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As a FresYes writer, I feel it’s my duty to alert you whenever I hear of something cool. Recently, a friend of mine told me she was taking a blown glass class with her mom. It sounded really neat, so I asked if I could interview her about the experience. She was kind enough to tell me all about it, and now I want to go take a class, too!
Read on to find out more about this cool and uncommon art, and about how you, too, can join in on the fun, my friend.
FresYes: How did you find out about the class, and how did you sign up? What’s the cost like?
Amanda (first-time blown-glass student): My mom heard about it through a friend, and signed up to receive emails of future classes. The class was taught by Bob Kliss, co-owner and operator of Kliszewski Glass. It was $55, but for this price you can book a private class.
Scheduling depends on how busy Kliss is with outside orders and the time, but the studio offers private, small group, and family classes, and Bob works one-on-one with each person to help them create a special project that they’ll get to take home when complete. Kids as young as five can participate in a class. Classes are taught in the Kliszewski Studio located at 2746 E. Lorena in downtown Fresno.
FresYes: So, walk us through this. What did you actually get to do in the class? How does blowing glass actually work?
Amanda: Bob walked us through every step. First, he introduced each tool we would be using and explained how to handle the rod while you are forming or blowing the glass. You want to keep it constantly moving. In this particular class, we made an egg. No actual glass blowing was involved with this project.
However, I was told to be on the lookout for a “Mini Pumpkin” class coming soon that will involve glass blowing. We started by picking the colors that we wanted in our egg. There were nine colors to choose from, not including white and gold glitter. Beautiful reds, rubies, blues, emeralds, purple, and mixtures. Bob then took a rod and loaded it up with hot melted glass for us. While we kept the rod turning, we dipped one side in color.
I started with white for my project. I dipped each side in white particles, then placed it into a hot kiln just to melt everything together. I then brought it back over to the color table where I was able to add red and gold glitter, then back in the kiln it went. After melding the colors, my piece needed to be flattened like a “tongue,” an important step that I would soon understand.
At this point, he put my project back in the kiln to get it flexible and hot. When he brought it back to me I was sitting on a seat holding tweezers. I grabbed the tip of the glass with the tweezers as he turned the rod. This caused the glass to spiral. We had just made the inside of what would be my egg.
He then took it to the kiln that was full of hot glass and added more clear glass around it, then brought it back to me where I was sitting with a wooden spoon that was soaked in water and had a shaped carved in it like a circle to help shape the egg.
Once we shaped it a bit, he put it back in the heat to warm it back up and I switched to a different wooden spoon that had the egg shape. He then brought it back to me and we finished shaping it. In order to shape an egg, you have to constantly turn the rod while moving the spoon to get the glass to mold.
After my part of the work was done, Bob’s assistant took the rod (with my egg still on the end), detached it, and melted down the base with a blow torch. My egg then went into a kiln to slowly be brought up to the same temperature inside and out. The egg needed to stay in the kiln overnight as everything begins to cool down a little at a time so the glass hardens properly and won’t crack. I was able to pick up the finished egg two days later.
FresYes: Would you recommend this class to others?
Amanda: Most definitely! I can’t wait to go back. Anyone can do this. Everything is explained very well, and you really get to design your own project. The colors change as they cool, so there is an element of fun surprise to picking up your completed project, too. Bob answers any questions you have and manages to makes you feel comfortable while handling molten hot glass!
So, FresYes readers? What do you think? Is a custom-made glass art piece in your future? Sure seems like a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon to me!
The Kliszewski Glass Studio will be hosting a second afternoon of classes on the glass eggs, just in time for Easter, Saturday, March 25. To sign up, contact the studio by phone at 559-497-6610. And make sure to Like their Facebook page to stay up-to-date with information on future classes.