Playing with Glass

"My mother taught me not to play with fire and not to play with glass," my student told me as she lit up her torch to pop an old water bottle. "And here I am, playing with both!"

This was one of my graduate students at Columbia University's Teachers College during a field trip to Urban Glass, the Brooklyn studio where I work and teach courses for educators. She was exploring ways of using glassas a safe and creative material with her elementary school students.

I had brought my Art for Classroom Teachers class in for a session with the fantastic Amanda Patenaude. These students are pre and in-service teachers, and the visit was meant to introduce them to glass as something to be used playfully and creatively, another material to use to think about the world.

Class A&HA4078 exploring fusing activity at UG

Even if the goal was to give students tools to work in the their classrooms - these are not art teachers, but K-12 teachers of any other discipline who have limited artmaking experience - I wanted to also offer them a glimpse of the possibilities offered by a well-resourced glass studio.

Amanda and I taught a workshop focused on recycled glass, using some techniques that safely be used in the classroom with minimal tools and setup. We also shared other equally simple techniques that students could use on a visit to the glass studio, with its specialist equipment.

Camille Sieunarine hotpopping her bottle

The same weekend, the awesome Dorie Guthrie and I taught a 10 hr workshop for educators (which will be expanded to a full week workshop in the summer!). It was well attended by in-service and pre-service teachers with different levels of art experience. Even though glass was new to all of them, many of our students were art teachers used to finding their way around different studios. Other participants were teachers of different disciplines. One school even sent a science teacher/art teacher team - they are working in curriculum units integrating science and art, and glass if the perfect fit!

It was a fun week - here's one of the students proudly holding the brand new vases she made from old bottles...

Ama holding bottles / vases