One of my ongoing goals is to continue to seek out opportunities to be creative and to break my routine. Recently, I checked out opportunities via Stumptown Art Studio in Whitefish, Montana, not far from where I’m spending some vacation time. Stumptown offers classes and workshops for kids and adults in a wide variety of art forms.

I was thrilled to see an introduction to glass blowing,  given by Eric Klein of Farenhite Glass Works. I’ve always found this particular art form to be compelling — the heat, the flame and color, and the ability to mold a material otherwise hard and brittle into something beautiful and often delicate. I recall a visit to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, several years ago, and sitting entranced for at least an hour watching the artists work in the hot shop. So, taking this workshop was an easy choice.

While newbies don’t actually get into the physical act of blowing, my four-hour workshop was an amazing introduction to the art of handling glass, and I made two paperweights!

Glass-blowing — or, let’s call it glass crafting, as this session included heat and tools but no air — was a fascinating balance of art and science. At first, I was nervous — would I do it wrong? But working with the glass was surprisingly forgiving, and reinforced the idea that with art, there is no “wrong”. As I continued to work with the hot glass, I became less and less uncertain, realizing that many mistakes were easily corrected.

For instance, on several occasions I scraped my hot glass creation against the concrete doors to one of the furnaces,  leaving an unsightly residue that marred the otherwise smooth appearance of the clear glass. But this was not a serious problem – Eric was able to manipulate and easily cut out the offending pieces. A reheat or two, and some additional molding, was all that was required to bring the piece back to where I wanted it.

Overall, it was a fantastic introduction to this unique art form, and taught me even more respect and admiration for the serious glass-working artist. Eric was a great instructor, bringing  a calm manner and his own expertise to the workshop while letting the students try, fail, recover, and learn.