Saturday 02/02/13 after lunch, Sue and I drove over to East Kingston, NH to Ridabock Glass. Sue had signed us up for a 2 hour introduction to glassblowing with Pete Ridabock, and it was really a lot of fun.
After a really informative introduction to glassblowing explaining some of the basic physical movements and mechanics that are employed, Pete and his assistant Brad took us through a couple of test dry runs of the full process. Though no individule movement is really that complicated in itself, it's the combination of moves and along with a need to be constantly aware of the state of the molten glass that we saw was going to be challenging. And it was challenging!
We started out for real by each being guided through the process of making a small paperweight. This gave us a really good feeling as to how the glass behaved both while being gathered from the crucible as well as forming it into shape. It was a neat way to get the general hang of things, for sure.
Then, after a little more detailed coaching, we were taken through the process of making a small juice glass. Now, that was an interesting process. And required so much more control of the glass as it cooled. When Pete had first explained how the interior of the juice glass was going to be created, it sounded a little abstract. Before you could do the interior, you had to transfer the partially formed vessel from the initial rod onto another.
Realizing that process required quite a bit more finesse than beginners would have, Pete and Brad performed that task. It was like watching a well choreographed surgery with each taking and using various tools and combining their movements to keep the shape of the glass from degrading. And then, with just a light tap on the initial rod, the partially formed juice glass broke off and was then totally supported on the second rod. Don't try this at home without adult supervision!
Once the transfer was complete, we got to create the opening and inside of the juice glass. Not quite so easy of a process. Nope. We found that out pretty quickly. Even just a slight jerk or uneven pull on the tool will create marks on the glass or leave bubbles or bulges in the sides of the glass - all of which happened to both of us as we struggled with it.
Not that it took a long time to do: the glass is cooling all the time, and so you have to really hurry to shape the glass while it is pliable. In fact, Pete had to re-heat both of ours midway through because of this: a not uncommon or bad thing. But it did clearly show that there was a lot of technique involved that is not evident without going through the actual process yourself.
But then, that's really what art is at its core, right? The real artist makes something very difficult appear to be very easy. Glassblowing is not easy. Sue and I can both attest to that!
This was an amazing experience, and we're both glad that we had the opportunity of participating with a master craftsman. It's no wonder that it took the full 2 hours to make these very simple items. We walked away with a great appreciation of these artisan's skills in creating such beautiful art.
After leaving Ridabock, Sue and I stopped off for an early dinner at Margaritas in Exeter, NH. Sue had wanted to compare their coconut and lime margarita to their branch in Portsmouth. And, we were in the mood for some Mexican food. Well, the food was good but the margarita just didn't measure up. So now, Sue wants to compare all of this with their Dover, NH location. Sounds good to me! We went home, Sue made up a home brew margarita for us, and we watched The Matrix, totally enjoying the uselessness of it all.
Sunday during the morning we did some cleaning and lanudry and then headed off food shopping. We wanted to get back early enough to play some backgammon and enjoy the bottle of 2009 Alpataco Pinot Noir, an Argentinian wine that I had got at The Meat House in Portsmouth during the week when I went down to get the organic pork chops that I planned for this dinner. After a few sets, we went into the kitchen and pulled together a wonderful rosemary and oragano herbed pork chops on a bed of orzo mixed with peas, thyme, and garlic. Great stuff. We finished off the night with enjoyable 2011 Anne Hathaway movie One Day.