2.18.2016

This really blows! FOCI, Part2, Minneapolis, MN

After getting a chance to make our own hand-blown pint glasses, and seeing all the wonderful art that the actual artist working at FOCI create, I wanted to highlight some of it here...

You can see the artists' names placed near their pieces, and I believe all of it is for sale, open to the general public at FOCI. I mean, if I was looking for a gift to really wow someone, this is the place to go.









I have very little idea how they create such beautiful works. I was "blown" away. Get it!?

And remember, FOCI is open to the public, offers classes to all, and seem to encourage inquisition and purchasing of their fine art. Go buy something truly amazing. 

2.15.2016

This really blows! FOCI, Part1, Minneapolis, MN

As someone that has always enjoyed making things with my hands, I was excited to finally get a chance to experince hand-blown glass (why not "mouth-blown"?) firsthand at an artists' community known as FOCI, in the Northeast area of Minneapolis.

Just getting into the right building (#10) was an effort and adventure all its own.





And finally, we arrived to the coolest, non-creepy, dungeon-like building I've ever been in...


It was awesome, open, and full of light. Along one wall of the basement floor, they had all the furnaces up and running, some never being turned off...






The class we'd signed up for was going to allow each of us to produce our own pint glass. However, our instructor started by showing us all the equipment and process for making a glass, well, glass. 

She was great all the way through, and after 40 minutes or so, and somewhat shockingly to us, she was done with her own glass example and told us we were ready to make our own glasses too. Are you sure, lady? We just walked in off the street. Are we ready to be near molten glass? I'm clumsy. What? We can? Ok, here we go...

The first step is "gathering" molten glass from the ever-running crucible furnace, slowly winding the 2300-degree Fahrenheit molten glass onto a pipe at least two times. It's a cross between making a caramel apple and cotton candy...but with molten glass. 

That'll get your heart racing and your forward hand feeling like it was placed under a broiler for a few seconds. Ouch. 

You then dunk this ball-on-the-end-of-a-stick of molten glass into the color(s) of your choosing...


Take this to your own working furnace, literally called a "glory hole", and melt in the color coating, perhaps even twisting and pinching it in, to mix more than one color into a nice pattern. Finally, smoothing it out into a nice shape...



Next, go back to the crucible furnace of fresh glass and coat your colors in new, clear, pristine glass. This keeps the colors from being introduced into the human body as you drink out of or eat off of any glass items. 

Then you're ready to start a bubble in the molten glass. You repeat the steps of re-heating the glass in the glory hole, then continuing the shaping steps, from solid molten metal stick to single bubble-filled hot molten glass...



Then, it's time to move the glass to the punty pipe...


This step allows you to stop blowing up the air bubble and open up the opposing end to form the mouth of the glass. 

I will say at this point, through virtually all the processes, you have to keep the molten glass rotating. In the oven. On the workbench. Walking to and from any work stations/ovens. Always rotating. Always. 

Next, open the mouth of the glass, cut the edge, and finish it off...


After the basic shape had been finalized, our instructor took over from there, taking the glass to a finishing table. She removes the finished glass from the punty pipe, smooths the bottom edges, stamps in our initials in that smooth bottom, and puts it into the annealing oven for 24 hours. 

This final series of four ovens (at lower and lower temps) allows the glass to reduce its temperature over time, rather than all at once, which would likely create cracks and allow it to break. 

We went and picked up our glasses two days later, and really liked the results...

They definetley have many unique inclusions, bubbles, and bits off odd color that only add the the first-timer experince and uniqueness of each glass. We'll take it. 
Here's my behemoth next to a standard pint glass...


Mine really could be a small vase. But no matter, it was an awesome afternoon and I'd really like to go back to do and learn more. Thanks, FOCI.  





2.04.2016

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, KS

I'm not sure there's much I can say about this metro-KC museum that hasn't already been noted, but I would say that if you find yourself with even 1-2 hours to spare in KC, this would be a good place to go. It has a very enojayble, vibrant mix of museum pieces to see and tons of interesting architectural nooks in the place. It is easily one of the better ancient and modern art museums I've been to... AND it's indoors and outdoors, which is pretty unique in my book.

Here's a selection of shots from the 2 hour visit we took...

Outdoors, heading in:

Watch for shuttlecocks everywhere - no joke
Huge grounds to hang out on, wee more art, and just enjoy all that is KC

Indoors, Main building with historic, older, and even ancient pieces:


Amen.



Care for a spot of tea?

Indoors, Brock wing with more contemporary art - can you spot the Kandinsky?






Back outdoors to enjoy the grounds a bit more (with 60deg temops that day in Jan). We loved the Glass Labyrinth on the grounds... though didn't like seeing a toddler run his head into one of the walls (ouchie, he cried... and then got right back up):












And finally, this "tree" that we couldn't figure out if they'd covered an actual tree or made an entirely fake one out of this silvery, shiny material. Whatever the case, it was a cool tree to see:


transplanted.chicagoan

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