urbanglass: keep warm & see amazing things

urbanglass lstudio work in progress

i guess i’m getting a little obsessed with crafts and art these days, or just envious of people with time and energy to take classes, and new york has so many amazing classes its hard to pick i guess i’ll be checking out a bunch.  so first there was printmaking, and now glass.  the urbanglass studio was founded in 1977 as the new york experimental glass work shop, and back then it was the first workshop open to artists, and it is now the largest.  before urbanglass opened, according to urbanglass’s literature, if you were interested in working with glass you had to be at school, or have access to a factory or a private studio.  urbanglass changed all that, and boy is it a cool place.

urban glass oven big

first off, it’s huge, and it’s toasty in there — nice for the wintertime — though next visit i’m bringing my sunglasses.  it’s way too bright with those fires. urbanglass offers access to a studio space which can be rented by the hour and for the glass experts there’s everything you need here to get your beauties made.  urbanglass also hosts a whole range of classes including glassblowing, hot casting (no idea what that is), stained glass, lampworking and jewelry making and others.  or private lessons if that’s what you feel like you need.  on my visit, i saw the incredible susan clark (her stuff is gorgeous) in action teaching her students some bottle technique (or that’s what it looked like to me).  while the work definitely looked scary – super hot, molten stuff that you somehow manipulate with lots of spinning, poking and handling with extra special oven mitts – the glass looks so awesome while in process and the end product is amazing.   

urban glass pot

if you’re not up for a class but just want to experience the process, urbanglass also has periodic “open houses” where various artistans get to show off.   here’s a short video of emrys berkower during his venetian glass demonstration last year.  the next open house is this sunday, november 22nd, with tours every hour between 12 and 5 p.m. be sure to call ahead or go early though as each slot can only accommodate 25 people.  and for good eating and shopping nearby, see my mini guide below.  urbanglass, 647 fulton street at rockwell place, brooklyn, new york, 718.625.3685.

note: many thanks to the staff of urbanglass including kristin and brian for helping me access the studio and gaining permission to take pictures and to susan and her students for allowing access to their class and allowing me to photograph their work.   

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