The Glass Shop

October 30, 2010
By Anonymous

I grew up in a glass blowing studio. Both my parents were glassblowers, and their studio was right inside our house. Being an only child in a small, rural town with few neighbors or kids my age, I spent most of my time hanging around in the glass shop with my parents. The shop was our work place and family room all in one.

The glass shop was a large room below street level with a concrete floor and white sheet rock walls (Except for one rock wall that remained from the building’s old foundation). The floor was always littered with little, glittering bits of colored glass. Having a concrete floor was a great convenience. It wasn’t always the coziest thing in the winter, but if I wanted to ride my scooter in the shop or draw on the floor with chalk, I could. In the center of the shop was a big, steel worktable. I can recall a time, when I still had training wheels on my bike, that my dad and I would race our bikes in circles around it. The smooth floor was also perfect for scooter races. The only rules in the glass shop were that you couldn’t walk barefoot (for obvious reasons), and you weren’t allowed to bounce balls that could get out of control and knock things over. Otherwise, as long as you didn’t break anything, you could do just about anything you wanted. My dad and I were always having squirt gun fights or rubber band fights in the shop.

The glass shop was a scene of color and clutter. Shelves filled with dust coated perfume bottles, bowls and vases lined the walls on one side of the shop. Atop the stone foundation wall were chunks of colorful, coral-like glass. Fragile, glass bubbles the size of basketballs hung from the support beams like shiny balloons. Most of these glassy orbs were of my making (my early attempts at glass blowing). Almost every year my class would take a field trip to my house to watch my parents give glass blowing demonstrations. I would also demonstrate by blowing those glass balloons. I loved those field trips. All my classmates thought it was so cool that I had glassblowers for parents. They’d walk into the glass shop, look around in awe and say, “Whoa! You get to live here? You’re so lucky!”

One of my favorite parts of the shop was the great, four-paned window that faced the back yard. On its sills sat fragments of frosted, sea-green, plate glass sculptures that resembled crashing waves and oceans of prairie grass rippling in the wind. I loved the way these fragments glowed in the afternoon sunlight that flooded in through the window.

The shop was always brightly lit by long bars of fluorescent lights - except for the shadowed end of the room where the beast, the glass furnace, slept. Like a great iron dragon it slumbered, grumbling in the corner under its metal hood. You could hear a constant, low rumble emanating from the fire that burned within the beast’s belly. When the top of the furnace was rolled back, the agitated beast would awake, roaring and spewing molten fire.

The furnace also offered a sense of warmth and welcome. It was our main source of heat during the long winter months and was my dad’s favorite place in the house to be. No matter what time of the year, you could always find him there taking afternoon naps in his beat up, plastic chaise lounge or standing with his back to the furnace, “warming his buns” as he called it.

To many, at first glance, the shop seemed a cluttered and dusty place, but to me, it was a place of adventure and creativity. Opposite the big, four-paned window was a tall, white, two-door cabinet. My parents bought it for me when I was very young and filled it with art supplies in the hope that it would inspire and encourage me to be creative. That white cabinet was my favorite part of the glass shop. It was all my own. In the cabinet were all the art supplies you could ever imagine. There was your basic paper, colored pencils, crayons, and markers, but that was only a small portion of what was in the cabinet. There were also things like clay, beading supplies, seashells, origami paper, ribbon, bells, paint, glitter, and so much more. With my big white cabinet full of art supplies and an endless supply of other unusual materials such as scraps of plate glass, I felt like I could create anything, anytime I wanted.

During my free time, there was nothing I loved doing more than creating art. There was a sense of joy, satisfaction, and pride I felt after completing an art project. The harder or more complex the art project, the better. I loved the challenge of trying to create something with my own hands and the feeling of accomplishment it gave me to see the end result. This desire to do well carried into my schoolwork. I put the same kind of care and hard work into class projects as I would in a painting. Many of my friends thought I was crazy to be spending so much time on schoolwork, but they didn’t understand that I actually enjoyed it. When my Biology class was given the assignment to create a model of a cell, I made my cell out of sandblasted plate glass and painted all the organelles different colors. It was a challenging project that took longer to make than most other classmates’ cell models, but my glass cell turned out to be one of the most impressive things I’ve ever made.

My parents' wish for me to become a creative and artistic person was granted. Growing up with artistic parents in an artistic environment, I learned to use art as a way to express myself. I found my own means of artistic expression in music and playing the flute, and I’ve enjoyed it as much as working on art projects in the glass shop. My life became focused around the arts and is still my focus to this day.

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