Friday, November 11, 2011

I hope you don't mind if I call you a gaffer~~

At first I thought I wanted to write a blog post. But apparently what I need to do is to listen to "Mr. Dobalina" repeatedly and dance around in my chair. Even when I time my hunting and pecking to the beats, the going is slow (but jaunty!) and the chair wheels work just a little too well. It really would be sad if I gave myself a concussion because I couldn't quite be bothered to *stand* and dance. Especially when I managed to avoid one when I did the downhill faceplant a couple weeks ago. Tempting fate. One of the YouTube suggestions is Snow, Informer. Hahaha! Ahh, cassingles. Okay, one more play and then I'm done.

So, with that less than illustrious lead-in, it's time for a few words about Barbara Yerace, local glass blower extraordinaire. Her educators include the Corning Museum of Glass and Pilchuck Glass School, among others; her work graces the DIA giftshop (schwanky!), the Ann Arbor Art Center and WSG Gallery. I especially like her jubilee vases. And it's a good thing that she has some online visibility, because the photos I tried to take at her studio were less than stellar... The thing is, I was gawking, somewhere between hyper about being there and hypnotized by the molten glass. Naturally, she was moving quickly and I'm just not much of a photographer. Here's a typical shot:
kind of makes you think of Cocteau Twins, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, she's a total pro, has been doing this for years; she inhabits her studio as you'd expect. Fluid focused movements. She shares the basic details of her art, so as not to overwhelm the complete novice; and asks about life doings. I have trouble stringing a narrative along, because really, I'd be happy to watch this for hours. I think my need to soak it in visually is impairing my ability to absorb any other information.

I mean yes, you have the furnace, with molten glass, then you have a second, smaller heat source that you use to keep your emerging shape flexible enough to work with; then comes hours in the annealer, ever so slowing bringing the glass to room temperature. Yes, I got that much. By the by, the auxiliary furnace is christened the glory hole. Not by Barbara, mind you, but by glass blowers in general. And apparently it's also a nautical and a mining term. One may also watch "Glory Hole Tips" from glassblowers on YouTube. It pretty much calls all 12 year old brains to rise up, leaving most anyone exclaiming, "What?? It is NOT called that" and snickering periodically.

I saw her second glory hole before I knowingly saw her first, since she gave me a walk-around tour of the studio before she settled into glassblowing (she has a teaching space on the second floor!); she gestured to one side, "Oh, that's my other glory hole."

"What. I-- What's it called??"

Naturally, she has had this exchange hundreds of times. Yes, really. "Seriously??"  Yes, I *know* right? That is *truly* what it's called. Once upon a time a reporter wrote up a visit to her studio and simply gave it another name. Sidestepping: accomplished.

Which was really my first intro to it. And though I didn't know what it was from the driveway, it was the wonderful orange glow of the glory hole that drew me down to the studio. Something almost magical to see, while walking through the rain, with all the deep green vegetation all around. That was photo-worthy, with a good photographer. In any case, most everybody gets stuck on the name.

Glory, glory.        

 Above photo in no way conveys the deep orange glow emanating from within. Which is *FANTASTIC.*
Some blowing.

Who uses them for their original purpose anymore?
These are the sorry battered remains of phonebooks, would you ever have known? She rolls the glass on them to cool slightly. They hiss and singe. Maybe I am inventing the hiss.
Magic crystals! glass granules to melt on the outside of the orb.

She will roll the molten glass over these tasty bits. 

Here comes trouble!
Creating spiral patterns with old trusty needle nose pliers.

How's that for a way to spend an afternoon? Or a decade? Or a life? I can't help but feeling sometimes that people who make things with their hands, people who create things on a daily basis are some of the best people around. It was quite a treat -- maybe more glass afternoons in the future...

This was one of two ornaments hanging near her...auxiliary furnace. First a close up:

There's so much going on with this free-form bead! I love the swoopy black and mauve on the bottom half. And somehow at the top, my vary favorite part is that smaller orb of clear glass with the bubble inside (upper left). You can see other colors through it and yet it's almost like a resting place. A pause within the larger color play.

And then we have the whole ornament...
the ceramic bovine sees all.
Handy tip: If you're local, you're lucky. She's having an open house I *believe* on Sunday, November 20th. If it is a truly public affair, I'll update this with details...

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