What To Expect In A Glass Blowing Class At Holdman Studios

I once had an opportunity to make a glass-pulled flower in Lehi, Utah and it was so much fun that I decided to go back. This time, though, I wanted to experience glass blowing.  

Holdman Studios offers one-on-one classes where you can learn how to make a candy dish, glass flower, paper weight or, in the fall, a glass-blown pumpkin. 

The studio only offers this experience on Fridays and Saturdays and so the schedule fills up quickly. You’ll need to book well in advance if you want to make multiple pieces back to back. You can book you appointment online or over the phone.  

My husband and I went in a few minutes early to sign a waiver and then chose colors for our pumpkin. For most glass pieces, you can choose up to two colors and they had a couple dozen to choose from: several shades of each color of the rainbow.  

I went with topaz gold for the pumpkin and adventurine green for the stem.  

The studio was cozy, though, I wouldn’t have thought so if I were to be working with glass all day like my instructor, Jareth. He was relatively new to teaching which gave me a more hands on opportunity than what other instructors might offer. 

Jareth said he was experimenting to see how much he could involve clients in the process, and this process was somewhat familiar to me. I had only pulled glass before, but the first steps for making a pumpkin were nearly identical to making a basic flower.  

Glass blowing is an art that dates back to about 27 BCE in Syria and the process hasn’t changed much over the last two thousand years. 

First, the instructor poured some colored glass crumb, called powdered color, on a metal table from a jar. Then, taking a blow tube or blowpipe, he scooped up some molten glass from a furnace. This portion of glass spooled on the end of the blowpipe is called a gather. Jareth turned the gather several times to get a round glob of bright orange then rolled it on the metal table into a uniform, cone-like shape. 

He then rolled it across the trail of powdered color and dipped the gather once again into the furnace of molten glass. He rolled this again on the metal table to shape it, and then reheated the gather in a second furnace. 

Every finished piece is placed in a third furnace, called an annealer, for at least 24 hours. This allows the glass to cool slowly and keeps it from cracking. 

Now, back to making my pumpkin: Jareth blew the initial bubble into the melted glass and rolled it a bit more. The molten glass tends to droop to one side, so the blowpipe needs to be rolled or turned nearly constantly to keep it straight to and to prevent it from falling off. He pressed the glass gather into a mold to give the pumpkin its ridges along the sides. 

Then he sat at a work bench while I knelt at the end of the blowpipe and I blew into it while he rolled the pipe and held a paddle at the end to create a flattened bottom. The glass often needs to be reheated between steps in the second furnace to keep the piece pliable and it was so cool to assist in all these steps.   

Next, it was time to make the stem. The first part was about the same as with the pumpkin, and he shaped it in the same mold, only it was a smaller piece. I sat at the bench and turned my pumpkin back and forth to keep it from drooping while Jareth worked on the stem, and he was able to do it at a much faster pace since he didn’t have to walk me through it all.

Jareth traded blowpipes with me and had me turn the stem so he could take the pumpkin aside. Using a pair of jacks, he separated the pumpkin from the pipe and excess glass. He took my blowpipe and placed the end of the molten stem on the hole in the top of the pumpkin and pulled the blowpipe up, thus stretching out the stem. 

He twisted the end of it around a small rod to form a curly-que and tapped the glass with a hammer to break the thin end of the glass stem off. 

Unfortunately, the cute curl broke off as well. Jareth apologized while he torched the end of the stem to smooth out the jagged edge. He was really cool to own up to his mishap and suggested I bring it up with the office. He said they might be willing to give me a small discount for next time. 

However, when I went to pick up my pumpkin and mentioned what Jareth said, they told me I could me leave this pumpkin and come in to make another one. That would have been tricky since they get booked out and the glass pumpkins were a seasonal option.  

I appreciate that they gave me a choice, but they weren’t very nice about it. One person said, “It’s not going to be perfect because you made it. If you want a perfect one, you could commission one by a professional, but then you don’t get the experience.” 

I was disappointed because it was Jareth who broke the part of the stem and I had made that clear. I didn’t hold it against him, of course, but he and I knew it wasn’t a beginner’s error.  

I paid $55 for a glass blowing class as well as a pumpkin and I wasn’t thrilled with how it turned out. It’s super cute, but I was bummed to see other pumpkins with that little curly-que. I was simply hoping for a 10% discount for next time and a kind word.  

So, over all it was a good experience, but not great. I loved the hands-on learning and Jareth was great to work with. The administration staff could have handled it better, though.

Despite my small frustration, I plan on going back again. I simply love learning as I'm doing, and this is something I want to try again and again. 

In a additon to a basic flower, paper weight, or candy dish, you can also make a bird feeder, a small platter, or an advanced flower. And right now, you can a class to create a glass Christmas ornament! 

Next time, my husband and I want to make a candy dish together. We want to make a blue and white piece that is reminiscent of a gorgeous glass wave we saw on our honeymoon in Kauai. Maybe we will do that for our sixth wedding anniversary next year. 

Unfortunately, Holdman Studios is currently out of my two favorite shades of blue: Lagoon Blue and Aquamarine. I will be calling them to ask if those have been restocked before I book a class to make our candy dish.

I hope you're excited at the idea of working with molten glass, and please let me know if you try it out!

What would you like to make in a glass blowing course? Share in the comment section below!



Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog. 


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