Wednesday, May 9, 2012
On the top deck of the Celebrity Eclipse, next to a grass lawn and between the two huge smoke stacks sat a glass blower's studio. The Corning Museum of Glass partnered with the cruise line to bring this working glass blowing studio to the high seas. Several ovens were burning brightly to heat the glass on metal rods. Three glass artisans were at work creating an octopus from a child's drawing. Children on board the ship had entered a competition to see who's sketch would become a glass menagerie. Bob Swederball and Dan Alexander worked as a team while Tom narrated the process for a crowd of passengers on bleachers. Bob sat at the work bench forming the body of the creature while Dan heated some glass that would be used for tentacles.
Large air ducts blew cool air which was used to cool the glass on occasion. The molten glass glowed orange as they worked. One oven had multiple doors allowing for larger openings as the glass was formed. There was a four foot high glass wall around the working studio to make sure passengers didn't get burned and the reflections made it a challenge to sketch at times. The octopus was created in a matter of about an hour. With a gentle tap, the glass sculpture was broken free of its iron rod. Once it was finished, all the children in the bleachers filed out and the craftsmen then started to create an ornate vase by folding the glass and twisting several different colors together. The three craftsmen all came from fine arts colleges where they first started molding glass. Their fine artwork used glass in unique ways. Not a bad gig for a working artist.