Glass Blowing Houston

What do you think of as creativity?

What do you think of as creativity?  Is creativity the phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created?  To me the capacity to be creative is one of the most important characteristics that we as humans can possess.  Whether we are creating a “new” idea or a piece of art, the process draws upon all the knowledge and experiences that we have within us. But it is difficult to sit down and say, “Okay, now I am going to be creative”.  How many times have you been doing something mundane or repetitive (taking a walk, run, or shower perhaps) and all of a sudden a solution occurs to something you have been trying to figure out?  At that time your mind and imagination are free and you are receptive to new ideas or solutions, patterns are visible to you in a different way than before.  Is the creative process different for a scientist than it is an artist?  As an earth scientist you take pieces of information, hopefully factual, and put them together to form a theory about a new play or lead that you can test out.  As artists we try to take what we know about materials, forms, and color and make something that will evoke emotions in others.

There will be a Hot time in the studio this week!

We are so excited to have our friend and glass blowing colleague John T Hogan coming to work with us this week!  We meet John in Seattle in March of 2013 when we lucked out and got him as our glass blowing instructor for our weekend class.  He helped us shake down our new studio and equipment in March 2014 and we set a six month plan for studio updates and technical skill achievement.  We have been working hard and have moved forward on all fronts, even through some obstacles which have come our way.  Can’t wait to see what this week brings for us!

Whew, a look back can really make you proud!

WOW have we learned a lot!  And not just about glass blowing, fabrication and studio maintenance. Each member of the Three Dimensional Visions team has been a true contributor sharing their expertise and gaining new competences.  Less we forget here’s a list of our achievements in the last year:

  • Designed and built glass blowing equipment – workbenches, studio tables, heat shields, yokes, pipe cooler, pipe warmer, marver, knock off table, torch stand, stairs for loading into Tommy Top loader, and last but not least our fabulous new exhaust hood…there are still things to do but this is a pretty good start.
  • Organized our color area for efficiency and learned to recycle as much of the glass we use into trash glass, murine, glass for fusing, or making a zen garden
  • Set up our studio gallery space and started learning about our market and our customers
  • Held live demos, instructed our first students in private and group workshops, and have corporate and social events on our schedule
  • Found people interested in participating in non paid internships, trained them as blowing assistants and production technicians and now we have a new member of the Three Dimensional Team, Mike DeMarse.
  • With the help of MV Poffenberger artist/graphic designer we have designed a logo, business cards, banners/signage, and marketing postcards
  • We learned how to spend lots of money quickly.   Oh I already had this skill!  But now it can be tracked in quickbooks and we can evaluate the effectiveness of our spending.
  • Designed our website and then got a professional involved to really get it going!  Much tanks to Matt Gleason we now have a calendar where you can see what’s happening at the studio, register and purchase tickets for events, and purchase items from our online store.
  • Started working on our fabrication shop.  We now have about 24 feet of work bench in there, a corner to be set up for ceramics, some great tool boxes with additional work space and some heavy duty shelving.  Still lots to be done but we have the space up and going so that our friend and colleague Rachel Haynes can work on her glass ideas.  Many thanks go to Rachel for her knowledge and skill sharing with her Three Dimensional Visions family.  She is a glassy girl!
  • The jewelry / small fusing studio is up and running.  The AC now works and it’s a great place to work with two French doors and a full side of windows.
  • The property (6.5 acres) has almost been cleaned up from dead wood and all the trash that the previous owners left in all the nooks and crannies.  We can now start thinking about our permaculture plans and outdoor art.
  • Last but not least is the gallery space.  We have made some pedestals, put in some glass cabinets and hope to have an opening for the holidays.  There will be a call for art probably in October.

Now it’s time to create some art!  Whew a look back can make you really proud!

Exhausting Challenges!

