Pittsburgh Glass Center Visit

Posted by Robin Abel on

If you ever have the opportunity to see glass objects being born, take it!  Jon Sirockman, one of the artisans with products at Penn Pantry, invited me to see him and other glass artists work at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.  It was a fascinating afternoon.

While I assumed this would be a small operation, it was quite a surprise to see the size of the Pittsburgh Glass Center.  I was welcomed and invited upstairs to watch the glass artists work.  There were at least 10 of the them working together to create amazing objects.

The artists began by gathering glass and heating it in a very hot furnace.  With safety glasses and closed toed shoes, they began the process of taking this very hot blob of stuff and molding it into a usable and beautiful object. The glass is held at one of of a hollow tube, called a blowpipe, and heated in a very hot furnace.  When they being the process, everything looks like a blob.  It was amazing to walk around and watch all these blobs turn into such a variety of objects.  Artists work through the creative process by using the furnace, shaping the glass on a steel table called a marver, using using a variety of tools to manipulate shapes, as well as blowing through the tube.

What I found interesting was that they were all working in pairs.  The artist has a plan of what they were working to create but there was a helper who listened and provided a great deal of support to the project.  They grabbed tools, provided advise, and were a big help to the process.  It was a beautiful dance to experience.

Not all projects worked correctly.  Some would spend a great deal of time shaping and manipulating only to have it break or not turn out correctly.  There was a collective disappointment when something went wrong, but then the pair would start over and work together to continue achieving the goal.

What these artist created was amazing.  From glasses to jewelry to light fixtures and display pieces, it was amazing to see all this beauty.  Stop over for a visit and see for yourself!  They also have classes so you can learn to create some great objects that you can be very proud of.

Thanks to Jon and all the artists for allowing me to watch you create.  Everyone was so nice, allowing me to take pictures, shooing me out of the way when I was too close to something dangerous, and generally being a super nice group of people.  Stop into Penn Pantry to see Jon's work and take a unique piece home for you.


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