During my trip to the US, I decided to take a lampworking class and wanted to talk about it in detail. I also want to talk about the value having new experiences can have on your life.
Anyone that knows me knows that art and I don’t mix. I was always terrible at art. In school, I had very little creativity in my art classes. In university, I almost failed my Graphics class which required me to draw. So when I go ahead and say I went to what was essentially an art class, it always turns a few heads.
Lampworking is very similar to glass-blowing, but on a much smaller scale. Lampworkers will produce small pendants, beads and marbles. In the case of the class I went to, I produced my own little marble.
I first got the idea to attend a class when I was looking around in the internet for a Vortex marble for my collection. I figured it would be very valuable if I not only read about how such marbles were made, but I actually tried to make a marble myself. The marble I ended up making was not a vortex marble, but an implosion marble. But it has given me a sense of appreciation for how difficult lampworking can be.
I got in touch with the Art Glass Guild in San Diego and they directed me towards an artist, John Long. He was offering one-on-one classes in lampworking. So, I spoke to him over email a bit, asking if he would be able to teach someone with zero experience in lampworking and he said he was happy to do so.
I visited his home (he has a studio set up in his garage) after my USS Midway visit. He walked me through the basics of lampworking, including safety with the torch and general techniques like fusing and splitting glass. Then, he made a marble in front of me. Talked me through what he was doing and why. Once done, he sat me at the torch and had me make a marble of my own. He provided me with tips, advice and suggestions. He was watching me every step of the way ensuring I didn’t burn myself (according to him, I wouldn’t feel any pain because the torch would burn my nerve endings off really quickly). Here’s a photo of the finished product by yours truly:
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself as much as I did. Having such a different experience really gave me a sense of perspective on my life. There is so much to see and do and sometimes, we let opportunities fly by without taking advantage of them.
When planning for this vacation, I made a promise to myself to try something completely different. I wanted to do something out of character at least once. This could be anything from visiting a restaurant with a cuisine that I would not normally eat, or going and doing something I would not normally do. After searching so long for vortex marbles, seeing this lampworking class was perfect for me. It was a one-on-one class, which means that it wouldn’t lie outside my comfort zone of being an introvert, yet it was something that lay completely outside my interests and fields of expertise. I was basically going in blind, not knowing what to expect.
And I have no regrets. The lampworking class was probably the most memorable part of my US trip for me, because it was different. It was unexpected. The marble I made looks very average. But I made it. And I made it having zero prior knowledge of lampworking. I learnt something new that day. Scratch that. I learnt many new things that day, and I met an incredibly talented artist. In fact, I might have found another interest of mine. I am definitely interested in taking some more lampworking classes and maybe even pursuing it as a hobby in the future.