Greetings from Valetta, Malta!

Today was yet another epic adventure for us glassblowers on the Celebrity Solstice. We had a marvelous time visiting three local production glassblowing studios in this historic city.  It is always interesting to check out different hot-shops to see what equipment and glass is being used, the techniques that are being demonstrated, and to talk shop with the glassblowers. Being able to do all this in another country definitely amps up my curiosity and excitement to a whole new level.

Ryan Doolitle glassblowing

Blowing glass at the Valetta shop

My favorite stop by far on this grand adventure was the Valetta Glassblowing shop. The glassblowers were total characters as they quickly moved around each other sculpting little kitties and swans while nonchalantly smoking cigarettes and joking with each other. When I told them I was a glassblower on a cruise ship I don’t know if I confused them more because I claimed to be blowing glass on a giant ship or if it was the fact that I’m a lady glassblower. Regardless of the reason, they were quick to open the floor to me so that I could prove myself.

Glassblowers at the Valetta shop

The Valetta Glassblowing shop

We always tell our audience that going into a new hotshop to blow glass is like cooking in another person’s kitchen. All the basic equipment is there so once you get acclimated to the layout and the temperature of the furnaces it’s a piece of cake to create what you’re used to making.  Weeeellll, upon reflection I would now say that I have been spoiled because I’m accustomed to blowing glass with very well made and maintained equipment and it was quite an eye opener to work in this unique Maltese hotshop. Their oil burning gathering furnace was open on both sides so that the glass could be gathered out of one side and the other could be used to reheat the pieces to be finished.

I was hazed a little bit with the old warm punti on the back of your leg manuver and I believe I passed because instead of flinching or exclaiming I just moved my leg to the side. I also got to compare arm burn scars with one of the workers and I got a nod from him because mine was larger (though I’m not sure this is something to brag about). Overall it was an amazing experience and even though our cultures and mother tongues were completely different, the glassblowing language that we shared proved more than adequate to understand each other.

Ryan Doolittle

In the hot shop

Until next time,

Ryan

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