Try your hand at glass blowing - Video
I LIKE to think I'm a bit of a daredevil – and I'll try anything once.
But on this occasion I'm willing to admit that standing in front of a glass furnace roaring at over 1,100 degrees centigrade did make me feel more than a little nervous.
The National Glass Centre in Sunderland is offering special one-to-one glass blowing experiences that give you the chance to experience traditional hand blown glass making with support, advice and assitance from a hot glass artist.
Never one to miss a chance to try my hand at something new, I jumped at the opportunity to give glass blowing a go.
To begin with, as I put the iron into the roaring hot furnace, I wasn't so sure that glass blowing was for me, but my studio tutor Christine Keers guided me through the techniques I would need to create my masterpieces.
When you put the iron into the furnace, you have to 'gather' the glass, which is just like rolling honey around a honey drizzler – but on a massive scale –which is what enables the artist to mould and shape the glass into whatever design they are creating.
Using tools like wet newspapers, a file, a piece of wood, and even gravity, to help create wonderful pieces of glass art, was awe-inspiring.
The glass then goes back into a reheating chamber at 1,300 degrees to reheat the glass to allow you to add more to it.
Having created my paperweight, it was now time to learn the art of glass blowing to create a tea-light holder.
As you blow into the glass a tiny bubble appears, which grows as you add more glass, and blow and roll it until it gets to the size you want.
A bit more moulding and reshaping and then my pieces were done and were placed in the kiln ready to cool.
The sessions teach you how to gather and marver and blow glass, and you then get to take home your prized finished article at the end of your session to proudly display it at home.
Glass studio manager Chris Blade said: "The first piece of glass you create, you never forget.
"To take part in glass making is to experience something out of this world.
"We want to welcome visitors to the area, and invite them to learn about glass, work with our resident studio team or purchase one-to-one glass making opportunities.
"Glass is so unpredictable a medium; each piece made is totally unique."
Visitors are able to watch the hot glass team producing glass everyday between opening hours at NGC, 10am-5pm. Glass blowing demonstrations with commentary take place at noon and 3pm and are free of charge.
National Glass Centre glass blowing experience vouchers are priced from 99 for a half day package including a two hours glass blowing, and a full day package at 174 which includes four hours of glass blowing.
Packages are available now by calling (0191) 515 5555 emailing info@nationalglasscentrecom or visiting www.nationalglasscentre.com
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