We have been planning our new glass blowing exhaust system (i.e. big kitchen hood) for quite a while. Who knew that designing it would be just as challenging as procuring materials and building the framework? Michael spent a lot of time thoughtfully designing and redesigning. We decided on 16GA 304 stainless steel for the hood and 16GA steel for the “esthetic” front pieces. Challenge number 1 was just finding somewhere in the Houston area that carried 304 stainless in sheets. The frame has a modular design that bolts to the building and to itself to support the six 80-90 lb. sheets of stainless that form the hood. The entire frame was put up in about 4 man days. But then late Saturday afternoon we realized we needed a man lift to actually pick up the 80-90 pound sheets and place them on the frame so we could screw them in place. We found one and have it rented until Monday morning. So now I am watching from the office window while the guys are playing with the buttons trying to safely operate their new toy. It is 2:30 pm and there are 5 sheets of stainless to install. The rented man lift must be returned by 9 am on Monday. Do you think we will make it? Or will they exhaust themselves trying to get the machinery to function? Keep an eye out for pictures to accompany this story! Wish us luck!

Emptying the pot for the first time!

Annually we must empty the crucible, cool it and then check the elements, the electrical connections, and the pot of our electric furnace.  This starts by emptying all the molten glass from the pot and then slowly cooling the furnace down. Sounds like a relatively easy process.  So we had a bevy of folks here this morning to help out.  We had made a ladle and that worked brilliantly as we ladled globs of molten glass onto the steel marver.  That’s when we made our first two aha’s – we could have blown a little more AND we could have planned on doing some castings at this point.  But…  Once the ladle became ineffective we made a glass rake which picked up more and more glass by gently scraping the sides and bottom of the pot.  After making a few of  these (they get too big to be manageable and you have to make them smaller while managing the heat) we had another aha moment!  We did not have a pipe or rod long enough to reach the bottom of the crucible due to its height and the angle of the gathering port.  So being fabricators we made a steel rod with two bends in it — one to get pass the gathering point and a second to angle it into the base of the pot.  Then we were able to pick up a “dollop” of glass at a time.  All of this was at charging temperature, so every time you open the furnace door it’s like you have opened the gates to hell.  Well, that was okay until the darn kevlar mitts start catching fire because it is taking SOOO long to gather up that dollop of glass.  Aha moment – higher temp liquifies the glass allowing it to pool in the bottom of the pot while cooler temp allows for bigger gathers!  All this time we are having problems with our controller and the temperature is lowering a couple of degrees a minute.  It’s 3:30 pm on a Friday afternoon and we are calling them trying to get technical support.  We need to stop this rather rapid temperature decline quickly.  We reached out to our glass blowing friends for their expert advice and they promptly responded, we got the controller reprogrammed, and we emptied our pot for the first time and it is cooling now.  Working glass is intoxicating, and exciting…and sometimes a little stressful when you are doing things for the first time. It is an exciting adventure we are on with the lots of opportunity for AHA moments and creativity.

Glass Enthusiasts Welcome!

Welcome to the world of Three Dimensional Visions!  We are wanting to make connections with other glass artists, glass lovers, and people who want to enrich their lives through artistic self-expression.  We are a new glass studio and gallery that opened on April 1st 2014!  How appropriate, April Fools!  We are the Houston area’s only open access glass blowing studio.  That means that you can come and watch us work anytime.   Hot glass is our main media but we work on fused glass and a few cold glass projects.  We love visitors so come on out.  We are currently developing a group of interns who will be vying for a production technician job at our shop.  That means they assist the glass blowers, help maintain the equipment, and keep the shop clean & functioning effectively.  Sometimes they have to chase our ferrel chicken, Beauty, out of the shop and collect her eggs when she roosts under one of the tables.  We also plan on having artists in residence.  These folks will come to our studio, teach us and others, hold an event and get some studio time of their own.  We have been very lucky to meet some great folks here in the Houston area who are experienced blowers with private studios and they have been very wonderful about sharing their expertise.  We look forward to passing it on.  Stay tuned to our posts as we hope to talk about everything that we are doing from the creative process, to the adventures of starting your own business, learning new skills, teaching glass classes, creating art, and selling art.  What works and what doesn’t!  Okay, that’s it for now — hope to talk to you again soon.