Saturday, January 19, 2013

Roman Style Glass Blowing

    About mid way through my stint on Philly I saw a post from my friend Angus Powers on Facebook.  He has built a Roman Style wood fired furnace in his backyard.  My immediate response was something along the lines of "I want to play!"  It's like when the neighbor kid got the new Star Wars toy you've always seen in catalogues, but didn't have yourself.  In response to all the comments, he decided to host an open house, for all to come & participate.  I am so there.

    The open house was on Saturday, and I had work booked through Friday night around 10 pm.  I worked a 12 hour day in the hot shop, packed the truck, and headed North.  Alfred is about 6 or 8 hours from Philadelphia, I have actually never been there before.  I drove 'till about 3 am, and passed out on an exit ramp somewhere in upstate PA.  I woke at sunrise, had breakfast in some small town along the way, and rolled into Angus' driveway 5 minutes prior to the start of the open house.  Strange sensation pulling into the driveway, as I had never been there before, for a split second I wasn't really sure if I was in the right place!  That does happen to me once in a while, I just figure there is no embarrassment in making a mistake, so long as a shotgun doesn't appear....
    Angus has a fabulous backyard, the furnace overlooks the valley near Alfred, NY.  Just like his backyard, his life and family are fabulous as well.  Few folks have his kind of energy - it is infectious - I always appreciate the moments I get to spend around him.  This was no exception.  The little wood fired shop is amazing.  It is one of those things that all glassblowers want to experience, but few actually ever build.  Angus is a bit of a pioneer in this field -  this is not the first that he has built, he is getting pretty good at it. I am very much looking forward to owning the book (Hint, Hint).  The furnace is stoked by his friend & fellow pyro, Dan.  Everything needed to make glass is right there in the lean-to, except the annealer.  It is about 30 yards up the hill in the studio.  Which means after you are finished forming the glass, there is one last flash heat, the piece is held up for the spectator's approval, then, as the applause fades out in the distance, you jog up the hill through the autumn mist, hot finished glass on the end of the stick.  There wasn't a single casualty from the Olympic style marathon to the annealer.
    I had a blast.  There is a mini bench in front of the furnace, close to the ground, so the flames coming from the opening of the furnace do not remove facial hair.  It just so happens that I have a shorty blow pipe which turned out to be the perfect size - it got lots of use that day.  One by one, I would bring the molds out.  I would make a piece, do the triathlon up the Hill,  have a sip of cider, then go to the truck & walk another one down, and quietly place it behind the bench.  There were lots of folks there, we all took turns making stuff.  It was an experience like no other, as far as blowing goes.  Totally different than gas or electric fired equipment.  It really felt like I was getting to the roots of my craft. Here are some pics of the fun!
    The open house was timed with an event down at the school, where a massive iron pour was taking place.  We went down that way to watch, if you've never seen an iron pour, its a pretty wild thing to see.  Fire, sparks and molten metal.  Here are some pics.
    The day ended with an invitation to the local homebrew club Halloween party.  I am a little anxious about going to parties where I only now one or two folks, especially Halloween, when I don't have a costume.  Never fear when Angus is near.  He produced a costume from the garage for me (he just has these things laying around, you see).  Bacon!!!  The best ice breaker costume EVER!

Because Bacon makes everything better!   

1 comment:

  1. “It has been great to know that there is someone out there that knows about falling down and getting back up. We always stay humble and never give up, and for the help of Mr Benjamin lee of getting me Loan from his firm to expand my business, at a pivotal time. The support I received from his loan firm was quite honest and an interesting low rate in return, Mr Benjamin Lee is a loan officer working with a group of investors which are willing to fund any type of business or give loan for personal use as long as their repayment is guaranteed.
    You can contact theirs email on  Or Whatsapp Mr lee on   +1-989-394-3740