When you walk into the studio at Soulshine Arts, you get the feeling that exciting things happen there…and you’re right. Even if you’re not participating, the capricious nature of the medium makes glassblowing a dynamic art that’s fun to watch. During the creation process, the delicate glass is heated and cooled several times and blowers are constantly moving long pipes with red, glowing molten glass on the end, in and out of ovens that can reach temperatures of 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The blazing oven, or Glory Hole, makes the glass malleable enough to blow, cut, stretch and shape. Let it cool too much and it will crack, too little and it won’t hold the form you’re going for, leading one artist to remark that the job of the glassblower is to constantly save the piece from destroying itself. Although it is possible to go it alone, it’s much more productive to have an assistant or partner. Some elaborate pieces even require large teams.
The partners at Soulshine Arts, Ember Cheney and Willo Sernovitz, have over 50 years of glass blowing experience between them. All the pieces they sell in the shop or make on commissions are joint pieces. They specialize in custom lighting, chandeliers and matched sets of shades for fixtures. They’ve been commissioned to create unique lighting installations for many high end hotels and restaurants and can tailor pieces to match any aesthetic. Lighting pieces start as low as $250 but can run up to $25,000.
Although most shops do not offer classes, the partners believe that working with molten sand is a cathartic and spiritual experience. Part of Soulshine’s mission is to pass the passion of fire on to others via studio classes.
The Glass Experience is a great introduction to glassblowing that only takes a half hour and ends with your own handmade paperweight or ornament.
The Couples or Buddy Class is a more in-depth experience, where you’ll spend the first part working on your own and the second half working with your buddy. You’ll get a real feeling for the group dynamic, making it a great date night or team building activity.
Glassblowing is also a great family activity. At Soulshine they love to have kids come and watch – you can watch from the gallery any time the shop is open – but they also encourage kids as young as 6 to try their hands at making something. There’s no age requirement on the upper limit either. One Christmas, a 97-year-old man came in and made ornaments for each of his eight grandchildren.
They’ve never had an injury and can accommodate parties of up to 20 people. For more information or to book a class online, visit their website at Soulshine-Arts.com.