Phoenix Glass Blowing and Glass Art



Circle 6 Studios
Phoenix Glass Blowing Gallery and Workshops
501 E Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85004
www.circle6studios.com
602-454-9342
There aren't many options for Phoenix glass blowing, but luckily we have Circle 6 Studio in Downtown Phoenix that not only retails the works of local artists, but also offers workshops for any novices and beginners interested in experiencing the craft. We discovered this unique gem one First Friday as we wandered down Roosevelt. The gallery displays the works of several artists that often work collaboratively on projects and designs, and the result is a great variety of traditional and contemporary glass art. As we talked with one of the artists, we found out about the classes and workshops for people interested in Phoenix glass blowing, so we signed up for the email list in hopes of having some fun and make a paperweight! (To be added to the email list, email John Longo at john@circle6studios.com and tell him you heard of them through the Things To Do in Phoenix website and want to join the email list for classes and workshops.)

You can imagine our delight when we received an email about mini Phoenix glass blowing ornament workshops! For $50, without having any previous glassblowing experience, each participant can make 2-4 color ornaments (that normally retail $15-$45 at the gallery). February's workshop will be glass hearts for Valentine's day, and Mother's Day's workshops teach you to make glass flowers, to name a few upcoming projects.

Our ornament workshop took place a few miles away from the gallery in a backyard workshop constructed for the artists. We had two instructors that gave a lot of aide to us newbies. One of instructors got the molten glass on a stick for us, and we pressed it into chunks of color then stuck it in the "glory hole" (pictured right) while rotating slowly so the glass didn't drip off the end of the stick until the color melted into the liquid glass. John reshaped it a bit on the end of the stick, and then they both helped us form the ornament. Always turning the stick so the ornament didn't drip off or get lopsided, one instructor blows the glass up as the other instructor guided us with something resembling a cross between really big tweezers and a medieval torture device that pinches the top of the ornament and helps create the circle of the ornament and the weak spot where it breaks off the stick. All the glass is red hot as you work with it - the ornament being made left is actually colored with green - but the instructors are so hands on, it's safe for children to participate in these Phoenix glass blowing workshops.

After the bulb is formed and the right size, they tap the stick and it cleanly breaks free. The instructor dabs new molten glass on the remaining hole, and bends it to create the hole for the ornament hanger or ribbon. We made 3 ornaments, and for our last one, they gave us the choice of a textured ornament blown using a mold that would give it grooved stripes, or making an icicle by pulling the glass and wrapping it around the end of one of the sticks (Pictured below). The glass cools quickly, and to prevent it from breaking, it is put in something like a kiln that temperature controls a slow cool down (Pictured at the end of the article).

The classes were the right balance of hands on and instructor aided where you're guaranteed to end with pieces that will amaze your friends, but you had enough of a part in their creation that you can say you made them. If you want to learn how to do every step, start to finish, Circle 6 Studios offers a sequence of workshops that build your skills and techniques. By the end of this series of classes, participants will pull flowers, paperweights, a bowl, etc. These classes are meant for more serious students, if you just want to dabble and have some fun, we'd suggest the 3 hour workshops. They give you a great taste and appreciation for the art of glass work without being too intense. Make a fun event of this with your friends and visit some of our favorite Downtown Phoenix restaurants: Matt's Big Breakfast or Jobot Coffee Shop for crepes if you took a morning workshop and are in need of breakfast. For lunch or dinner, we love: The Arrogant Butcher, Pizzeria Bianco, Hanny's, The Breadfruit, or Sens. Or grab a bite at Phoenix Public Market's Cafe - if your class was on a Wednesday afternoon, you can hit the food trucks at Phoenix Public Market's open air market after your workshop. We went for breakfast at Matt's, and loved the experience it created by pairing our ornament workshop and a delicious breakfast!

Pictured left are the creations made by the 5 people in one of our classes. We'll pick up our new art in a few days after it's cooled and update you with a final picture, but if you've ever even thought it would be fun to try Phoenix glass blowing - it really is a cool experience. Since our first time, we've taken the ornament workshop, the bowl and paperweight workshop, and one of us has finished the beginner 6 week course and is on the intermediate courses. The vase workshop is high on our list for the next project.

Pictures of every item we created will take up too much room - but to the right are a few examples of the items we've created. A great thing about Circle 6 Studios is they often offer a discount on your workshop when you've already taken a class with them. The workshops are constantly evolving, so periodically check their website and make sure you're on the email list. This is our new favorite gift as well, because it's a great activity, and you get a pretty souvenir for your house!

Want to learn about other hands on art opportunities besides Phoenix glass blowing? Click here for other artsy things to do in Phoenix!