The old proverb goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Well, I’ve taken several cooking classes, so a hot oven isn’t necessarily a deterrent. In fact, I’ve also taken pottery classes and even tried my hand at blacksmithing this summer. (Check out the September 2016 issue of Mirror.)
So, when a winter cold front ﬁnally hit South Florida, I knew it was time to take that glassblowing class at Hollywood Hot Glass. A 2300 degree oven would certainly counter the damp wind gusts.
Situated in the heart of Arts Park on Young Circle and surrounded by other artisans and small craft studios, Hollywood Hot Glass offers live demonstrations ﬁve days a week, as well as the opportunity to try a hands-on experience with the assistance of one of the resident artists. The projects range from colorful round paperweights to bowls, tumblers and vases.
I was met by glass artist Brenna Baker, the studio’s proprietor, who showed me around the studio, adorned with stunning examples of her work.
Baker fist became enamored with glass while still in high school. Her mother moved to Corning, New York, which also happens to be the glass capital of the U.S.
“I just fell in love with it,” Baker told me, “from the minute I ﬁrst worked with it.”
In addition to business studies in college, she spent a year working in Murano, Italy under the tutelage of Pino Signoretto, one of the world’s ﬁnest glass sculptor. She then traveled the world on Celebrity Solstice class ships with the Hot Glass Show of the Corning Museum of Glass, before becoming the youngest Master Gaffer and only the second female gaffer ever employed by Steuben Glass. Baker also gained expertise in teaching at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass.
Three years ago, she opened Hollywood Hot Glass, where she produces custom commissions and introduces hundreds of people each week to her art through demonstrations and private events.
I selected a bowl for my project. The contemporary, free-ﬂowing form in clear, white, black and blue glass would look fabulous on my coffee table at home.
I should mention now that Baker’s incredibly patient. Baker and her team handle the most difﬁcult steps—dipping the metal pipe into a ceramic furnace and pulling out the glowing red, molten glob of glass, ready to be plied into art.
Within a few minutes, we covered the glass into frit, tiny glass crystals infused with elements to lend the glass its color. The frit got rolled into the glass and then I swirled it into a pattern with a pair of giant tongs.
Then, we set out to form the round bulb of the bowl. Baker started the bubble of air inside and then it was my turn. I was surprised how little air it actually took. She instructed me how to rotate the tube to create a symmetrical form. We used other tools to create a score to form the bowl, ﬂatten the bottom and then widen the rim. One more heating and I spun the tube to create the ﬂoppy shape.
The entire process only took about 20 minutes, “instant gratiﬁ cation,” Baker bragged, but I would have to pick up the ﬁnished piece another day because the glass actually takes 12 hours to thoroughly cool and harden properly.
Of course, Baker made it all seem too easy. She and her team have put in years of trial and error. to master the craft. But I have to say, I was kinda hooked, too, after picking up my masterpiece.
I wonder what I should make next time. A wave vase, set of tumblers or maybe an art installation for the living room wall? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
HOLLYWOOD HOT GLASS
Arts Park at Young Circle 1 Young Circle
Hollywood, FL 33020
CLASS / WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
Live Demonstrations and Walk-in Workshops
October – May
(Check website for summer schedule)
Monday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Wednesday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Thursday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday 2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Private classes and teambuilding workshops also available. Walk-in workshops start at $40.