I happened to see an offer recently on Living Social, which is still available here, for the Aquila Glass School in Portland. I’ve worked with stained glass for years, but I’ve always wanted to try glass fusing, which is exactly what they offer. My husband and I had decided that since we only have one kid left at home, and that one only has one foot in the nest, that we’d try some new experiences, so he was on board to take the class with me. We scheduled the class for a day he was going to be on vacation, and I waited patiently, anxious to learn a new craft. We knew we had arrived at the right place when we spotted their appropriately colorful door.
We had a little time before the class started, so we spent it looking around the displayed projects and components for sale. I loved all the circles in the piece at the back.
And I was kind of in awe of this bowl. All those little rounds!
Our instructor’s name was Scott, who is also one of the two owners of the school. I knew I was going to like him when he informed us that there’s no difference between art and craft and that all of us in class were artists. He said we need to stop looking at craft as something lesser than art, and remember that people like Frank Lloyd Wright and Michelangelo were craftsmen. I found it inspiring to hear from someone I considered to be an artist that the fact I usually call myself a crafter puts us on equally creative footing.
These are some of the examples Scott showed us when he was explaining how the fusing process works. It’s fascinating to me that glass is so predictable in its desire to be a certain thickness, and the ways you can use that when making fused projects.
We started with three pieces of clear glass in three sizes, and lots of colored glass in different shapes that we could cut, nip or leave as is. I was so focused on our little spot on the table, I completely missed what everyone else was up to, but it was so much fun playing with all that glass.
You’ll never guess what’s in that little brown bottle, which is used to glue the glass pieces together until they’re fired in the kiln. Hairspray! I think I used more than my share that day. There was some on my glass too.
Here’s something you’ve never seen before – Joel and I working on a craft side-by-side! Thank you to my very nice fellow classmate for taking this rare pic!
This wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows us, but Joel’s projects were an eclectic mixture of colors and shapes. He was into the science of it, seeing what different pieces and stacks of glass would do when they were fired. These are his before firing.
My pieces have more pattern and recognizable shapes. Much of the reason we make a good team is our differences in style and the way we look at things. This is how mine started.
And what they looked like after firing.
I love everything we made, and we’re both anxious to try our hand at this again. I’m planning to pick up some bails to glue to these so I can wear them as necklaces. I think my favorite piece is the red, orange and yellow in the upper right. I was going for something like fire, and I like the abstract version of it that came out.
I don’t care how uncreative you may think you are, you CANNOT fail at this. You are literally stacking glass. We keep thinking of different ways to put it together that we’d like to try next time. If you’re in the Portland area and want to try a fun craft with friendly, knowledgeable people, I highly recommend giving the glass fusing class at Aquila Glass School a try. I promise you won’t be sorry!
For the record, I have no affiliation with Living Social or Aquila Glass School, I just really enjoyed this class!