Glass beads! Frames! Sculptures! Cups! Ornaments! Your crafty little hands can create a glass masterpiece of your own if you pop on over to the Corning Museum of Glass in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
Though I admit to having been terrified of the roaring fire and molten glass before starting, the guidance of my glassmaking mentor made it possible for me to craft a gorgeous glass flower in just a few minutes. The flower is now displayed proudly on our home’s mantelpiece.
Come with me to see the dramatic process in action!
My glassmaking mentor calmed my nerves as she stuck a blob of glass into the furnace. I picked my flower colors, and the mentor dipped the glass base into shards of each hue I selected. We rolled the resulting chunk on its metal stick holder until it resembled a fiery hotdog.
Next, my glass mentor had me squish the front of the hotdog with a tool resembling a metal spatula. The flower’s front became flat, and the swirls of color started to be visible. I paused my glassmaking briefly to threaten my husband with the hot metal spatula.
We then reached the penultimate step: Yanking out the petals of the flower with a pinchy claw tool. Pull and twist! Our mentor rotated the flower so we could pull the petals all the way around.
We had been asked if we wanted a straight or curly stem, and both Colin and I opted for curly. To achieve this, our mentor had us pull and stretch the goopy glass to lengthen the stem, then twisted the metal holder to create the pig’s-tail-like curl.
And just like that, our flower was done! The process only took about ten minutes, but what a cool ten minutes it was. Our flowers were placed in a special holder to cool for the next few days, and would subsequently be shipped to our home back in Boston.
Lest you fear that our toddler son, Devi, was left out of this fun, never fear! Clad in protective glasses, Devi was chaperoned by his grandparents at the kids’ section of the glassmaking workshop, where he placed stickers onto a cup that then went through a sandblasting process to yield an awesomely frosted glass.
The stickers protected the glass from the sand, so their dinosaur shapes now stand out in shiny relief — reminding us of the delicious restaurant, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, not so far away in upstate NY.
My father-in-law, meanwhile, put together a stunning glass frame by placing colored shards onto a rectangle, which was fused together with high heat after we left. That frame is now on Estes’s sit-stand desk in Ohio, displaying a photo of him with his grandson!
I was stunned at how beautifully our flowers turned out. Do indulge me now in showing off a few glamour shots of Colin’s and my masterpieces. Every time I look at them now in our dining room, I feel happy!
So what do you think? Is glassmaking an activity you think you might enjoy? Have you tried it already? Do share! Want more things to do in the Finger Lakes, NY articles? Click that round-up, or go directly to posts on breathtaking Watkins Glen State Park, delicious Finger Lakes food, and my favorite museum ever.
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We were guests of the Corning Museum of Glass, but all opinions and hot spatula threats are my own.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!