Sunday, July 25, 2010

Christmas in July

Cycling S and I were given a voucher to an Off the Street class at Canberra Glassworks for Christmas last year by J&M. Cycling S topped up my voucher so we could do the paperweights together and today was the day, after an early start for brunch at Cycling S's new home.

On the car across to the Glassworks I commented that it felt like Christmas Day since I was feeling stuffed and sleepy. It was pointed out to me that it kind of was Christmas Day as I was about to use my Christmas present. But it wasn't until I got home that I realised today is July 25th!

Here's me hyperventilating into my plastic bag while waiting for my class to begin:
"Wanna be starting something..."
Seriously though, here I am begging to do the now retired bird paperweight and explaining I'd been looking forward to making one for 6 months:
(Which they let me do. Probably just to shut me up...)
"If you don't shut up already we'll stuff you in the glory hole "

First I'm introduced to the sticky thing (aka blowpipe) "Hello sticky thing. Niiiice sticky thing..."
There's a big container of molten glass in the corner, heated by a furnace that's constantly kept at 1100 degrees. If I could have got close enough to see it properly (I was scared my plastic glasses would melt) I suspect it would have looked like a big old glass fondue.

My instructor stuck a stick in and came out with a blob of orange glass on the end of it.They cooled down the stem of the Sticky Thing blowpipe
then we carefully applied glass colouring to each side.Alas there was no black so I had to make a split second decision and go with a bird with a white chest and a multi coloured back...

Then I was introduced properly to The Glory Hole which is 2000 degrees and remelts the glass so it can continue to be worked.
We added more *shudder* colour before heating it again to melt the colour granules(Wayhey! Note that I'm flying solo!)

It all gets a little hazy here. I think they added another layer of glass from the fondue pot in the corner and we they shaped it on The Benchy Thing (Marver?)before a final reheat in the glory hole.
Then I had a go at the Bench.. Maver
before I was lead to the torture rack and said my final goodbyes.
Which, it turned out were a little premature as it was just the place to do the detail work.(I got simultaneous flashbacks of my own toffee making efforts and the chaps in the front window of Suga in Melbourne at this point)

I convinced a tail to show itself:
then a beak
eyes are kinda useful. One...Two!Yep, looks like a bird.Now we have to let it fly free. Or at least remove it from the blowpipe...

The giant scissors come out
then I get to tappity tap the blowpipe with my huge tweezers:and my bird is caught with a set of big, what look like hessian padded, tongsand plopped onto a lozenge of glass that seems to magically appeared, just when I need it:(J captured the elf that made it happen as he sneaked away...)

My bird was straightened up (no bent birds round here!), I said "Hello!"
before he was carried into a large cupboardy thing which is "only" 500 degrees. Where he'll recover from the stress of his birth, be gradually brought back to room temperature over the next couple of days, at which stage I'll be allowed to bring him home. Gawd, I feel like I've just gone through the birth process but without the 9 months of feeling sick, the pain, the mess or the expense!

Then it was Cycling S's turn: (All photos thanks to J, except the first two, which are courtesy of Cycling S)

7 comments:

m1k1 said...

brill.i.ant.
can't wait to meet your little bird.

Mini Dork said...

Wow, Christmas indeed. That class looks like so much fun. What a tweet, I mean treat. :P

Sarah said...

Wow what a process! It looks really fun to do-though scarily hot. I look forward to seeing your little bird.

Di said...

Wow - I wanna do it. Can't wait to see the little birdie

Ceiridwen said...

wow that is so cool!

Kerry said...

Ah, a bit of a nostalgia trip there! I recall standing at a glory hole for ages, turb=ning, turning.... Did the glass make a squeaking noise when being tweaked or cut? (I found that to have the 'fingernails on blackboard' effect for me)

The Shopping Sherpa said...

No squeaking. Or not that I noticed, anyway...