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Playing with Fire

Molten matters at Diablo Glass School


In the slide show above, Sean Clarke, owner of Diablo Glass School, and Kaylee Dombrowski (CFA’11) talk about working with glass.

Sean Clarke steps to a furnace cranked up to 2100 degrees. He dips a metal rod into a shimmering orange surface and lets molten glass drip to the floor in spirals and curlicues.

“See how it looks like honey?” asks Clarke, owner of Diablo Glass School in Roxbury, as he twists the rod, called a blowpipe, in the furnace. “If you don’t keep moving and shaping it at this stage, it just drips right off.”

A furnace away, two Boston University students fitted with safety goggles are molding and shaping their work, preparing for a final critique. They’re learning the art of glass making through the College of Fine Arts course Glassblowing, held at Diablo.

“We don’t have our own glass studio at CFA,” says Jaki Doyka (CFA’11), who is working with Andrew Collins (CAS’10) to make about 40 glass balls for a larger piece. “This has been a great experience, and not really what I expected; the nature of this art is that it’s complex, art and science coming together.”

The class, in its third semester, is “another tool, another technique to learn for visual arts,” says Lynne Allen, director of CFA’s school of visual arts. The class can be an introduction to the Venice study-abroad program, she says, where students can work on the island of Murano, famous for its glass artisans.

Hobbyists to master glasscutters, elementary students to college art majors create art using Diablo’s furnaces and glass shops — glassblowing in the hot shop, fusing glass in the flat shop, creating bead work in the flame shop, and cutting glass in the cold shop.

“Diablo really emphasizes creativity over learning technique,” says Kaylee Dombrowski (CFA’11). “It kind of threw us, since we spend a lot of time in visual arts learning about structure in our classes. But it ended up being a lot of fun.”

Diablo holds introductory workshops in glassblowing and bead making for $75 to $95 on the last Friday of every month through the summer. Wine tasting and goblet making demonstrations are offered on the last Saturday of each month with a fee of $35. Reservations are required, as space is limited. The school also offers classes for the community. For more information, call 617-442-7444.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.


3 Comments on Playing with Fire

  • Ron L'Herault on 05.14.2009 at 10:28 am


    I’m a 30 yr+ BU employee and my daughter, a BU Alum (’08) works at Diablo Glass School. I learned from her what a great resource Diablo is. I urge anyone with even a bit of curiosity about glass art to seek them out.

  • Glass Sydney on 05.15.2009 at 4:55 pm

    The school of glass

    Great insight into an art which requires patients and skill. It’s good to see this old art has not died and will continue into the future.

  • Uncle Eric on 05.16.2009 at 12:08 am

    Glass Blowing

    Neat! It looks like so much fun.

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