It took almost three years, but I finally made good on a Christmas present way overdue; a glass blowing workshop with my 25-year-old son Joshua.
A few years ago, I had come across a local glass blowing artisan, Peter Ridabock, who offered various workshops to eager students interested in learning how to mold glass into unique and creative designs. Making good on my Christmas promise, we finally found a Saturday that fit our schedules and reserved our spots for a glass heart paperweight workshop at Ridabock Glass Studio and Art Gallery, in East Kingston, NH.
Along with four other students, we listened, we watched, and we took part in the entire process of making our own glass heart paperweights.
The oven, burning at a whopping 2100 degrees, was formidable, but with guidance we approached, gathered the molten glass on the end of a rod, rolled it on a metal table to give it form, and then watched as the master artisan added the glass colors to the molten glob. Multiple visits to the furnace were required to keep the glass from hardening in between steps.
Even though it was a hands-on workshop, some of the techniques required the master’s professional hand to assure safety and the desired result. At the work bench, Peter used a water-soaked fruitwood ladle to shape the glass, and then a hand-held paper product to hone it further.
We used metal tweezers and a metal knife to form the glass into a heart shape.
Peter then took the heart, once it had cooled slightly, to a table where he made small cuts at the base, and then tapped the rod to release it. From there, it would cool in a 950-degree kiln, ready for pick up the next day.
Just witnessing the artist at work was captivating; being a part of the process left us wanting more.
Of course, the time was well spent not only because we walked away with heart paperweights and a huge sense of accomplishment, but because it was valuable time that my son and I spent together. Moments like that can be hard to come by the older, we/they get.
When your kids are young, you spend so much time with them; you’re in the business of teaching, encouraging, watching, and supporting, but when they grow up that time is scarce and you have to grab moments that you still can share; the moments that build stronger relationships, tighter bonds, and make lasting memories.
For me, spending 20 minutes in the car on our way to the class, two hours in the class, and another 20 minutes in the car on our way home with my son was irreplaceable. It was time where discussions were organically grown, where sharing a new experience introduced feelings of vulnerability, and then as quickly, feelings of accomplishment and self-satisfaction.
It was a gift for me to take part in the experience with Josh; it was interesting, bonding, and simply, so much fun. Can’t wait for our next adventure!