By Erika, age 14
IMG_0029(1)When I was in Saint Petersburg, I went to a glass shop to make my own glass statue at the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio & Hot Shop. I decided to make a statue in the shape of a twisted teardrop. Before starting, it’s important to set up the work space. Fortunately for me, all the equipment was where it was supposed to be so I started by setting up the glass crystals to color my creation. I filled a metal, bulb-shaped dish with orange crystals and sprinkled some red glass in a line on the metal table. Both the bowl and table can resist the high temperatures of molten glass.

IMG_0037My instructor, Tom, got the first layer of glass onto a rod from the furnace, which is always on at over 2000° Fahrenheit to keep the glass a molten liquid. After taking it out of the furnace, the glass starts to cool on the rod. Since it’s still incredibly hot, it would have oozed off of the metal rod so I had to continuously turn it, so it wouldn’t drip. At this point, I pressed the glass bulb into the dish of orange crystals until it was covered on all sides with the small, colored pieces of glass. I then put the glass into the kiln to heat it up and turned it until the small crystals fused into the glass bulb. I then repeated this process with the red glass crystals.
After the red crystals had melted into the surface, Tom dipped the glass into the furnace to get another layer of glass over the colors. At this point, I sat down at a special workbench to shape the glass. I used a pair of giant tweezers to pull on the glass and create a tip and stretch out the fiery orange glass as Tom spun the metal rod to create swirly shape with the glass.
IMG_7742-e1520802140979After I finished shaping the glass, I hit the rod with the metal tweezers and the glass popped off the end. Tom caught it and put it into the cooling oven which was a mere 800° Fahrenheit. We needed to let it slowly cool down overnight so it wouldn’t crack. The next day, Tom sanded down the end to provide a smooth base before I picked it up.
My sister made a glass ball ornament using many of the same steps. The major difference was instead of using the giant tweezers, she blew into a long tube to force air into the middle of the glass bulb to make a bubble. Working at the hot shop was an incredible experience, and I hope I can do it again someday.