“Who wants to go first?”
Both Nicole from Bitten By The Travel Bug and I immediately pointed at each other. I must have someone lost (or won) the finger pointing draw, because I was selected to go first.
Our instructor, Sui, took one look at me and said “Ok, we have got to do something about that hair.”
A hair dye was procured, my fro was tied back (flaming hair was not on the agenda today), and I was suited up with safety goggles, gloves, and a heavy duty apron.
I had no idea what to expect from our visit to the Canberra glassworks. In facts, I had very little idea about the whole glass making and shaping process full stop. In fact, I had earlier joked that I would probably just make a big glob of glass and call it an abstract paper weight. So I was bemused when I was shown the selection of four items I could choose to make – three of which were paperweights! But unlike my earlier vision of how my paperweight would turn out, these ones were actually quite pretty!
My first question before choosing a design was: “Exactly how much skill do I need to personally bring to the table here?” He answered none, so I happily selected the complicated looking bird design, and the coloured glass pellets that I would make him with. Yellow of course.
First we needed to get our blob of glass. The furnace was immensely hot – at over 1000 degrees celcius, I felt like I might spontaneously combust just being near it. We grabbed out molten glass and began to get to work shaping it. It was fast paced work – you need to shape the glass when it is at just the right temperature – if it is too hard or too soft you wont be able to achieve your desired result. I was pretty stressed that I was going to stuff it up big time, but Sui assured me I would be fine.
Meanwhile in the background, two of the other glassworks employees were rushing back and forth between the ovens and the working table, creating a giant glass insect while a group of children looked on. The glass works had recently held a design competition for kids, and the glass workers were now creating the winning designs based on the drawings the children submitted. It was fascinating to watch them create each wing, leg, and antennae, and I sort of wished there was a similar competition for 26 year old children as well.
By the end of my session, my original blob of molten glass looked surprisingly birdlike, and was already beginning to quickly harden. He was put into an oven which would slowly reduce his temperature, so that he would not shatter, and was sent to me in the post about a week later.
After the five #humanbrochure VIP’s had finished making their glassy creations, Sui came over and started talking about his passion for glassworks. He told us that he lived for making clear glass flowers and unicorns. After asking him how long it takes to make a unicorn, he quickly walked away, grabbed some hot glass and about 1 minute later had created a delicate little rearing horse. After my ten minutes of struggling to create a fat little robin, I was well impressed.
The glassworks in Canberra offers several glass making workshops and classes for all ages – making it a great alternative tourist idea for those wanting to do more than just see the sights during their visit to Australia’s capital.