As a transplant to the Central New York area, visiting The Corning Museum of Glass has always been on my bucket list of things to do/places to go.
On top of loving trips to museums, my husband and I had binged seasons 1 & 2 of ‘Blown Away‘ on Netflix, which is a glass blowing competition show. We loved watching the artists’ work take shape and learning about the glass blowing process. It is so fascinating– and a show you should check out if you haven’t yet.
With our newfound obsession with the show and in learning that some of the contestants’ work was on display as an exhibit, we knew we had to experience blown glass for ourselves at Corning which is touted as having “the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass”.
Making Glass “Blown” Sculptures
After arriving at the Museum we headed straight for the hot shop to participate in a “Make Your Own Glass” experience which we had purchased tickets for in advance. They have a large range of projects, even seasonal ones, that you can choose from that are family-friendly and are accessible for everyone, even if you have absolutely no glass blowing experience-just like us! We decided to each create a glass blown sculpture.
The first step was to choose the shape and colors for our sculpture. We were then provided with safety goggles and led into the workspace. The studio staff described each step and answered questions as they handled our glass through the glassblowing process. They started with clear glass, rolled colored powder to add the desired colors and then moved the project back and forth between heating it at 2,000 degrees so it becomes malleable, adding molten glass, and rolling it and blowing it to develop its shape.
With enhanced safety protocols in place due to COVID, we unfortunately couldn’t blow into the pipes to shape our glass. However, we did use an air inflation method where we pumped pressurized air into our glass by using a pedal, which basically had the same effect. The studio staff shaped our sculptures using different tools and added a clear base to the bottom so that it could stand upright on its own.
Once the piece was finished, they placed it in the annealer so it could cool. Our projects were then shipped to us a few days later. Though if you are in the area for more than a day, you can pick up your “diy” glass the following day.
Exploring the Museum
Following our “Make Your Own Glass Experience”, we spent the next 3 1/2 hours walking through the Museum’s expansive exhibits and offerings. Although we didn’t for this trip, you could easily plan on a longer trip and stop at the museum’s cafe for lunch.
We saw sooo much glass. Can you believe the museum has over 50,000 objects on display!? We also attended live demonstrations and visited the Museum’s Gift shop, which sold glass work made by local glassmakers and even a few pieces from contestants on “Blown Away”.
There is plenty to explore at the Museum with around 8 exhibits and even interactive displays and programs for kids. Our favorites were the contemporary galleries and the “35 Centuries of Glass” galleries, which showcased glass and glass making from all around the world from antiquity to present day.
- Seeing this process first hand taught me just how much trial and error goes into working with glass. I definitely have more of an appreciation for the artistry and hard work that goes into making glass art.
- I want to work with glass more! I would love to take a glass blowing class, make stained glass, and even participate in another “Make Your Own Glass” experience at the museum.
- It was fascinating to learn how glass has been crafted and used for centuries and to witness everything from glass artifacts to modern innovations in the medium.
Have you ever visited the Corning Museum of Glass? Or another Museum dedicated to all things glass?
If not, I thoroughly recommend the experience!