Monday, October 22, 2007

Fun Force

Lately work has been brutally busy. Our product tour launched last Thursday which initiates 2 more months of craziness. sigh However, the company I work for has this thing called "fun force" in which each department ("team") does something fun and team-building for half a day. And so, as a break from the busy and a celebration of our launch, Friday we headed to a small town in the area, had lunch and did a bit of glass blowing!!

Well, ok not really blowing the glass but we did help create our own paperweight! hehe After signing our life away via a waiver, we watched a short demonstration from the artists and then got busy. I swear when one of the artists started blowing the glass - it looked like a big clear bubblegum bubble; then he flicked the steel tube a few times and VOILA - A chili pepper! He showed us a piece of the glass he'd just blown which was so thin it looked like cellophane paper.

Now, I have seen the masters of glass blowing at work in Murano but for most of my coworkers this was new. I have to admit, for some reason I am FASCINATED with hot molten substances, be they glass, metals or lava. I don't know why - I think they are beautiful and I just want to reach out and touch that gold-red liquid. I won't, but I want

To start off we picked the colors we wanted in our paperweight by looking at jars of different colored glass pellets. Once we selected 2 or 3, we each took turns by the ovens (which burn at about 2100+ F). The artists would stick the steel tubes into like a tub of clear molten glass, then hand it to us. You would have to keep the tube rolling so the glass wouldn't misshape or drop to the floor. The clear glass was so pretty, it reminded me of thick golden honey. The base color you picked was in a bowl and you kind of dipped your glass in it. Like dipping an apple in caramel. dip and tap, dip and tap to cover the clear glass. I was not very good at this. My guy had to reshape my glass alot. hehe It is way harder than it looks!

Anyway, then he would take the tube and stick the glass back in the "glory hole." Yes that is really what they called it. and it never failed to elicit a giggle out of us whenever they said it. LOL (come on - you know that is funny! even if a little twisted) We are a very mature group as you can see. hehe Next we spread our 2nd color out on a cooling table, either in a random pattern or in very precise lines, whatever your preference. Once they took the glass back out of the glory hole we rolled it in our next color. After that, they would shape the glass into a ball - poor guy had to shape mine alot, I was really bad at this - my glass was all lopsided. then stuck it back into the clear molten glass for a kind of outer layer. We would then sit at this bench and roll the tube while they scored the glass, and finally hit the steel tube with a knife in order to release the ball.

I got to do an extra step because I had picked a "reducer" color. That means, if you heat it with a torch, the color recedes and the metal color underneath comes forward. OH YES, I got to use a torch! WOOHOOO - I picked a cobalt blue that when heated pulls out some silver. The torch was cool. This is my boss torching her reducer colors. lol

It was really a lot of fun. We heckled each other throughout the process and laughed all afternoon. They are a funny bunch. Here are our paperweights "baking" in the finishing oven. I guess they will file down the rough parts and do whatever they do to finish the glass then send them to us this week. I think mine is the one on the left, 2nd in the row. the mostly blue one. I hope it turns out pretty, I picked the cobalt blue reducer and a limey green. It's hard to tell when everything looks gold and red from the heat. I will post the final product when I get it. I know you will be waiting with baited breath. lol

If you get a chance to watch artists work with glass, do it. Especially if you are ever in Venice - take the time to visit Murano and see the masters at work. They have been working with glass forever and it is so interesting. It looks so deceptively easy and the way they can shape/manipulate the glass will amaze you! (and of course you will need to buy a piece) Also, if an opportunity ever comes up to participate in working with glass - try! It will give you a better appreciation of the artistry it takes to create in that medium and heck, it's just fun!

Have a good Monday! Back to the grindstone for me =)

More later...


rowena said...

The glory hole...just love it! (Sick and twisted mind that I am - muahahahahah!) What a great idea this fun force thing. Definitely sounds like a fab place that you work in!

Stelle in Italia said...

i agree--fun force sounds like a definite plus, and your workplace sounds pretty cool! i love the way the paperweights turned out in the bottom picture, but i can't wait to see the real final version! it sounds like you had a great time--AND you got to use the torch! :) i've seen some glass blowing in murano, but i would love to experience it first hand.


Giulia said...

Oh lordy, I misread the title and read "glass bowling" and immediately invisioned people throwing bowling balls towards glass bottles!

Glory hole, huh? LMAO

Eryn said...

i took glass blowing while i was in art school. i'm really glad i took it but man was it tough. i was never the best in my class but did manage to make a series of vases and bowls.

it gets hot in there.....i would have to wear sunscreen to class and always long sleeve shirts (UVA and UVB rays shoot out of the glory hole)

that's really cool that your workplace offers such cool events!

Cynthia Rae said...

I love to watch this sort of thing. Never been to the island of Murano, but one day I hope to get there. I do know an American girl who married a man from Venice. We was a 4th generation glass blower. Now she helps him make jelwery in a glass shop in Venice. Che vita!


KC said...

That really does look like a lot of fun! I taught for a couple years in an art dept. that had a glassblower and I loved watching him work, it was just fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you must work at a cool company! My department went bowling one year for a team building excercise, but glass blowing sounds a lot more fun. Is that you in the second picture with your back to the camera?


Texas Espresso said...

Rowena - you and me both my friend! You know it is fun - we work hard but we also laugh alot.

Jackie - it is cool. It was my first fun force and I really enjoyed it. the torch was AWESOME> hehe You should totally try to participate sometime :)

Giulia - glass bowling might have been fun too. Who doesn't like to break stuff now and

eryn - it IS tough isn't it? They make it look so easy. I can't imagine working with those ovens at all, let alone in the middle of a Texas summer. so they called it a glory hole too? hehe

cyn - girl you and I will go to Murano! You know I love Venice, so we can leave the men at home and go play. That is so cool about your friend - I would love to meet her. nice life!

kc - teaching art is so interesting. do you miss it?

andrea - it was really fun. surprised me! nope, not me - I wish I were that skinny.