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Glassblowing; an ancient art

Shipwrecked Phoenician sailors, marooned on an island, may have been the first to discover glass. They noticed that the sand around their campfire had melted and turned to shiny solid. In Egypt and Mesopotamia potters accidently witnessed glass forming while glazing their pottery.

Glass blowers were often held hostage so that their craft wouldn’t be shared with others. During the first century, glass workers were forbidden to leave their country. Venetian glass blowers as an example were threatened with death if they left the island of Murano. Some did; and left for Switzerland, France, and Belgium.

Artist enjoys sharing craft skills with curious onlookers

In our present-day, glass blowing has become popular as an avocation and profession. In Troutdale which is becoming a mecca for artisans of different media you will find glass blowers at McMenamin Edgefield’s Glasshaus. Lucy Blue Berger, manager and her co-worker Robbie Frankel, have made glass blowing their profession. From rods of colored glass, primarily from Germany, they create a plethora of art pieces right before your eyes.

Lucy was first introduced to glass blowing in high school and instantly she knew this is what she wanted to do. The first art piece she created was a flower and she remembers it didn’t look anything like a flower. Still it became her passion. Like she says there is nothing more satisfying for her that taking a “blob of color glass and creating a one of a kind art piece.” She opined that at one time “glass was more valuable than gold.”

Her favorite pieces she likes to create are goddess vases. It takes her about an hour to complete. The colors she likes best are blue and pink.

The glass studio has two fully operating glass furnaces operating at 1600-2000 degrees, and a kiln for finishing. There are from 10 to 12 glass blowers working throughout the week. These artisans create their own art pieces depending on what moves them at the moment but they do commissioned pieces, as well. Glass blowing is physically demanding, requires a creative mind, and dexterity to perform the hand work of shaping and sizing the piece.

During an average day, Lucy and Robbie will have 30 guests; and during the summer and peak times they’ll have from 100 to 200 observers. If you have never witnessed glass blowing and the creation of glass art pieces you will find it fascinating. Lucy speaks and educates those watching as she goes through the different steps to the final creation.
For that one-of-a-kind gift or heirloom art piece at very reasonable prices you are invited to visit Lucy, Robbie and their fellow artisans.

Balefire Glass by Robbie, robbie@gmail.com and Lucy Blue Berger lucyblueglass@gmail.com.

Hours of operation are 7 days a week from 11am-5pm at McMenamin Edgefield.

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