Ciccotti Art Glass and Our Anniversary!

Hey all! This is the first post in a new monthly series on this blog spotlighting (mostly) local places that I think are neat, awesome and more! This will give you a look into a great local place, an overview of my experience, and general estimated costs (if there are any). While I realize that most people will not be local to central Iowa, I hope that maybe this will give you some ideas for new businesses and places to search out in your areas as well!

Now that the rundown of the series plan is over, I can get on to the fun stuff! 😉 The BF and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary! To celebrate, we took some time off of work, relaxed at home together and wanted to do something fun, new and memorable for our anniversary date. We decided on taking a workshop at Ciccotti Art Glass.

Ciccotti Art Glass is a glassblowing studio in Ames, IA. Along with his gift shop, Art offers workshops to learn the basics of glassblowing and helps the individual make something themselves! We decided to each make a vase, which I am really happy about. I love that we have two beautiful vases that we can display and use that are physical mementos of our first anniversary together!

Setting up the workshop was really easy! While Art does have planned workshops scheduled on the calendar on his website, he also is happy to schedule ones individually as well. I sent him an email inquiring about this and he got back to me very quickly and we set up the date, time, and went over requirements, like wearing my hair back and pants instead of shorts.

The workshop itself was so much fun! Art started out running through the basic process with both of us and explaining some terminology, just so we had a bit of an idea of what to expect before starting.

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Chalk drawing showing us how the bubble would form inside the glass and how the glass would be transferred from the blowpipe to the receiving pipe.
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Illustrating what we would be doing after the piece was on the receiving pipe.

Then we got started! I went first, which was more than a little nerve-wracking 😉 I waited while Art put the gather, or molten glass, on the end of the blowpipe and started off the bubble.

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Once that was done, he then had me start blowing the hole bigger to form the inside of the vase. While this is happening, the blowpipe was constantly needing to be turned and the glass centered on the pipe or the piece wouldn’t turn out right. I have to admit, I wasn’t very good at multitasking! Art was very patient with me and the need to remind me multiple times to keep turning the pipe 🙂

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This process is also interspersed with breaks from the blowing process to put the glass back into the furnace to keep it hot enough to work with. After each time, or at least most times, Art would then roll the piece on a nearby table before coming back over to where I was.

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Then we moved on to the second main part of creating the vase. Art helped me to form the neck and base and then he transferred the glass from the blowpipe to the receiving pipe, which allowed us to work the inside and shape the opening of the vase.

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Me waiting with the jacks to flatten the bottom of the vase while Art was reheating it
Me waiting with the jacks to flatten the bottom of the vase while Art was reheating it

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Widening the opening and forming the inside of the vase was pretty difficult! At times throughout the process Art would take over and show me what to do and how to change anything I was doing incorrectly. I still had a pretty hard time remembering to continue turning the pipe while using the jacks inside the opening and making sure the piece fell to center before doing anything! The amount of practice this must take to do this well is amazing!

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Art finished the process while we watched, swinging the receiving pipe back and forth some, which created some pretty neat waves in the vase. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of that part of the process

The glassblowing process is so complicated, and yet Art was able to take me, a complete novice, and help me learn the basics and make a beautiful vase in under an hour! Pretty impressive! It was so much fun!

He then repeated the whole process with the BF, who seemed to have a bit easier time with the blowing process than I did.

I love how both pieces turned out and they are such beautiful keepsakes from our first anniversary!

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BF’s vase
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My vase!

DSCN0271_picmonkeyedReview of experience: This was a great experience! Both the BF and I enjoyed ourselves a lot and it is a date that we will remember for a very long time. And I really love that we have keepsakes from the date now. I could definitely see us doing this again!

Art was very helpful, informative and fun! He made learning the process and trying something new enjoyable instead of stressful.

Estimated cost: Roughly $30-55 per person, depending on what you want to make

What fun places have you been to lately? Try anything new? It’s fun to try out new places and I hope you enjoyed hearing about the new one we checked out! I hope it gave you an idea for a new place to check out yourself!

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