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A Fuser's Approach to Glassblowing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Hall   
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ever since I read the heart of glass is found working in hot glass, I've wanted to do it. Understanding the dedication it demands, I decided to postpone this desire until my youngest daughter turned eighteen (to focus on being a good father). Then it happened.

The girls grew up and there was my dream. Warm glass had become my passion, and I'd heard about the roll-up technique. After taking a Corning week-long roll-up workshop in 2006, I really got into preparing wonderful thick fused pickups, ready to go. Before long I had a dozen of them, but still hadn't found a way to the hot shop. Friends got tired of me talking about it and said, "Just do it already!" I wanted to, but where do you start? What's worse, I didn't have a lot of money to spend, let alone all this new equipment needed to blow glass.

I remembered an old lesson: Don't be afraid to ask, and don't be disappointed if the answer is 'no'. Using male intuition, I called a friendly hot shop and asked to work part-time doing chores in return for a gaffer blowing out a few of my nicer pieces. It worked and I was able to be the 'helper' gaining as much as you can by watching real close. Hey, it looks so easy (but we all know better than that). My first solo attempt ended up with the piece on the floor! Then there's fussing with the seam of the roll-up...yikes! We wondered out loud if a cylinder could be made in the kiln. That notion changed my life.

I began the cylinder quest. After three weeks, I had a prototype. Now, after four years of research and developement, I'm able to achieve predictable results obtaining wonderful thick-walled kiln formed cylinders designed to pick up warm (from the kiln) on a collared blowpipe and brought to the glory hole then blown into a vessel. I'm finally blowing glass in my fusing studio! No need for a crucible furnace, just a kiln and a glory hole. The 'fix it' experience gained from working at the hot shop enabled me to make or alter equipment at a price and pace I could afford. It's working out, and I'm doing it my way!

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 August 2010 )
 
Saving a Blacksmith Shop PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hallmark Art Glass   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009

What we had to work with
 

Back in 1990, when we purchased the old blacksmith shop in Kasota, we made a massive effort to keep the building from collapsing on itself. We had to deal with rotted studs, crumbling brick, broken windows and bulging walls... not to mention more than 100 years of dirt and soot. When we look back on the project, we are still amazed at how we pulled it off despite having no apparent experience. It was pure will, determination and hard work that got the job done.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 September 2013 )
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Old Blacksmith Shop Photos PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hallmark Art Glass   
Saturday, 22 September 2007

 

We've just come across old photos of the studio, which was once the Blacksmith & Shoeing Shop in Kasota...

 

The Blacksmith Shop was first built in 1871, but burned to the ground in 1884. The shop was then rebuilt and bricked inside to protect it from future fires, and was in operation till sometime in the 1920's. The building is one of the only of it's kind left in the state of Minnesota. Mark and Leslie purchased the building in 1990 and put a great effort into restoring the deteriorating structure while trying to keep it as original as possible. We're not sure when these pictures   were taken, but we believe the one to be from the late 1800's.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 September 2013 )
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