Glassblowing: An Unforgettable Experience

On Friday, September 26, a group of students from the program went to Segovia, a small city north of Madrid, for a day-long glassblowing workshop. We spent the day in La Granja de San Ildefonso, a glassblowing school and workshop. First, the instructors demonstrated the basic technique of scooping molten glass out of the oven with a metal rod, splashing the rod with cold water to avoid burns, and shaping the glass with wet newspaper and metal tongs. When the glass hardened, we broke it off the end of the pole and left it in a special incubator to finish cooling. Our first creations were simple paperweights – basically round blobs of glass. As the day progressed, we learned how to add color and bubbles to our paperweights. Then, we learned how to blow into the rod and make the molten glass balloon out at the other end – this is the starting point for making vases, pitchers, and bowls. We took a break in the middle of the day to eat lunch and explore the glassblowing museum. In the afternoon, one of the instructors worked individually with each student to design and make a special piece. In the meantime, the rest of us learned how to make little teardrop-shaped pendants and vases with long, thin necks. The day went by in the blink of an eye – it was a blur of heat from the molten glass, excitement about finally getting the glass to balloon out at the other end of the pole, and awe at the instructors’ demonstrations. We were lucky to have a hands-on experience with such a beautiful form of art!

Kate Keenan, Tufts in Madrid, fall 2014


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