How lidded vessels are made

It’s been quite a while since we made a post from the glass studio! Here you can see some of the working process that goes into creating lidded vessels, which serve beautifully for functional as well as decorative use.

They make amazing trophies but also can be custom made for sweets and table displays or special flower arrangements. If you send Jason Stropko your design he can give you a quote and create pretty much any object of desire thanks to a well rounded technical ability that takes many years to master!

Jason has now been making glass full time professionally for 10 years + 4 years study before beginning on this career path!

Working with glass artist Evan Kolker

Working with glass artist Evan Kolker on his high quality Pitcher Plants for exhibition later this year.

Working with Evan Kolker on his amazing blown glass Pitcher Plants.
Working with Evan Kolker on his amazing blown glass Pitcher Plants.

introducing glass making colleague: Evan Kolker

Glassmaker and Artist Evan Kolker at work in Glow Glass Studio in Oakland, working on a pitcher plant, September 2015. This is very technical work requiring years of glass working experience. Evan is regularly assisted by Jason Stropko and sometimes assists with Jason’s projects, too. There are some things that are very difficult if not impossible to create without having a competent assistant who also has a thorough understanding of how glass works.

Evan Kolker at work, making a pitcher plant, September 2015 @ Glow Glass Studio in Oakland
Evan Kolker at work, making a pitcher plant, September 2015 @ Glow Glass Studio in Oakland

DSC_3171 copy

Glassmaker Evan Kolker at work @ Glow Glass Studio, assisted by J.Stropko (September 2015)
Glassmaker Evan Kolker at work @ Glow Glass Studio, assisted by J.Stropko
(September 2015)

Evan Kolker at work, making a pitcher plant, September 2015 @ Glow Glass Studio in Oakland

then there was the day when everybody was at the Glass studio…

… there was a hive of activity, everybody was working.. David worked on his line of drinking glasses with rocks embedded in them, Evan assisted, Jerry worked with a  group of clients with another glassmaker assistant, Heather was just outside the field of vision working on a deadline…

Glow Glas Studio in Oakland, California, full of activity!
Glow Glas Studio in Oakland, California, full of activity! (David Battaglia, Evan Kolker, Jerry Kung and Cody Nicely assisting + 3 brand new glassblowing students / designers standing around)
DSC_3201 copy
Jerry Kung explaining something
DSC_3212 copy
David Battaglia at work making his rock-drinking glasses

DSC_3231 copy

DSC_3198 copy
Jerry Kung giving a glassblowing demonstration to his students, with Cody (to the far right) assisting

..but where was Jason?

Sometimes every hardworking glassmaker needs a restorative siesta...
Sometimes every hardworking glassmaker needs a restorative siesta…

Assisting Alex Abajian making large blown glass lampshades for a commission

As an outsider I just keep finding it amazing how much physical energy and simultaneous fine tuned technical skill goes into making each object that emerges from the hands of any of the glassmakers here at the studio.

Alex Abajian making custom lampshades matching existing sets precisely. When you work with technically advanced glassmakers you will get what you pay for: very special glass pieces!
Alex Abajian making custom lampshades matching existing sets precisely. When you work with technically advanced glassmakers you will get what you pay for: very special glass pieces!

Alex Abajian has some serious skills and a few more years of experience than most of the other glassmakers around the studio. It is always additionally exciting when two or more talented makers work together!

When the furnace is down and all plans change…

… this is where if you were new to glassmaking you would learn about the fact that once in a while each ceramic melting pot, sitting inside the furnace, will develop a crack, due to erosion and unforeseeable factors.. Once the crack deepens it either causes molten glass to leak or an effect takes place that is best described as ‘cords’ developing in the glass, which float on top of the molten glass and can appear in the blown glass pieces as raised cord like areas.. This is rendering the molten glass a lower quality and hence creating an unworkable situation.

This is when it is time to face the challenge and begin a 10 day process of cooling the furnace and molten glass slowly (several days), changing the ceramic crucible (ceramic pot that holds the molten glass) and bringing the furnace and a new batch of glass back up to temperature. The entire process takes somewhere around 10 days.

