Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Glass Park: A Studio Tour of a Hot Glass Shop

marble making demo earn park
Eran warming up a glass rod in preparation to make a marble
A couple days ago Eran Park, the owner of The Glass Park in Ft Wayne, IN let me to spend some time hanging out in his studio. Technically, I was doing this as a project for a college class I'm taking this semester. However, I thought maybe you, our readers, might like a peek inside a glass blowing studio. 

Park teaches an intro class and it just so happens he was teaching a class to a couple who purchased the class through a Groupon offer. The class begins with a discussion about safety, including ventilation. And this hood above the bench is a thing of beauty. Not every studio I've been to has adequate ventilation. 

ventilation hood the glass park fort wayne indiana
Ventilation hood covered in various stickers. Park's shop mate Alan working at the torch. 

Park walks through various tools, explains a little bit about glass and the different types. His studio works exclusively with borosilicate glass. Once he finished the overview, he did a marble making demo, explaining what he was doing and why throughout.

marble making demo earn park
Park creating a marble during a class demo. 

marble making demo earn park
Park adds dots to the exterior of what will become a vortex marble. 

marble making demo earn park
Park shapes the marble in a graphite marble mold. 

marble making demo earn park
Marble being fire polished with a tiny torch with a super concentrated flame. 
Once he's completed the demo, the couple are free to play on the torch. It's all very laid back. He gives 3 rules: do not put the glass against the tip of the torch, do not burn yourself, and do not cut yourself. All very good rules.

He helps them get the torch fired up, assesses what they want to do, then assists them in getting there. The couple I observed taking the class made leaves to start with. They both made at least one pendant, possibly more. (I didn't photograph the students at all.)

It was clear the more time she spent at the torch, the more the wife was falling in love with melting glass in a flame. I think perhaps a new glass addict has been created... I asked Park how many students get that "twinkle" in their eyes when they first melt glass. He responded maybe 1-4%. And only maybe 10% of those end up back at the studio for more lessons or for torch time. 

kiln annealing the day's work
The studio kiln that holds the day's work and student creations to be annealed overnight.

Park not only makes his own art, and teaches classes, but he also rents out studio time. Alan is one of his shop mates, and is there on a fairly routine basis as he is selling all the work he makes and plans to do glasswork full time. 

Allen working at the torch
Alan is Park's shop mate that took up glass blowing just over a year ago. 

Alan was there working during the entire class, so I would periodically go watch what he was doing and ask lots of questions....trying to avoid being too annoying.

Allen working at the torch
Alan melting in decorative detail.

Both artists create gorgeous glass pendants and other functional art glass pieces.

Allen blowing into molten glass tubing
Alan blowing into the tube to enlarge and shape the molten part of the glass. 

When I first arrived at The Glass Park, I was immediately greeted by Blaze the studio dog. Eventually he curled up in this chair to sleep.

Blaze the studio dog of the Glass Park fort wayne indiana
Blaze, the studio dog. 

Allen working with molten glass
Alan blowing glass. 

The studio itself shares a building with a barbershop on the south side of town, and is actually very large. The walls are covered in glass related magazine covers, posters, etc. There is also this large roll of paper for people to draw on.

For random studio doodling
Music is very nearly as important as the glass. If there was any type of pause in the music, it was immediately remedied.

And, in case they want to do an impromptu jam session, there's a drum set.

You never know when people at The Glass Park may have a jam session. Instruments are kept there for that reason. 

There is also a piano and guitars. And yes, they get used. I asked.

Wall art at the Glass Park includes guitars, which can be used for a jam session at any time. 
You can like The Glass Park on Facebook and visit The Glass Park's website for more information.


  1. I don't know a lot about glass but I know a thing or two about being a Park. It is clear that Eran is an able ambassador of glass, of education, and of music. The Glass Park stands as a haven to lovers of beauty everywhere. Thanks for presenting a fascinating article about an amazing person.

  2. That must have been so much fun. I can watch glass work for hours. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  3. Very cool! I've always been fascinated by glass works and the amazing artists who master the glass into those astounding pieces! Especially the 'blown-glass' variety. Thank you for showing us..and Blaze looked soooo comfy! What a great name for a glass-worker's companion!


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