Working Glass at the Karg Glass Works, Wichita, Kansas
Last April we traveled to Kansas, and while there our friends Bob and Nancy took us to the Karg Glass Works, near Wichita. There we learned that you could take a class on glass blowing and participate in the process of making a glass ornament and a heart shaped paperweight.
We thought it would be fun to investigate a different art medium and so when we returned this fall, we signed up for the class. Nancy and her cousins husband Mark, (a retired custom jewelry designer), also signed up for the classes, and we met at the glass works.
We were all nervous about working near one-thousand-degree molten glass, but we shouldn’t have as our glass master, NIc Dickin, warned us about the different parts of the foundry and wisely did not trust us near the molten glass blobs, (I was nervous about getting burned). Our participation was to pick the colors, watch the process, and blow through a tube to expand the material while it was being shaped.
We had already picked the colors and Nic showed us the cold glass fragments that would be melted into the molten material. Collecting a blob of molten glass, he spun it into a cylindrical shape before rolling it on a steel table with the glass colors. He then reheated the glass, spun it again and inserted it into a mold which gave the preform glass its ridges.
Next, he had us move to a spot where we would blow into the tube, (blow don’t inhale), as he manipulated it into the desired form, (either a heart or an ornament).
Adding a stem, the final step was to place the work into an annealing oven where it would cool to room temperature, about five days of slowly dropping temperatures. These finished pieces were not like the small works you see made at fairs.
The first series of images were taken while making an ornament and the second series were of making the heart shapes paperweight. This first image is of some of our glass master’s work. His work and others from around the country were for sale in the large gallery.
The last two images are of my finished pieces, (we also got a glass disc made from excess glass and of course I had to wire wrap it into a piece of jewelry!
Watching the whole process mad us all appreciate the work of glass masters, and our teacher Nic Dickin, did a great job of explaining everything he was doing. Now if we can only get the finished unbroken art glass back to Wyoming!
We all enjoyed the class.
It would be fun to work molten glass but I simply don’t have the time as our time is consumed by our lapidary and jewelry making, (we take the rough rock, cut it, polish it on diamond grinding six wheels, and finally wire wrap it with sterling silver or 14k gold filled wire, being retired we are so busy that we have little time to rest.) Clear skies