The Ebb and Flow of Glass Blowing: The Glass Forge in Grants Pass
“Glass seems to have its ebb and flow,” says Lee Wassink. Looking at any one of his glass blowing creations, it’s easy to understand what he’s saying. Vibrant colors containing mesmerizing patterns in a glass blown product is an ebb and flow entirely of its own.
Wassink is founder of the Glass Forge in Grants Pass along with fellow glass blower Nathan Sheafor. “I first got exposed to glass at a college in Iowa on a whim,” Wassink says. “I took a class that happened to be offered and loved it from then on.” After college he worked in a studio in San Francisco for four years before heading up to Grants Pass.
“To create an object, the gaffer [glass blower] must gather a small amount of molten glass to begin the process,” he explains how glass blowing works “The gather is taken to a bench and rotated in a wooden cup to chill and obtain a round shape. After this, colors may be added and patterns developed before more glass is gathered to obtain the amount of glass needed to accomplish any given piece. Once this has been achieved the gaffer will slightly chill and start the first bubble in the gather. As this bubble inflates, the molten mass is hand shaped and reheated many times in a glory hole.”
After that several objects are used to mold the glass, like blocks or paddles. It’s during this process designs are woven into it. He adds, “One of the hardest parts is putting in the practice involved with getting better, like any skill you would want to hone. Except, many times, the practice with glass is fun!” He says each piece can take up to two hours with the aid of an assistant. The Glass Forge has five workers including Wassink, who contribute to the gallery.
“[Glass blowing] gained a lot of popularity in the late seventies and eighties, but then as more people got involved it hit a peak,” he says. “Now there seems to be a popularity coming back, but not in the collecting like it was before but more for the experience it can provide for the average person that may have not tried it. Now anyone can come into our studio and give it a try.”
The Glass Forge
8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday
10 am – 4 pm, Saturday
501 SW G St, Grants Pass