Well, from May 18th through May 22nd, I took a class at Flametree Glass with Loren Stump. It was intense and I had some challenges, but I’m so glad I took this class. It was a very humbling experience actually. I was exposed to all sorts of things that I wasn’t good at and didn’t get on the first try. But after a couple days rest (we went from 10:00 AM to 1:00 AM every day for five days) it seemed my whole approach to life in general was reinvigorated. I wouldn’t say it was life altering, but I think it was pivotal – like my trip to Scotland in 1999.
Anyway, this first picture is of the eye murrini that we made. I was quite pleased with how it came out. Then we did a simple nose – which was not simple for me. I don’t even have a picture of how that came out because mine just looked like some kind of deranged squiggly line – nothing nose-like about it at all. The shaded nose looks better, but suffers from the lack of well mixed flesh colors. Still, it looked enough like a nose for the face – and it got so small anyway that the shading didn’t matter too too much anyway.
All these murrini (and that’s the way I decided to spell it – I have no idea if that is the correct spelling or not. I’ve tried looking it up online and everybody spells it differently. Maybe Italian is in a different place than English and there’s not actually a correct way to spell it. I don’t know.) were quite large hunks of glass before they were pulled, and that made me very nervous. I think in my own practicing I will start pretty small (already have) and work up to a bigger size. Large hunks of hot glass on the end of a punty are dangerous! They fall, and roll on the floor, and get covered in dog hair (so I’ve heard), and you just have to pick them up and put them back in the flame – but NOT with your fingers!
I did actually have one of my pieces roll under the table – actually, it fell in my lap (I was wearing a leather apron) and I stood up, and it rolled under the table. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I yelled. My neighbor reached under the table and got it back for me. So the whole murrini making process is a little frightening to me, and that’s why I started at home small. I’m trying to make a signature cane, but I have to work up to it because the letters R and S are particularly difficult. I will practice and get better at this technique.
After the murrini phase of the class, we had the sculptural phase. I didn’t do so well at making the Venetian glass leg. I don’t have any pictures of it either. I do have some of my practice legs in the box of goodies I took away from the class – but I think I accidentally threw my best effort away. I need to make a glass order – maybe I’ll order some more black so I can try this out a gazillion times. Loren made it look so easy! Melt, twist, melt, pull, wave the glass around a bit, and it’s a leg! I think I finally understand what I’m supposed to do, but doing it is another matter.
The little sculpted mouse went much better – it was a bead! It felt really nice to make a bead after all the other non-bead stuff we had been doing. I thought my mouse came out pretty well – until I saw it come out of the kiln. Eh – it’s not too bad, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Still, I think it was my favorite thing that we did. As it turns out, I like making beads. It may not be “real flame-working” as was suggested by someone who will remain nameless, and it may be so easy anyone can do it, but gosh darn it, as one of the other students said, as long as you’re making stuff what does it matter what you make? One day I will try furnace work, and one day I will try torch-work glass blowing – making bottles, that sort of thing – but for right now, beads are what I do.
And another thing that I will probably NEVER do again is make a paperweight. Those suckers are HARD! I’m still waiting for my paperweight to be shipped to me, and will post more on that when it comes. Right now, let me just say that my appreciation for paperweights is a gazillion-fold increased. Think about it, how many glass paperweights have you seen recently? And I think there’s more than one way to make a paperweight, but the way we did it, with a torch, is definitely difficult.
There was a lot more to the class – we did go for fifteen hours a day after all – and the studio was constantly abuzz – what with Loren Stump there – but suffice it to say I’m glad I took the class. I may have not been in the best frame of mind when it started, but it was exactly what I needed. It was one of those life experiences that it’s just good that you had. Hopefully, if I ever take another Loren Stump class – and I might – I’ll be better prepared. One other thing – Flametree Glass really, really, ROCKS. I’m so glad that I took the class here! I think it’s the best environment, and Lance and Maureen are such good hosts. Really, I can’t say enough what a great studio it is.