Wednesday

Glass Blowing In Half Moon Bay California

When I was a kid living in Southern California (we didn't call it SoCal in the olden days) we made a yearly trip to Disneyland in Anaheim.

The Land was only about an hour away, but when your age is still in the single digits an hour seems like a day.  There is the possibility my dad took the long way so I would think it was farther and not ask to go more often than the one time each summerNot that I could be a pest or anything.

One of my favorite things to do at Disneyland was watch the Main Street artisan glass blowers make delicate little pieces of Disney memorabilia.  I always wanted to watch longer than anyone else in my group, and might not have ever actually seen a trinket completed before we moved on down the street.

Forking over my hard earned allowance to purchase what seemed like a pricey blown glass memory isn't something I recall doing, but I do remember a friend buying a tiny glass Mickey Mouse on a necklace and I am pretty sure I was envious.  She probably earned more allowance than I did.

Fast forward to being an adult, and my BFF mentioning glass blowing while I was visiting.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

I didn't even hesitate when she asked me if I wanted to go. 

So last month right there in her coastal town of Half Moon Bay was a place that not only could I watch their glass blowing escapades, but I could be part of it. 

The art glass place is a little shop in the back of a winery and the two places have different owners.  While we were there the winery owner brought a few ladies and their wine over for a tour and we ended up being the entertainment.

It might be just me, but being around a studio of breakables with hot molten 2000 degree glass lava, and someone holding a long rod with melted glass on the end, isn't a place I'd be comfortable going with wine in my hand and in my belly, but I tend to stumble when both those happen.

Jojo went first so I could watch how it's done since she had recently been there and it was fresh in her wine free mind.

The first thing to do is select the item to make.  For our price we had a choice of a solid glass paper weight, a flower thing, or a little pumpkin.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

There was no question pumpkin was on the menu.  Half Moon Bay is known for it's yearly Pumpkin Festival.  I've been there in October before, but never for the festival.

A few years ago however I did paint a box to pay homage to it.....

Painted Wood Crate, Bliss-Ranch.com

I mentioned the pumpkin was in our price range - but blowing a glass pumpkin is not an inexpensive little outing, however Jojo snagged a groupon which made the whole experience totally worth it, and basically I am now hooked on pumpkin making for future trips.

So back to the glass blowing......

After the pumpkin decision is made colors are selected.  There is an endless array of color combinations.  Solid opaque or translucent, iridescent or sparkles added.  I went for a neutral pallet and Jojo opted for a traditional orange since at home she has a blue and green one.  She's starting a collection whether she intended to or not.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Different stem colors are possible as well.  The whole color selecting decision is limited only by the imagination.  My imagination wanted one of every color.

The young ladies that work at the studio are fun and it's obvious they've done this a time or two before.  They lead the way - there is a lot of turning the long stainless steel rod to keep the hot glass from falling off.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Safety first with eye wear and flame proof gloves, at least for the guests.  In the photo above the rod is going in for it's first dip in the clear glass.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Hard to believe that orange and yellow cone is going to turn into an almond colored pumpkin, but it does.  Above we are still rolling it while it is red hot.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Since I picked neutral colors with iridescent flecks of glass, my hot blob of glass was rolled twice in glass pieces.  First in the larger size almond chunks of glass for the base color over the clear, then in the small flecks of shimmery stuff. 

The glass on the rod end is rolled over the pieces of solid glass that are in metal bowels on the ledge in front of the melted glass vat, then it goes back in the fire to melt it on the base, all the while turning the rod.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

In the photo above I am on the other end of the rod and with the guides help we are spinning and twirling my pumpkin into a round sphere.  I did ask if she had ever burned herself before.  The answer was "oh yes".

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

At the bottom center of the photo above is the metal piece that will give the pumpkin its shape.  While the glass is on the rod it is pushed into the mold very briefly and then taken back out, to put ridges on it in the shape of a pumpkin.

Then it is time to blow the glass.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

The guide is the cheerleader for this step, offering encouraging words to keep blowing while she rolls the rod.  There was no surprise that I was plenty full of hot air.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Another guide comes in and makes the stem in the selected glass color and twists and turns it like taffy when it's pulled.  Then the stem is plopped on top of the pumpkin and the guest uses tongs to help stretch it to a size that looks good.

I also know for a fact that if you don't like how you stretch your stem or if it looks a little wonky, that it can go back in the fire to be heated up for a second try.

The photo below is Jojo's pumpkin about to get knocked off the rod.  She took a big spoon and gave it a whack and with a cracking noise the rod separated from the pumpkin.  It looks purple at this point, but that is only temporary.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

A torch is used to flatten the bottom so the pumpkin will sit flat for display.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

After the pumpkin making is over they go in a kiln to anneal them, which is the process to cool the glass down to a certain temperature, and they can be picked up the next day.  The pumpkins come out looking beautiful in the colors that were selected.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com


Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com


Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com

Really, I don't think there could be a bad color combination in the pumpkin patch.  So from traditional oranges to hot pink, there is a color glass that can be melted and blown to make the pumpkin of your dreams.

Glass Blowing Pumpkin Bliss-Ranch.com






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3 comments :

  1. Very impressive!!! I knew you had a lot of hot air in ya! They turned out beautifully!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have the fondest memories of going to D-Land as a kid. I remember those little glass figurines, too. How fun to try glass blowing. Both of your pumpkins are adorable!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, that sure looks like a fun day...love the little pumpkins, and the fun photos!

    ReplyDelete

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