Glass Class – First Timers Creating Glass Art


My husband has always been great at finding activities for us. This time he found a local glass artist, Peter Patterson, that teaches his passion to others.


There are three ‘ovens’ in the making of glass. The first is just called the furnace, where the glass is melted in a crucible and gathered on the blowpipe or mandrel. The second is the glory-hole, which is used during the creation of the project. This photo is one of the final furnaces called the lehr or annealer.Β It is used to slowly cool the glass over a period of a few days, all of which depends on the size of the piece. This prevents the glass from cracking or shattering due to thermal stress. On top were some of the colored shards we used to color some of the projects.


Here were the 4 projects we were going to complete this evening. A swirled, molded paperweight, an ornament, a flower and lastly, a choice of ring holder / pen holder / card holder or another paperweight.


Tools of the trade.


Here is the seat of knowledge! I noticed right away that it was set-up for righties… No Biggie. It’s great us lefties generally are ambidextrous.

One of the glory-holes is in the background.


Here my hubby is creating a score line where the paperweight will be broken off the mandrel. He spins the mandrel and applies mild pressure with a tweezers type tool. Later, he will hold it over a catch bin and tap the mandrel to disconnect it.


After glass is gathered onto the mandrel, it must be pulled towards the end of the mandrel by rolling the glass on a steel table. This process is called marvering, which forms a cool skin on the exterior of the molten glass blob. This aids blown projects to not ‘pop’ it also blends colors when doing our non-bowing type projects.


After marvering his glass blob, the blob needed to be reheated to a more liquid state to be able to pour it into our card holder base. It was not easy to keep rotating the rod as the glass melted, not too fast to fling it off the rod and not too slow as to let it drip…


Here Hubby pours the molten glass, while twisting the mandrel to create the spin of the colors in the base. It was poured onto a rough base to create texture on the bottom.


The glass was pinched off and reheated with a torch so the hole for the wire clip could be added after it cooled.


Some things like making a glass loop was a bit too much for our first day. Here Mr. Patterson adds a finishing touch.



Here is the start of our flower. Colors had already been added (this was a yellow/green mix – doesn’t look like it at all when hot) and the texture of the petals crimped. Here, Hubby clips and elongates his petals.


To finish the flower, Mr. Patterson held the neck of the flower and pulled, while us students spun the mandrel which created the stem.

Here are our finished projects! I’m going to need more practice… My husband was a natural! Go figure… He’s a double art major and specialized in sculpture and molding metals.


Here are the rest. We had a bunch of fun at this class and intend on going to more. Mr. Patterson also has a gallery / museum and sells his art at great, affordable prices.


32 thoughts on “Glass Class – First Timers Creating Glass Art

    • Wow, that’s cool that you still have art from when you were a little pup πŸ˜‰
      It was fun to play with million degree hot glass with no gloves or safety glasses…
      It makes me think of camping, when folks are roasting marshmallows and the kid EXACTLY opposite of you marshmallow goes ablaze… The kid waves the flaming hot marshmallow stick in an attempt to put it out, yet it only flies off the stick to hit you square in the chest. Good times!!


  1. Woo-hoo! This is great! What a wonderful photo essay. Yay for Hubby! My dad, along with Dominic Labino and Harvey Littleton, brought Offhand Blown Glass (what your Hubby is doing here) which is now called Hot Glass, to this country. They held the first American Glass conference at the Toledo Museum of Art in I think 1963 (I could get my lazy butt up out of the chair and go look at the poster on the wall, but I’m tired). When I was growing up my dad taught glass at Toledo University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Rhode Island School of Design, where we had the glass shop in a pole building on our farm. Dale Chihuly was his teaching assistant, and that’s who taught me to blow glass! I just registered for a flameworking course at Penland School of Crafts. OK now I have to go back and read/look at your post again, you most fascinating of women!


        • Have you seen the Glass Flowers collection at Harvard? I spent hours and hours and hours and… a young artist. I’ll try to find you a link. That’s what I want to do when I go to heaven, or even sooner if they let me…make glass flowers like that.

          Your valentines will be really swell! Can’t wait to see!

          Say, do you remember off the top of your head the flower that pollinates via a bee that crawls under the anther, gets pollen on its back, crawls to the bottom (it’s a tube flower) where it drinks a potent narcotic nectar that knocks it out long enough for the plant to do a quick sex change so when the bee stumbles out it brushes pollen off on the (now) pistil? I’m writing a paper and I want to use that marvelous demonstration that win-win wins! So are you familiar with that dyad?


          • I have not been to the glass flowers collection at Harvard, however sounds like a great find! I checked out the website, oh so beautiful =-)
            About the wild flower dyad… I’ve not heard of the whole thing happening all in one flower. Here’s what I do know:
            Many flowers do have both sexes – an anther and pistil in the flower, at exactly the same time, no switcheros.
            It’s always better to pollinate with another, than to pollinate yourself.. heehee πŸ˜‰
            Flowers do make all kinds of things to attract the correct pollinator from wasps, bees, flies and other insects.
            Flowers make pheromones, proteins, carbs, sweets, stanky-rotting-smells… they would make beautiful music if it would attract pollinators.
            There are many orchids (and others) that do trap gnats & flies.

            There are some pretty strange thangs in nature, just because I’ve not heard doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            I’ll be sure to post our valentine’s efforts ❀


    • That is so cool! What an awesome job to have, teaching glass, or really any art for that matter.
      And for your dad to blaze the way for future glass conferences, very cool.
      I hope to get back to do it again soon. I’ll let you know how I do!
      Keep me posted on your flameworking class, I’d be very interested in your impression of the class.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is so cool! You make me want to look around my area for such an opportunity. Nice job on your projects, I bet they’re that much better to have around because you made them.

    Years ago I went on my first – and so far only – cruise in the Mediterranean. We got to visit and watch an glass blower in Italy, in Murano which is famous for glass blowing. It was pretty incredible. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!


  3. Pingback: Sun-Catchers | Midwestern Plants

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