The art of glassblowing might seem like a hipster trend, but the techniques dates as far back as the first century BC.
The process begins by using a 4- to 5-foot blowpipe on glass has been melted at temperatures that reach 2,200 F, the same temperature of lava.
Local artisan Michael White has been making lots of noise since his arrival in town. By way of Portland, Ore., he came to Savannah ready to share his craft. White learned the trade by being an apprentice for many years before he felt safe to embark on his own and establish his business.
In the glassblowing practice, he is called a lampworker. Working from a bench with a torch and using tools like tweezers and pliers, he molds glass like some mold Play-Doh.
I found his craft to be quite interactive for the client, and White can make anything out of glass. When I say anything, I mean anything. From custom-made chandeliers to wedding cake toppers, his craft proves to be both time-consuming and tedious.
White has even made jewelry that will hold your dearly departed’s ashes encased in molten glass. The jewelry made with the remains was quite beautiful and looked like a galaxy on a beautiful pendant. In another one of his designs, he exposes a diamond to high temperatures, making it pop inside the glass — just in case sporting a diamond in its polished form is so last year.
Most lampworkers use glass in the form of rods, which come in different sizes and colors. The rods are then heated, making the glass easy to manipulate. The most commonly used glass for these rods is called soda lime.
As I watched White heat up his tools and play with the fire, I also saw him drift away into a meditative, almost zen-like state. The serenity and peace was contagious as he played Bob Marley on his radio and I watched him mold the glass. I snapped way too many images because I was on a journey as he created his piece. When the torch was off and the glass piece sat to cool, I looked at him like a bright-eyed child and said, “That was easy.” He replied with an invitation for me to try it for myself.
Even bright-eyed, I knew this was not really an easy task and politely declined by offering up ideas of things for Michael to transform into art glass for me.
Adriana Iris Boatwright is a photographer and lifestyle blogger residing in Savannah. She’s in love with the oaks, the arts and the people in the city. Go to www.adrianairis.com.