The Gift of Breath
Art / There’s something so incredibly mesmerizing about the glassblowing process. The slow turning of the glass over heat as air steadily fills the molten lump and transforms it into a piece of art is a captivating, almost therapeutic, experience to witness, but there aren’t very many well-known glass artists here on Oahu.
Enter Geoff Lee, who opened Island Glassworks back in 2005 as the only glass studio in Honolulu available for public use. And while there is a small group of individuals who regularly use the studio for their work, glassblowing can be a very particular craft not understood or studied by many.
“There are a number of kids from Punahou and UH who know how to blow glass, [but it’s difficult] to make it as a glass artist,” Lee says. So instead of just selling his work and functioning as a studio, Island Glassworks offers workshops for people who want to try their hand, and their lungs, at creating their own glass pieces.
As the holiday season approaches, a great gift idea can be found in Lee’s Christmas ornament workshops, in which everyone ages six and up has the opportunity to design and blow their own decorations.
“Specifically the ornament class is very hands-off, meant as an introduction to the material,” Lee says. First, students (up to 10 per class) choose a variety of colors they would like to combine in their ornament. “What’s interesting about glass is that it doesn’t mix [colors], no matter how much you heat it up or twist it.” Next, students choose a design, whether, twisted, spotted or striped, and the glassblowers begin to apply the color and manipulate the shape. “You use your own air to inflate it,” Lee says, by using a long tube at a safe distance from the heat. “[You’re] trapping your breath inside the ornament.” Blown ornaments are left to cool and can be picked up the next day, through Dec. 23.