Check Glassblowing Off The Bucket List

I have several seemingly strange things on my bucket list. I’m not even certain how I got these ideas to put them there in the first place. But one of them was to blow glass. It is not the kind of goal or giant bucket list item that takes a ton of money or even weeks of preparation so I figured with some other big changes in my life this year, this would be the one I could check off pretty easily. I found a coupon for Agnes of Glass here in Denver on LivingSocial (although you can actually get a better deal just by calling her studio).

So on a bright Saturday morning, I headed over to Agnes’ place (Yes, there really is an Agnes) located at basically 40th and Colorado in Denver. The studio is a nice little place.  We (there were about eight people in the class) were welcomed in by Agnes herself and her partner, Renee. As we came into the shop we were asked to fill out a release and sit on the benches. We were called up one by one to pick out the colors of our glass. I filled up my little plastic shot glass with yellow, red, orange and blue (I didn’t pick green). Then returned to my seat on the bench in the back row. After everyone had filled out their form and filled up their cup, Agnes stood in the front of the benches in the middle of the studio. She demonstrated how to make an ornament with the assistance of her nephew, Miles. They were careful to talk through the safety and ensure that we all knew what we were going to do. Agnes was very patient and has a great teaching spirit. It really felt like we were welcomed guests into her home and she was sharing her love of her art with everyone.

AgnesofGlass

Picking up color on my ornament.

We were called up one by one (I was thankful not to be the first). Miles or Agnes would dip the giant metal bar into the “volcano” which has Agnes’ special mix of crystal (the clear glass). We would then take the bar, all while keeping the glass moving (so turning the bar) and touch it into the colored glass that we had chosen. Essentially this was making the glass chards of color stick to the hot crystal glass. We would then place that in the “Glory Hole” to continue melting the glass (Renee helped at the Glory Hole). Then we would take it over to where Miles was standing and while twisting he would clip off the end of the glass. Put it back in the hole. Then sit in the sled (pictured below) to shape/actually blow the ornament into shape. We could make a choice of an ornament, paper weight, or shot glass. As we kept turning the glass blowing the air right into the ornament with a rubber like tube. Turn, twist, air. Then we would score the glass and tap it off the pole. The last step is to take it over to the other stand and “kiss” it with crystal once again – to make the hook for the ornament.

glass blow 2glass blow 3

It would take a couple days to cure. The glass has to cool down slowly so it doesn’t break. I would return on Tuesday to get my ornament. I was so pleased. It was beautiful. The colors had come out a bit more than when it was hot (when it was hot the red looked more like a burnt brown). I can’t wait to hang it on my tree next Christmas and say honestly, “I MADE that.” Yes, I may go again. With friends next time.

The Ornament I made at AgnesofGlass in Denver.

The Ornament I made at AgnesofGlass in Denver.

 

What is on your bucket list? Are some of them one-day two hour deals too or are they bigger undertakings? What have you made that you are proud of?

SNOWmazing Sculptures In Breckenridge

I have to throw out the disclaimer that I love Breckenridge anyway. I think it is one of the coolest small towns in America. But really Breckenridge is like no other when they host the Snow Sculpture Championships each January. The center of town (really the parking lot of the Riverwalk Center) is transformed, for a week, into an outdoor gallery of SNOWmagination.

Teams across the globe (this year there were 16 teams representing 12 countries) carve 12-foot tall blocks of snow (using no power tools or internal supports) into the most awesome and imaginative pieces of art. If you go, be sure to pick up one of the programs as they do a good job of detailing what the piece is about or the “story” behind it. Each year they are different. But one thing remains constant each year, they are elaborate and detailed.

Amour Toujours

Amour Toujours

A week prior to the Championships Breckenridge Ski Resort makes snow that the Town hauls to the site (using dump trucks). Volunteers stomp the snow in preformed wooden molds. One volunteer said. “they blow snow in, then they climb in and stomp, climb out, blow more snow, stomp…it’s quite a workout.” I suppose packing a 10 feet wide, by 10 feet long by 12 foot high block of snow tight would take some work. From that, the artist have just 65 hours to create a masterpiece using only hand tools (think of all that good stuff you have in your kitchen drawers).

 

Our favorites this year? We each picked out separate ones. Mine was Team France’s “Amour Toujours or Always in Love” which depicts a mom kissing her daughter. My son liked Team Alaska’s “Cabin Fever: The Mad Trapper and the River.” My daughter loved Team USA-Breckenridge “The Sculpture” with a Gepetto looking guy crafting a snowflake. 
20150130_190639

The celebration doesn’t just end with the impressive sculptures but also there is entertainment (fire dancers), DJs, Demos, and fun for kids too (they can climb on one of the sculptures and you get to see what one of the blocks looks like when they start. (We did wonder why they weren’t having showings of Disney’s Frozen).20150130_180754

While parking can be a bit of a hassle, there are free shuttles that pretty much run all day (6am to midnight). The sculptures will remain on display through Sunday, February 8.

Elsa (from Frozen), you’ve not nothing on creating amazing out of snow and ice compared to these teams! Really, cold never bothered me anyway.