October 20, 2017
Lee Financial has a team building tradition that they like to call ‘Crazy Day’. On this day, they have several different events planned and no one has any idea what they are about to walk into – be it driving construction equipment, a painting class, or in this case – a glassblowing studio! The employee with the honor of planning the event worked with us to create an experience that would appeal everyone. A full breakfast spread was set out which they were to enjoy during the demo from Carlyn and the team.
Carlyn greeted the Lee team on the microphone and introduced them to our glass team that they would be working with. Carlyn started the demo off as Clay gave an introduction to the equipment, tools, and safety measures as Carlyn took her first gather of glass. Clay picked up three bits of color out of the color box and melted them together.
Carlyn blew into the pipe and capped the end of the pipe with her thumb. Effectively trapping the air, and forcing it to take the path of least resistance – out into the glass, creating a bubble! Clay reheated his color until it was all molten and brought it over to perform a ‘color drop’ with Carlyn. The colors were of Lee’s logo, navy and orange.
Carlyn gathered a layer of clear on top of the color and shaped her piece with a wooden spoon called a block.
After reheating, she began rolling the tip on the metal table called a marver to cool and began blowing up and filling out the shoulders piece.
Phillip blows into the pipe for Carlyn while Clay shields her from the radiant heat coming off the piece as she uses newspaper to fine tune the shape. There is so much teamwork involved in creating these lovely pieces, seeing it in action is like seeing a perfectly orchestrated dance.
Once the shape is defined to Carlyn’s liking, she gets a nice even heat on the piece with the propane torch and prepares to add the jackline.
Clay turns the pipe for Carlyn so that she can use two hands to squeeze down the jackline while Phillip shields her forearm from the intense radiant heat.
Now it is time to attach the bits of glass which decorate the sides of the final piece and end up being the feet of the bowl. Clay gathers glass and shapes it into a cone. This is called a bit. The success of their piece is dependent on their collaborative teamwork. While Carlyn stays in a holding pattern, making sure she is at the perfect temperature for proper adhesion of the bits; Clay brings three bits of the same size, shape, and temperature. This ensures they all look and act the same as Carlyn drags them up the piece.
Next, it’s time to transfer the piece using a punty. Clay shapes a small bit of glass and brings it to Carlyn who sticks it to the bottom of the piece and then applies drops of water to her jackline to create a stress point. All it takes is a gentle tap to Carlyn’s blowpipe and the piece fractures right on the jackline as expected. With a perfect release, Clay takes it to the reheat hole to help solidify the connection and get the top of the piece hot enough to open.
Using the jacks, Carlyn pulls down the lip of the bowl to open it up. The bowl truly starts to take shape at this step.
Now all that is left is to take a final heat. The final piece takes its own organic shape with centrifugal force and gravity! Using a few drops of water on the punty connection, Carlyn releases the bowl into Clay’s gloved hands and they use a torch to fire polish the connection spot. The piece is now complete and is placed in the 950-degree annealer to cool at a controlled rate to avoid any cracks.
After the demo, we split the group of 40 participants into two groups of 20. One group stayed in the hot shop and started creating their own glass flower or globe. Here we can see one happy student working with Clay to stretch out the stem to her custom flower!
The second group was set up in the gallery with a fused glass project where the participants could choose either a coaster or sun catcher. Sara issued a square of clear bullseye glass to each member and they were then free to decorate using the various supplies set out. With various sizes and shapes of colored glass to add the design possibilites were truly endless. Some participants enjoyed the calming process of setting up their glass fusing so much that they made a second piece to gift to a loved one.
The fused tiles were then set aside awaiting their turn to be fired in the kiln!
This event was fun for the whole team here at Carlyn Ray Designs, and we hope that their special bowl which is displayed in their lobby will remind them of the joyful experience they shared with us!