On November 8, The Studio participated in the second annual Veteran’s Glassblowing Day. Veteran’s Glassblowing Day is a national initiative that aims “to provide US veterans and those in Active Service with a free opportunity to experience glassblowing with the intentions of developing a marketable skill, building joy through artistic expression, and creating community through a yearly national event.”
The Studio was the only glass school in New York State to participate in Veteran’s Glassblowing Day, and as a result, was bustling with activity all day long as veterans and their families came from all over the state to participate. One-hour sessions were held from 10 am to 6 pm and offered veterans the opportunity to experience glassblowing firsthand.
Veterans of all ages and from many different backgrounds came, but the one thing they had in common was that, for many of them, this was their first experience making glass. I had the opportunity to meet a number of the participants.
I met Brian, a Tennessee native and Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I asked him why he signed up for Veteran’s Glassblowing Day he said “It was something I always wanted to try.” He shared with me that he has been interested in working with glass ever since seeing live glassblowing demonstrations at Dollywood as a child. Brian made a glass flower, which is one of the most hands-on glass projects, and told me he was surprised by the consistency of the hot glass.
I also met Vincent, a Navy Seabee from Utica, NY, who was also working with glass for the first time. When I asked him what made him want to sign up for glassblowing, he laughed heartily and said, “My wife signed me up!” He worked with glassblower Chris Giordano to make a bowl with an intricate pattern. As we talked, I learned that Vincent served during Desert Storm. He said when he got off the plane it was 120° in Saudi Arabia. When I asked him if the heat from our furnaces bothered him he gave me a big smile and said, “Not at all!”
My last chat of the afternoon was with Robyn, who traveled from Vestal, NY, to make a glass pumpkin. She said she was nervous that she’d chip a tooth when she had to blow into the blowpipe to create the starter bubble for her pumpkin. When I caught up with her after she finished her project she happily exclaimed, “I didn’t chip a tooth!” In fact, she was so happy with her project that when I asked her what she thought of her first glassblowing experience she said, “I think everyone should try this—it was awesome!”
I had a great time meeting and talking with everyone I met at Veteran’s Glassblowing Day. I’m always humbled when hearing stories from the men and women who serve our country and this was no exception. Hopefully, I’ll see some familiar faces at next year’s Veteran’s Glassblowing Day!