By Alex Carr, Communications Manager

The Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team once again kindly extended the invitation to be a Hot Shop intern for the day to Museum staff – a unique opportunity that I did not want to miss.

I completed a half-day internship in the Hot Shop last year, but was eager to return for a full day this time around. I spend a lot of time on the studio floor taking pictures for the Museum’s social media, so I have the opportunity to watch MOG’s Hot Shop artists up close. Observing them is certainly enough to make anyone admire their skills, but assisting them as a Hot Shop intern gave me a whole new appreciation and respect for their craft, talent, and teamwork.

Shielding gaffer Gabe Feenan.

Thanks to their guidance, and teasing, I walked away at the end of the day having learned a few new things…

  1. Glass is delicate. The lightest touch of a paddle can change the shape of glass – something I did not quite grasp when first told to paddle lightly or paddle hard. I thought I needed to push the paddle as hard as I could against the glass vessel in order to create a flat base. Turns out, you don’t need to push that hard.
  2. Timing is everything. With the help of the full-time, and far more talented, Hot Shop intern, I worked with smaller pieces in the Hot Shop’s garage, transferring them from the garage to the furnace and then finally to the Visiting Artist, who picked them up to attach them to a vessel. There are many moving parts in the Hot Shop, so the timing between putting the vessel back into the glory hole and getting the pieces in the garage ready had to be just right.
  3. Drink water. I know, duh. But when the temperature rises outside (thank you unusually warm Puget Sound spring…) so does the temperature inside the Hot Shop, as if it wasn’t hot enough. I was reminded to drink plenty of water, but by 4 pm, the heat was becoming exhausting.  When people start to ask if you are okay because your face is turning the color of a tomato, that’s a good time to take a little break.
  4. Burned hair smells like corn nuts. It all happened so quickly. One minute I was standing by the bench with the Team’s gaffer, Gabe Feenan, and the next minute flames from his blow torch were going over my arm. Upon realizing I had lost some arm hair, and voicing my alarm, I was met with “doesn’t it smell like corn nuts?”
  5. Amber Cowan is great. Amber Cowan was the Visiting Artist for the week, and she was nothing but friendly and encouraging when I showed up for my day in the Hot Shop. In the back of my mind I was worried that she would be concerned about me assisting, but if she was, she didn’t show it.
My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.
My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.

Alex Carr is the Communications Manager at Museum of Glass. When she’s not circulating the Hot Shop floor trying to get the perfect Instagram shot for the Museum, you’ll find her baking at home, running at Green Lake, or exploring Washington’s wineries.


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