The hot shop is another word for the glassblowing studio. It’s called hot because this is where we work with glass in its hottest form: a thick, gooey liquid. This is the intense (and sometimes intimidating) studio where we have two giant glass “furnaces.” Each furnace contains a crucible (big bowl) full of liquid, molten glass. The heat from the 2100F furnace is quite intense! Most people check to see if they still have arm hair after the first time they stand next to it. The glass is worked on the end of 5-foot steel rod while it is between 1400F and 2000F. Steel rods can be solid (punties) or hollow (blow pipes). Using a blow pipe, an artist can blow (inflate) glass into a shape, like a cup or vase. The temperature in this studio is usually 10 – 20F hotter than outside.
Some people get really excited about the idea of inflating glass, so we divide our hot shop classes into “blowing” classes and “sculpting” classes. In the blowing classes, you will actually blow air into the pipe to inflate your artwork. The sculpting classes involve making things that are solid glass, so they don’t need to be inflated. You will still get to touch, poke, twist, and cut the glass in these classes using tools, but the objects aren’t inflated.