Dream Drives: Molten Glass at East Falls Glassworks

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tucked away in Philadelphia is a studio that is a blast to visit: East Falls Glassworks.

This open artists’ studio uses fire (safely, of course) to create art. Meisha Johnson found a good life lesson there: it’s okay to break some stuff.

Four years ago, Sean Bradley was a mechanic when he gave glassworking a whirl. He was hooked. Now he manages East Falls Glassworks. He encourages the public to come watch and learn. You could call it public access for glass.

Meisha Johnson watched Sean work on an example of glassblowing. Within a few minutes, Sean had blown a lump of molten glass into a bubble, carved off the excess, and shaped the rest into a vase, all without missing a beat during his interview.

“You are making it look so easy, but it’s going from one shape to to the next shape as you’re just doing it, as you talk,” Meisha said. “So casually, like vacuuming your living room!”

Some glassworking techniques date back up to 3,000 years, a combination of powerful heat and puffs of air.

“I’m sure a lot people that come in, they just want to do it for fun, try their hand at it,” Meisha said.

“Yes,” Sean said. “We teach classes. Once you’re good enough at it, you can rent our facility and actually just come in by yourself and make work by yourself on your own.”

Since glassworkers from around the area share this space, there’s a lot of activity. Visitors can stop by, watch artists work, and browse the beautiful finished product in the store.

While chatting with Meisha, Sean’s vase-in-progress fell to the floor and shattered. He was unperturbed.

“One of my favorite things about glass is the failure aspect,” Sean said. “When I first started glassblowing, I made a lot of what we call ‘floor models.'”

Sean said everyone he meets seems fascinated by glassworking. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever tried,” Sean said, “and even if you’re not good at it, and you don’t catch on right away, it is still a ton of fun to play with hot glass.”

East Falls Glassworks is at 3510 Scotts Lane, Philadelphia, PA, 19129. The public is welcome to visit, although managers want visitors to know that glassworking is not always in progress. They suggest calling first to make sure someone will be working at the time you would like to visit.

To find out about group classes, private events, and artist rentals, go to http://www.eastfallsglass.com/do/

 

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