Canada’s only mobile glass blowing studio has set up shop here in Kimberley, offering glass blowing workshops from October 18 to 27, 2019.
Mountain Grass Glass Gallery and Smoke Shop owner Diana Fox says she has teamed up with The Glass House Xperience to offer the workshops, as well as offer the opportunity to create a piece of memorial glass.
“The Glass House is one of the studios that we always work with. Their pieces are always available in our shop,” explained Fox. “We thought it would be great to bring them here to Kimberley and offer a unique experience for Kimberley residents to partake in. [Glass House staff] are currently working on making glass pumpkins, which will also be available in the shop for purchase.”
She adds that the workshops are almost full, but there are a few spots available. Workshops offer the chance to make a choice of pieces, including a drinking glass, paper weights or Christmas ornaments. They also offer children’s classes teaching children the creation process.
Mandy Patchin, Glass House owner and artist hails from Calgary. She says that the mobile glass blowing studio is one of a kind. They attend different events, classes, and take commissions all over western Canada.
“We’re the only studio like this,” she said. “It comes with its own challenges for sure, but I wanted to offer something different and be able to reach a wider audience.”
For example, a typical studio, she says, has special lighting that allows the artists to see how hot the glass still is. With all of the natural light shining through the truck, they have to base their work mostly on feel. Weather is also a factor. If there’s bad rain or a strong wind, they face obvious challenges.
“I like to think it makes us better artists,” Patchin said, while working on a glass pumpkin herself.
“Aside from tools, we have three main pieces of equipment,” she explained.
One of those pieces of equipment is the glass pit, which is essentially an oven that melts glass to a molten temperature. The pit is heated to 2150 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1176 degrees celsius.
When asked how long it takes to heat the oven up, Patchin responded saying they started heating it up when they arrived on Tuesday.
“It took until this morning [Thursday] for it to reach the optimal temperature,” she said.
A big focus of Glass House Xperience is making memories, says Patchin. Part of that involves preserving memories through their memorial commissions aka the Ashes in Glass program.
Larissa Manser of Glass House says that Ashes in Glass is a very rewarding program that they run.
“It’s truly a beautiful way to remember pets and loved ones,” she said, while setting up a display at Mountain Grass and Glass Gallery. “Sometimes ashes can be associated with bad or painful memories. When we take a portion of those ashes and put them in to a piece of art, it creates positive and happy memories.
“For example, if you have a pet pass away, they often put their ashes in a little cardboard box, which ends up sitting in your closet or somewhere like that. This way your pet can be remembered through art. You can look at that piece every day and smile, remembering all of the great times. It helps [people] to heal.”
She adds that people often choose favourite colours or themes for their pets and loved ones. At the Mountain Grass and Glass Gallery, many of the memorial pieces are on currently on display, including one in the shape of a cowboy hat, and one in the shape of a dog bone.
“You can choose a piece that matches the colour of your pet, or perhaps they really liked water, so we’ll use the colour blue. We’ll try our best to emulate that,” Manser said. “It’s a really rewarding experience to be able to work with people to preserve these memories in a beautiful way.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the workshops, pop by Mountain Grass Glass Gallery at 201-349 Spokane Street (located at the rear of the building, upstairs). The Glass House Experience Mobile Studio is parked directly behind the building, so feel free to stop by and check them out in action.