In high school, my brother took a pottery class and gave me the final masterpiece that he created. He called it "The Ketchup Bowl". It is a deep jagged-edged bowl with red, navy and teal blue streaks running down the sides. I treasure this eclectic bowl because he made it. "How fun it will be to create a similar piece of artwork that he can now love and cherish", I thought, visions of vases like the ones pictured here dancing in my head. By the time I called up RDG Designs and Glass Blowing Center on Castle Street to make my first appointment, I had downgraded my ambitions to making a colorful paperweight. How hard could that be, right? Apparently much more difficult than I imagined. My teacher, owner Jane Greer, suggested that I start with a clear glass ornament. Adding color to glass is a whole other skill that would be introduced in Lesson Two. The first thing I learned to do was light the torch. Even this proved difficult for me; I can't even start a simple cigarette lighter without burning my fingers! But under Jane's deft guidance, in no time at all I was melting glass rods, pressing them, rotating them, and twisting them into shapes. I started to learn the rich vocabulary of the trade: acronyms like "POOP" and descriptors like "the snake that ate the mouse" - something you don't want to happen to your glass. Guess what? It happened to mine.
Here's what I love about glass-blowing (which at the beginner level does not involve any actual blowing): it's fun, but it requires focused concentration. I was so intent on learning the techniques (they look deceptively simple when Jane demonstrates them but prove to be incredibly challenging when you try them), that everything else just melted away. It was a great form of relaxation. At the end of my first lesson, I had made a misshapen icicle Christmas tree ornament that made me immensely proud. By the second lesson, I had graduated to a green and blue pendant shaped like an amoeba. I can't wait to go back and practice some more. In fact, I loved it so much, that I immediately gifted my little brother (nothing like giving him the same gift he gave me!) and my friend Matt with lessons for their birthdays. Of course, I intend to tag along. It's a great gift idea that I highly recommend. And at $50 for two lessons, including materials, the price can’t be beat!