(Photos by Hadley Jordan)
A new student organization has turned the Studio Arts Complex into one of the hottest hangouts on campus every Tuesday night.
The UM Glass Guild is open to any student interested in the art of glass blowing. It began last November and already has 43 registered members. They get to use the art department kilns, which can reach a scorching temperature of 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Senior Samantha Smith founded the club to help students who were not able to get into one of the department’s introduction to glassblowing classes, which are capped at 10 students each. Whether in class or in the guild, glassblowers need to stay focused because they are working with molten glass, hot equipment and a roaring furnace, according to Alex Adams, who teaches glassblowing and serves as adviser to the guild.
“It really requires me to be alert,” Adams said. “In class, I usually have two groups of five working together. I have to make sure everyone is being safe and getting the right instructions. I don’t think I could do that with more than 10 students in a class.”
While no experience is necessary to join, the glass guild is looking for more people with experience in glass blowing to assist the beginners. Senior Nirmal Pathak, a biology major with a double minor in chemistry and fine art, said he has been “entranced with glass blowing” since the age of 12.
“Once I found out about the guild, I did everything in my power to join,” he said.
Pathak, who plans to go on to medical school, found that glass blowing has helped him in more than an artistic way.
“It’s amazing how much I’ve noticed my dexterity and hand-eye coordination improve due to glass blowing,” he said.
Pathak said he was disappointed that there were not enough students to make an advanced glass class. But working in the guild allows him to practice with others and use teamwork, which he would have gotten from the class. Slumping refers to fusing together small pieces of glass in a kiln to create glass art. Adams said that the guild offers many benefits beyond creating works of art.
“My goal as a teacher and adviser is to get people to work as a team,” he said. “Working in a new environment where danger is involved can provide good skills for the future.”
Smith agreed that glass blowing is a group effort.
“Everyone has a role and everyone works together to create this beautiful piece of art,” she said.
IF YOU GO:
What: Glass Guild meetings
Where: Studio Arts Building, located at 1535 Levante Ave. The glass studios are behind the building at SAR100.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays
Dues are $10 per semester. For more information, visit the Glass Guild Facebook page or email Samantha Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.