It’s sometimes hard to come up with fun things to do when you’re trying to save money for travel. I often will get on Groupon to see if there is anything fun we can do for a date night or any restaurants I am interested in trying. One day I found a glass blowing class for two at Ignite Glass Studios. We scheduled the appointment for an evening after work as availability was somewhat limited. Ignite hosts private events and classes which close the studio to the public. I understood that in addition to their events and classes, there were other Groupon purchasers booking classes as well.
Ignite Glass is located in the west loop of Chicago. It’s an easy 7 minute walk from the Ashland green line stop. Once we arrived we signed a waiver and were offered our choice of creating either a bowl or a paperweight. We opted to make the bowl as we figured we would get more use out of it. It was decided that I would go first. I opted to create a green bowl with white speckles on it as a nod to Michigan State, my alma mater.
It was intriguing to see how a hand blow glass item is made. It all starts out with pure liquid glass. Our instructor went to the vat of liquid glass and pulled a small amount onto the pipe that we would be working with. The instructor then blew a small bubble in the glass. From that small bubble I could manipulate the glass into any number of things. When the glass would cool down and become too stiff to work with, I was able to heat my glass up again so I could continue my project. Towards the end of the glass blowing process I had a pretty large green and white globe. The last step, which I thought was the coolest part of the whole process, was sucking air in. This is the opposite of blowing out like I had been doing earlier. This action of sucking pulled the air from a globe collapsing half of the globe in, which formed the bowl.
Andy was up next and created a white bowl with green speckles, the inverse of mine. His bowl was slightly shallower than mine, but the perfect shape for guacamole and mine for chips. The bowls had to sit in a warm oven like device overnight or the difference in temperature between the air and the glass would crack the bowl. We picked up our bowls about a week later and they looked great!
The class was extremely interactive and taught us that the glass has to continually move or it will droop to one side. We also learned how to mold the glass using our breath as well as how to use the glass blowing tools. It was a really interesting artistic medium to me as the glass is so easily re-molded. If you made a mistake you can heat it up and re-mold it again.
The space looks like it would make for some really cool events. I actually looked at Ignite Glass Studios event space when we were looking for wedding venues. I love that after the ceremony, when the bride and groom are off taking photos, they demonstrate glass blowing to the wedding guests and gift the piece to the bride and groom.
We did our glass blowing class at Ignite Glass Studios after to our visit to Chihuly Garden & Glass in Seattle. Knowing the work that it took to create our slightly imperfect bowls, we couldn’t even wrap our heads around the amount of skill it would take to create pieces at that level.
I am very happy that we took this class. It was fun, informative and we have beautiful bowls that we can enjoy for years to come. If you are in the market for hand blown pieces but aren’t quite interested in the classes, they also allow you to commission a piece from one of the skilled glassblowers.