Blown away by Glass Gathering


Alyssa Getz isn’t afraid to play with fire. She and several glass artists gathered in the AA wing to show fiery displays at the third annual Glass Gathering on Saturday.
“I’ve always sort of been a pyromaniac,” said Getz. “I love the intensity of working with the material because it’s so fast paced and it really keeps your mind in the game. It’s a lot about teamwork which a really enjoy.”

With sweat running off their foreheads, the featured artists sculpted designs to show off their passion for glass blowing. It is a lengthy process of glass liquefying when hot and solidifying when cool.

When asked to describe flameworking, Christian Lepiez, a third-year year glass student said, “It’s glass working to a smaller scale. It’s more intricate and detailed work.”

Silvia Taylor, a Sheridan glass alumna, discovered the art of glass blowing while she was travelling in Italy.

“It seemed like the perfect medium to combine hands-on craft-like skills along with artistic aspects,” she said. “Glass has many interesting physical qualities and the mystery of that kind of drew me in as well.”

There are typically five different types of glass formation: flameworking, hot sculpting and blowing, glass engraving, sand casting and kiln casting. Saturday’s up close and personal event included several demos in flameworking, hot sculpting and kiln casting. With furnaces burning at over 1, 000 degrees Fahrenheit, the glass blowers are in constant motion to sculpt their ideal shapes.


“I’m mostly a hot sculpting worker,” said Getz. “The reason why I started flameworking is because I’ve been blowing glass for 10 years. It’s very hard on my body and very expensive.”

Equipment needed for glass blowing includes torches, marver tables, kilns, tools made of graphite and glass tubing.

“I pay a lot of money to do this, and flameworking is just more accessible. All this stuff is less costly and it’s easier on your body,” said Getz.

The opportunities that open up for glass students range from out-of-school commissions to being introduced to professionals in the industry. It is encouraged to do research, talk to other artists about their set up and the potential in their product, and try to get in touch with those people.

“There are custom pieces that people want me to make for their home or for a show,” said Lepiez. “I’ve had dentist offices and doctor offices ask for custom pieces.”

A certain kind of passion comes along with the craft of glass working. However, one must develop patience, precision, the right education and ways to promote yourself, which plays a big role.

“I need focus, getting in that Zen and mindset of ‘You’re not really thinking of anything other than the art and what you’re doing,’ ” said Lepiez.

If you have good manual artistry skills, are creative, and enjoy art and sculpture then you might like to explore the art of glass making, like Getz. After her graduation from Sheridan, the 27-year-old has engaged herself in glass blowing demos and seeks to improve and create new pieces. The payoff of glass blowing is producing beautiful sculptures that can be recognized and sold.

“Don’t do it unless you can’t not do it,” said Taylor. “Don’t do it unless it’s something that demands you to be there because it is not easy to make a living out of this. If it’s not something that you’re really passionate about then you need to find that passion and put energy into it.”