Local glassblowing artists Adam Frus and Joshua Dopp are on a mission to prove that making your own glass art can be easy -- if you have the right (and often pricey) equipment.
Both Dopp and Frus operate the Highway Hotshop, a mobile glassblowing service that gives demonstrations, workshops and entertainment in different locales. They mainly tour and teach at educational places including the Heard Museum, the Desert Botanical Gardens, and the Tempe Center for the Arts.
The glassblowing team teach numerous classes for creating glassblowing art and have shown that for all its unique and beautiful flair, glass art is fairly simple to do.
- Glory Hole (not kidding)
- Punty Rods
- Marving Table
- Pipe Warmer
- Frit (crushed up colored glass)
- Cullet (crushed up clear glass)
- Flat Tongs
- Blow Torch
The two realize not everyone has access to the above, which is why they offer hands-on classes where students can use provided equipment on site.
There are many different things you can do but the easiest piece that Frus and Dopp teach is a flower.
1. First you start out by putting a punty rod into the furnace and gathering a big glob of melted cullet on the end. Roll it out on the marving table to get a nice rounded off shape, then over some frit to make it pretty. Pop it quickly into the glory hole to keep it hot and melt the cullet with the frit.
2. Then quickly use flat tongs to pull the glass into an outward moving shape, like that of a blooming flower. Doing this will give your glass flower petals. Remember to be fast because if you take too long your glass could cool off and break!
3. Once you do this, heat it up again in the glory hole.
4. Once it's heated, pull the rod out and turn it upside down in midair. This will let the glass stretch out to form a long stem.
5. When you're happy with the length, use shears to whittle down the end of the stem but don't break it off yet.
6. Set the piece on its side (preferably on a steel table or something) and cut the bottom with shears. Blowtorch the end to seal it off.
7. Then quickly pop it in the annealer where it will cool off over the course of twelve hours. Don't leave it sitting out because nature is very likely to be harsh on your glass creation and warp or break it.
Now you have a beautiful glass wildflower that won't die and stink up your house or that you can sell for a nice profit.
Because as Frus and Dopp have shown, the effort put into handmade glass works merit the price tags.
As a part of Highway Hotshop, Frus and Dopp
currently give classes on crafting multiple glass art forms ranging from
amphoras to birdfeeders.
Their next event will be at Vive el Vidrio in Tucson on April 8 through 10.