Blown: My Stay in Seattle, Day 2

Not only has it been weeks since I published My Stay in Seattle: Day 1, but I’ve also already traveled to the opposite side of the country since then. I’ve got some catching up to do. Continue reading

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Glass Blowing Lessons in Seattle

Glass blowing is something I had always wanted to try. When I wrote my bucket list, it was among the many things which I thought seemed distant and unrealistic. In fact, the bucket list in it’s entirety seemed that way when I first wrote it. That’s worth it’s own entry, though. I digress.

I didn’t take any photos while I was in the studio, because I was elbows deep into molten glass. Not really, I just like how terrifying that imagery is. I don’t know why I assumed that blowing glass wouldn’t be difficult. Perhaps it was the Chihuly videos I had watched the day before at the exhibit, where I saw the ease only a genius of their craft could have doing their work firsthand. Everything about it was challenging. We had to place a cement block next to the furnace just so that I’d be able to reach into it to efficiently place the molten glass on the pipe. The glass was, as you would expect, lava hot. The distance at which you had to be was close enough was painful. I wondered if I should have worn sunscreen. You’d really think I would have taken the heat to MELT GLASS into consideration, or that the last twenty five years of enduring Texas summers was training for this day. Nope.

Inside the furnace was fluorescent orange from the immense heat, with the vat inside filled to the brim with clear molten glass. When you’re gathering the glass to the pipe, the glass has the density of molasses. You’ve got to lightly dip the pipe into the glass and quickly take it out of the vat while spinning the pipe, but leaving it in the furnace. However, the glass is invisible and your eyelashes are being singed off while you’re looking for it. Watch out for that. You repeat the dip, lift, and spin process a few times, until you have enough glass on your pipe. Then you take it over to an area with a tub of water, roll the parts of the pipe that don’t have the glass on it in the wetness to cool it, and by then the glass has also had a moment to cool.

So you take the pipe to another oven. This one doesn’t have molten glass inside and it’s a bit cooler, at roughly 2349826352001 degrees Fahrenheit. I resisted the urge to put on my sweater. They call this oven the Glory Hole. As in, “I put my rod into the glory hole” or “Its really hot on the other side of the glory hole” or “Don’t get to close to the glory hole, or it’ll melt your face off.” Through the process of shaping and blowing the glass, you will frequently return to the glory hole to keep the glass hot enough to manipulate. You can shape the clay by using various tools: over-sized tweezers, some intense looking scissors, wooden molds, and the A, B, and C section of a newspaper, folded up into a five inch square and submersed in water. The tweezers seemed like they’d be the coolest, because you could pull the glass into shapes. If you were good at it. If it’s your first time, it feels like there’s another human equal your size pulling in the opposite direction of the glass so that you can’t do it. But there isn’t, it’s just glass. And it’s hard to move glass no matter how hot it is.

With a lot of help from the instructor, I ended the day with a paperweight, an ornament, a candy dish, and a disfigured octobust for Tobias. (I meant to type octopus, but I felt that typo was appropriate. I’m just instinctively funny like that, I guess.) It was really cool, in a burning lava hot kind of way, and I would definitely go for another shot at it, with hope I would get better with practice.

 

I made this!

I made this!

PNW: My Seattle Stay (kind of): Day 1

My fiance, Mark, and his colleagues were invited to Seattle for a briefing on new products from a leading software company. For some reason, Mark really likes having me around all the time, so he invited me on the trip. In my usual fashion, I spent a few weeks searching the web for life-changing, bank-breaking activities in the area that Mark would have no interest in because apparently I can’t just go to zoos, museums and the tallest building in a city to enjoy travelling. GO BIG OR STAY HOME, I say.

We arrived with two of his colleagues in the afternoon and went straight to his Seattle office, which was attached to a mall of sorts. Mark had suggested that I sit in the conference room and work, like his colleagues would be, while he had a meeting. I thought this was a terrible idea. Because 1. I have a hard time with meeting people in a professional setting, (especially when I don’t have to) 2. My work was already done, that’s why I was on vacation and 3. I was 2,200 miles away from where I live and EXPLORATION. He had suggested I shop around the mall instead, and I politely HELL YEAH’d my way away from the business elevators and toward the shopping escalators.

I went into one store but shopping generally has one of three effects on me: it leaves me bored, guilty, or hating my body. Plus, it was a beautiful day. I stepped outside to see if anything more exciting would pop up, and protruding out of the distance was the defining characteristic of Seattle’s skyline, the Space Needle. It’s huge, so it had the illusion of being somewhat nearby. I headed in it’s general direction, without too much thought about my needing to be back promptly after his last meeting.

After a few wrong turns into a lot of construction, I reached the base of the Space Needle.

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It’s pretty grand, though you can’t marvel at all of it’s Jetson-like mid-century-modern glory from this angle. I didn’t have the patience or the time to make the trek to the top-what’s a view of the Seattle skyline without the Space Needle in it, anyway? As was trying to get a worthwhile photo, I stumbled upon the Chihuly Garden.

I had signed up to do a glass blowing class for the following day, so it just made sense for me to check it out the works of a world-renowned glass blowing great.

It was impressive, to say the least.

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Sometime around my fourth loop around the gift shop, I received a text from Mark asking me if I was done shopping, because he was just about done at the office. I [politely] shoved what was currently in my arms toward the nearest cashier, and set out to make the trek back to where I was supposed to have been the entire time.

Once he, his colleagues and I all met back up, we drove toward our hotel in Bellevue. The hotel was a couple of blocks from the software company’s office and where we’d be having dinner with them. I was super not-stoked about the dinner (see above: not liking business situations when I don’t hafta) but Mark is super fan boy over this company and their products, had always wanted to work for them, wanted to make a good impression, and narf narf narf.  I was more concerned with not obviously being the dumbest person in the room or seeming like Mark’s half-retarded-but-not-ugly trophy fiance. (Hey, not everyone gets the gold.)

Dinner ended up being a great time: free food and wine, plus more conversations about relationships, YouTube videos, legalization of marijuana in the state of Washington, and Team America: World Police (which all seem to be along the same lines, now that I mention it) than about which coding languages one preferred and other narfy things. PHEW. SAFE.