A Day at the Museum

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We use glass every day. It’s so ubiquitous that most of the time it fades into the background.  We  literally look right through it and don’t even see it.  That’s good when you are driving a car or staring through your bifocals.  But,  if you have ever walked through a plate glass window, you will quickly remember that glass is present.  (Unless you’re Criss Angel.)

As I said in last week’s post, glass is basically melted sand. What I did not know when I wrote last week’s post was that the invention of the blow pipe made it easier to make glass and cheaper too.  Now, even though I barely passed high school chemistry, I know from my own glass experience that mixing air with the fuel makes it burn hotter and cleaner and makes for more efficient glass melting.  So the blow pipe was a big deal. And though we can trace the first glass back to 3500 BCE, transparent glass did not appear until Venetian glass maker Angelo Barovier created it in the 15th Century.  Even then, having clear glass windows was an expensive proposition and there were many more advancements in glass technology and manufacturing before we got to the glass we know today.  But if you think you know a lot about, glass you probably don’t know the half of it.  That’s why you should take a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass.

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Patty looking through a magnifying lens

The stated mission of the Corning Glass Museum is to “tell the world about glass.”  Any comprehensive exploration of glass  straddles the line between art and science. There’s probably no other artistic medium (aside from pottery) that does this so obviously and the scientific developments in glass have been dramatic. What I like most about the museum is that it pays attention to both sides of this fascinating substance.  

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We started the day with a glass blowing demonstration.

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Glass frit and colorants

From there we went to the modern Art Glass

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Corning GM(GlassFiber)3

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Then worked our way through the ancient glass and the history of glass exhibits.

Corning GM44

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From there, we hopped over to the scientific glass portion where I learned about lenses, telescopes, safety glass and glass with thermal properties.

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Patty and I staring into a thermal camera

The museum building itself is beautifully designed and a very relaxing space.

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We only scratched the surface on our visit; there are all kinds of activities and classes including Master Classes for lamp workers and glass blowers taught by top artists from around the world.    Click here  to go to Corning’s YouTube site which contains dozens of videos on every aspect of glass you can imagine.  Click here to go to my Flickr page and see the other pictures I took at the Museum

 

 

 

It’s Not Done Until I Ruin It

The Corning Museum of Glass has a YouTube channel  with a huge collection of videos.  I was watching a video of Stephanie Sersich  demonstrating how to make a flower pendant when she commented,  “It’s not done until I ruin it” – the perfect answer (in my mind) to the age-old artistic conundrum of how to tell when the creative act is finished.

Sersich drops many gems of wisdom during her demonstrations.  For example, she notes that a good lamp worker is one who knows how to correct mistakes.   This is second nature to an accomplished lamp worker-so much so that  during  a demo,  he might not think to point when he makes a mistake  and how he fixes it.  Sersich, on the other hand, talks about everything that she is doing during the demonstration including when she has made a mistake and how she will correct it.  She also talks about characteristics of different types and colors of glass, tools, and why she makes  certain artistic and technical choices-all while she is at the torch making a bead.   Here’s a link to the video.

 

 

 

Corning’s YouTube channel  also includes lamp working demonstration videos by artists like Kristina Logan, Heather Trimlett, Paul Stankard and Loren Stump.    If lamp working’s not your thing, there are   videos on glass blowing and cold-working techniques.

The Corning Museum of  Glass has generously make these videos  free to the public.  This is a great resource so check it out.