Of course this can throw a real spanner in the works when multiple glassmakers all booked time to create glassworks, when students lined the doors to take classes… We got lucky and Jason is able to continue teaching his glassblowing classes at Glass Hand Studio, a Glass studio on the lovely island (which originally was a peninsula) Alameda, just down the road from Oakland. Jason had met the owner Prax recently at a Jeff Mack, goblet making workshop that Jason assisted at. We are really happy that Prax can host Jason’s classes!

Jason just received a whole batch of bookings for glassblowing classes through #Verlocal and we are pretty excited about meeting these new students who will be coming for individual short sessions. The first few classes will be at Glass Hand Studio in Alameda before we relocate back to Glow Glass, where Jason usually works with fellow glassmakers, creates his own glass and teaches…

#BayAreaGlass

#2 from the day of working with Alex Abajian and Ivan Mora

(written from the perspective of a glass-layperson)

This was one of the most exciting projects that I have been able to witness at the Glass Studio so far. The teamwork among these glassmakers is really great, there is a huge amount of competency coupled with fantastic working atmosphere. The day is spent working incredibly hard with serious concentration and yet there is always a surprise moment when Alex’s intelligent sense of humour gives occasion for laughter and short refreshing relief. I have rarely seen people work so incredibly well together as here at Glow Glass Studio in Oakland.

Alex Abajian holding the blowpipe with the large body cast glass (project for Ivan Mora)

Witnessing this process and the attitudes the makers and artists here have with each other has done a lot for my appreciation of the craft and technical skills-manship but also is taking dusting influence over both Jason and my (Birgit’s) future choices of places to live and creative paths to pursue.

Having this opportunity to be here is incredible. Seeing all this hard work affects hugely how I, as an artist and glass-layperson, am able to appreciate this material and the possible forms of expression. Coming from a conceptual arts background it is refreshing to be surrounded by the down to earth labour these creatives are bringing to the table each day.

Jason torching the large glass body cast to keep it at even temperature to protect it from cracking before it can be placed into the annealer for a day long, controlled cooling process.. Project by Glass Artist: Ivan Mora
Jason torching the large glass body cast to keep it at even temperature to protect it from cracking before it can be placed into the annealer for a day long, controlled cooling process.. Project by Glass Artist: Ivan Mora

After witnessing just how much dedication and years of skill are required to excel in this field, seeing the amount of dedication as well as equipment required to build a smooth running glassblowing workshop changed my perception a lot. The value of glass in our society is huge, this is an age old but simultaneously incredibly fresh and contemporary medium that can teach us something about the value of an object that a China or Mexico produced (knocked out) mass ware item will never be able to.

When you see or hold handblown glass there is a connection that you will not experience with mass market products. In theory wine, juice or water should taste the same out of every drinking glass for example, however in practice: if you have any sensibility at all then the experience of drinking from a handmade vessel will be far superior and infinitely more pleasurable than from a  throwaway valued glass or paper cup..

Alex Abajian holding the blowpipe with the large body cast glass (project for Ivan Mora)Don’t let the price fool you: you will receive what you pay for. A lifelong heirloom treasure or an anonymous object that is the same the world over…

Back to Ivan Mora: look him up! He is a really successful artist making his way in the world; quite literally globally! And all the while he is also a real pleasure to speak with. This is the best combination in an artist isn’t it? Talent, success and absence of attitude. Brilliant stuff!

working with Glass Artist Jess Wainer at Glow Glass Studio…

Yesterday Jason assisted Jess Wainer creating her beautiful luminescent large glass lampshades for a client commission. In the light these shades virtually glow and diffract colour into these gorgeous washes of green, yellow, red.. When not hit by direct sunlight the shades are a warm golden honey yellow with a whitish fog over towards the rim.

The picture shows Jess’s work straight from out of the annealer after their overnight controlled cooling process; before the items are cold worked and finished, hopefully we can show her final pieces, too.

Each lampshade will sell for $1000, 3 were ordered.

Lampshade designed by Jess Wainer, created with assistance from J.Stropko