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03 November 2011 @ 11:43 pm
Art Glass Center of San Jose  
Jeannie and I went off to play with glass again tonight, but instead of going to the Bay Area Glass Institute - our usual haunt - we headed off to the Art Glass Center of San Jose. They're a very different organization. Instead of doing glass-blowing, they focus on torchwork and glass fusing. (BAGI offers these classes, too, but Jeannie and I haven't managed to coordinate and get a Groupon for them). Over the course of four hours we did the following lessons:
- Torchworking: Make a stir-stick with a twisted top
- Stained glass: Solder pre-cut glass pieces together to create a suncatcher
- Glass Fusion: Design a 6 inch tile or dish

Torchworking was pretty fun, but scary because you work over an open flame. (I had nightmares about turning the gas too high and burning my eyebrows off.) The project wasn't too interesting - I have no idea what I'm going to do with a swizzle stick; I've never needed one before - and it's just clear glass. There was an option to leave your stick and have the twisted top transformed into a pendant, but frankly mine wasn't pretty enough to wear. I've read that some other classes get to make flowers during the torchworking lesson; I think that would have been much more fun.

Stained glass wasn't very exciting either. There was a limited selection of colors to choose from - seven, if I remember correctly - and every piece was diamond-shaped. This can look pretty cool in a large mosaic, but when you can only use three or four pieces the results are pretty limited: cube, chevron, diamond and pointy almost-flower-like shape. I thought my cube turned out OK in terms of color and construction, but when I got home I realized the glass was quite opaque, so if I hung it in a window not much light came through. It was fun to learn about the soldering techniques, though!

The last mini-class was the most fun. The instructor spent a good long time teaching us how to cut glass to create designs on a 6" dish, then set us free to do whatever. I never quite mastered the art of cutting glass (much to my friend's amusement) but I wanted to do a Jackson Pollock-esque design so that was quite fine with me! Since it was the last class of the night, it felt very rushed, and that was too bad, because this was the only time the night where I felt truly creative.

I did learn a lot, and I'm looking forward to doing more with all three techniques. Although I had fun here, I'm not sure if I want to continue taking classes here. The class sizes are rather large, so it's hard to get individual instruction from the teachers, and at times (especially towards the end) I felt rushed to finish my project.

But hey, at least I'm being somewhat artistic.