Testing Glassworking at Boston’s Diablo Glass School
Illustration by Kirsten Ulve
On a Friday afternoon at the Diablo Glass School’s aptly named “hot shop,” I find myself staring into the gaping mouth of an enormous furnace holding 270 pounds of bubbling molten glass. Standing nearby, glass blower Keith Cerone and his two assistants coach me through the process of making a paper-weight during one of their three-hour “Glass Friday” workshops.
Though I’m wearing shades, the heat coming off the 2,150-degree oven threatens to singe my eyebrows as I dip a long stainless steel rod into the honeylike liquid. Cerrone demonstrates how to continually spin the rod—called a punty—while tipping it slightly downward to create a Q-tip-shaped bulb at the end. As I follow his instructions, I start to sweat. The school’s furnaces keep the room at a toasty 95 degrees—perfect for a Baptiste yoga class, perhaps, but a little uncomfortable out of Spandex.
After 90 minutes of dipping and swirling to build up layers of glass, I’ve created a fist-size glowing ball. Time to add some color. I blend in two shades of green glass, then shape the piece into a cylinder and set it inside a mold, which dimples the surface. When it’s dipped into hot glass once again, these tiny dents trap air bubbles, giving the appearance of depth.
Cerone then carefully removes my paperweight from the punty and smooths the surface with a blowtorch before cooking it in a 950-degree kiln, where it will sit for at least 20 hours—otherwise, my still-glowing masterpiece could cool too quickly and explode.
We cap off the workshop with wine and a glass-blowing demo. When I pick up my piece two days later, I’m hooked — all it took was a few hours of sweating to channel my inner Chihuly.
$95; Diablo Glass School, 123 Terrace St., Boston, 617-442-7444, diabloglassschool.com.