Glass Floats

Glass-blowing in Newport, Oregon
“If they don’t have a glass-blowing class this morning,” I ask Brent, “are you going to be disappointed?
 
We’re headed to The Edge Art Gallery on Highway 101 in Newport, Oregon after killing an hour with breakfast at the Pig n Pancake.
 
The Edge opens at 10:00 a.m. and Brent is hoping he can make something in glass. We enter at 10:15, the only customers in the store. The glass-blowing equipment is in the next room, fully visible through a glass wall.
 
Amanda confirms they have a class starting at 11:00.
 
“Great,” said Brent. “I’m in! Are you, Cindi?”
 
“Absolutely!”
 
“Pick the item you want to make,” Amanda instructs, “and three colors from those hanging up there.”
 
We pick our colors. Both Brent and I want to make a float bowl. It’s a float ball, famous in seaside towns on the West coast where Japanese glass float balls have historically washed ashore. But instead of keeping it as a globe shape after blowing it up, we’ll suck back a little air, causing the ball to fold in on itself, creating a bowl; a much more practical object then a glass ball.
 
“Let’s get started,” Amanda says, though it’s only 10:35.
 
I go first. She describes each step of the complex process, physically demonstrating where we’ll stand or sit, and showing each tool for each job.
 
I’m nervous!!
 
Amanda picks on us, good-naturedly. She pretends to leave the room just as my large ball of glass looks especially soupy and apt to fall off the stick inside the burner (or “glory hole” as it’s called). She stays behind, though, signaling to Brent to not let on. 

“Oh, no,” I say, spinning the stick so the bowl doesn’t go off-center, hoping she returns… and fast! But Amanda steps up and takes over, laughing. Brent is snapping photos and I do the same when it’s his turn.

 
“Slow down, Turbo,” she tells Brent several times. “If you spin too fast you’ll make a plate.” 



Amanda won’t allow us to ruin our bowls. Brent places his colored glass in rows and it turns out quite elegant; black at the bottom, a little white, tan around the lip and orange in the bowl. (Amanda seemed a little enamored of Brent and gave in to his request for an extra color).
 
The bowls must cool down overnight and because we’re headed to Sun River for the week, they’ll ship the bowls to our home in Arizona.
 
On the way to Sun River, we travel through Willamette National Forest with winding roads and snow on the ground. It rains most of the way and the scenery is so breathtaking it hurts.
 
Brent takes curves and ascents so hard, I notice steam coming from under the hood when we stop to take a photo of the trees and snow.
 
Back on the road, he starts to guns it again.
 
“Slow down, Turbo,” I say, grinning.
 
And he does.

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