Hot Glass Academy

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Devan Cole, owner of Hot Glass Academy, recently shared how he had come to start a company that demonstrates glass blowing. “I started the business in 2015 after spending roughly three years at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americas, and went through a post baccalaureate position. I’d already earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. And then, once I started the business, I started doing different events for corporate clients and doing live performances, live glass blowing performances, mostly in the state of Georgia, but eventually got connected with different state and county fairs across the nation.”

Cole detailed the work of Hot Glass Academy; “we primarily just do glassblowing demonstrations across the country. We get some commissions and projects. We also have an online Etsy store that we post a lot of our works that we make while we’re traveling.” Cole told how Hot Glass Academy had demonstrated glass blowing in locations as far away as the New Mexico State fair. When it came to items they sale, he listed seasonal gifts like pumpkins, mushrooms, and other ornaments as popular buys.

Cole also talked about some of the aspects of glassblowing that make it a challenging and rewarding medium. He told how glassblowing was unique in that it allowed you to imagine any type of object, but that the skills to actually create a specific piece could take a lifetime to learn. He summed up the art; “’it’s a very unique visual language.” He talked about how the skills required to bring imagination to life kept him constantly engaged: “it’s never boring, there’s always challenges.”

Cole talked about one particularly unique piece he had created; “one of my signature pieces is these cups with a grin on it, like smile on it, and somebody thought that would be cool to put one of those on a peanut just like the sculpture in Plains, and I was able to make a couple of those, and one of them went over to Miyoshi, the sister city of Plains, to the mayor there.”

He talked about how the goal of Hot Glass Academy was initially to offer classes; “so the Hot Glass Academy, when it first started, I was advertising to summer camps. And the idea was to do primarily workshop educational, but I found that we’ve been able to hit a larger public, larger general public, by doing demonstrations.” He told how they were hoping to focus more on their original aim of offering classes in the future, saying “if anybody’s wanting to take a workshop, please call us.”

Cole also gave a demonstration in his shop. He started by placing several rods in the furnace, heating them so that they could be attached to the molten glass. Once heated, he took the blow pipe, a hollow rod that allows glassblowers to create a bubble inside a piece of glass, out of the furnace with molten glass on the end. He rolled the mass of glass in colored material called fret for decoration, slowing blowing into the pipe to expand the glass like a soap bubble on a child’s wand, while rotating it to ensure it stayed symmetrical. He used a pair of pincers, called jacks, to work it into shape. A work station with two rails allowed him to roll the blow pipe back and forth to continue to ensure the growing piece kept it’s shape.

Cole then took a moistened wooden block that was hollowed out like a scoop, rolling the glass in the cavity to preserve the round shape. He then used the jacks to make a constriction at the base of the glass cylinder, explaining that it allowed them to remove the piece.

Using a torch and the furnace, Cole periodically heated and reheated the glass between working it on the rails, which kept the glass flexible and prevented it from shattering from the temperature dropping too quickly. He flattened the end of the glass bulb with a paddle, forming the base of his signature grinning mug and causing sparks to fly. Sam Haas assisted him, using a rod to add material for the grin, and also helped apply the handle.