Tag Archives: Reading PA

Hot Glass

Yesterday, my husband and I took a drive to Reading, PA, to visit the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. We wanted to attend their Second Sunday open house. We’ve been to this art nexus before and I thought I’d mention it, in case anyone ever is in the area and wants to visit. Because it is certainly worth it.

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The center has been in existence for about ten years and is located in an enormous former factory building – the Willson Goggle Works. The company, founded in the 1870’s, existed in one form or another up until the early 2000’s. When it was closed, it was likely that the building would join many other vacant properties in Reading, a faded industrial center. But community leaders took things in a different direction. The building became a community arts center.

People come here for all kinds of events – there are classes and open houses and art shows and…I can go on, but their website tells it better than I do. Let me just say that the building now houses artist studios, a theater, a wood shop, a clay studio, several galleries, and…what I want to mention here in particular…a hot glass studio.

On Second Sunday, all the studios are open, artist and communal. Visitors can see creation in action! We decided to go to the glass studio first when a passerby mentioned that some interesting work was going on there.

When you enter the enormous room, you are struck by a wall of heat. Glassworking is HOT. The studio has built-in bleachers at one end, so visitors can watch the action. The artists just go about their work as we watch, paying no attention to us.

I admit that I find glassworking fascinating but frightening. I knew from past visits that I would inch into the room, sit right by the door, and that would be fine for me. So that’s just what I did. My husband would have gone closer but he sat down with me, which I appreciated.

I was taken by the substantial electrical needs of the studio, as evidenced by the wiring.

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And look at these kilns and other pieces of equipment. They are formidable.

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Two men were working. One was finishing up a parrot figure (you can see it on its rod lying across the supports, with the man in the white T-shirt rolling it), and the other one was rolling a cylinder of amber-colored glass.  We watched them carefully to see what they would do next.

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Here are some more photos. Look at how casually the two move among the red-hot work areas. I was amazed that the man in the green shirt was even wearing flip-flops. All I could think of was how it might feel to have some hot glass splattered on my toes.

Joking aside, observing them at work was almost like watching a dance, the choreography determined by the needs of the glass. As we looked on, they combined their two items, parrot and cylinder – it turned out that the cylinder was to become the base for the parrot to stand on.

I don’t know what the ultimate result looked like, as we left shortly after this point, but I am sure it was something special. Glad we stopped in.

Home and Away

Yesterday we visited Reading, PA – the purpose of the trip was to drop off some artwork and clay at a shop there, Allison Clothing Company. Fate sent Allison my way and I am grateful – she is a spirit-reviver and I feel very appreciated by her. She has carried my work in her shop since she opened a year ago and her faith in my work has meant a lot!

Anyway, I digress. After we finished our work in town, we drove up to a local spot we’ve visited before – the fire observation tower on Mt. Penn. It is quite a landmark, set high above the city in a quiet park. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, clear bright skies and lots of sunshine.

We ate a little picnic lunch on the grounds and left two figurines there. We weren’t able to go up in the tower today; it wasn’t open this weekend, but we have done it before and the view is great.

And last time we were here, we left a figurine under the same tree as today. I was happy to see that she was gone.

We drove home. The trip takes about an hour and a half or so. There was quite a bit of the afternoon left, so we decided to stretch our legs and take a walk in Lorimer Park. We left this figurine there.

I’ve been wanting to put a clay lady on top of a birdhouse along the trail for some time (there are a few of these houses along the route) but I hesitated because I didn’t want to disturb any birds. But now I think it will not be a problem.

All in all, a very nice day. We covered a lot of ground and in doing so visited some important people and locations.