Glassblowing on Campus

While the new CoorsTek building on campus is quite stunning and primarily sheathed in glass, there is also new glass elsewhere on campus; the new glassblowing shop in Hill Hall opened this past June. To learn more about this new shop on campus, The Oredigger interviewed Materials Science graduate student Jake Ivy, the head gaffer (glass blower) of the shop.

In his undergraduate years, Ivy learned the art of glassblowing after he and several friends signed up for a glassblowing course that was open to campus for a creative outlet and way to blow off steam. This was the beginning of Ivy training to become a gaffer, and this experience is what prompted the MME department to contact him when they wanted to start up a glass shop.

Ivy made recommendations to the department on what equipment was necessary for a budding glass shop, and is now training a group of graduate and undergraduate students to be glassblowers. As these gaffers-in-training gain experience and practice they will become teachers and demonstrators as the glass shop opens its doors to the wider campus community.

The new glass shop is melding with the existing foundry area to create a combined “hot shop”. This hot shop provides Mines students with a unique opportunity to work hands-on with materials, as well as the ability to apply what they have learned in class. The glass shop is still in the developmental stages of training primary users; nevertheless, there are big goals for this creative space. In the coming year, the glass shop has two main goals: begin Soda-lime Sundays (a play on Soda-lime Silica, the type of glass used) and a class open to all Mines students.

Hopefully starting this spring, Soda-lime Sundays will be a glass compliment to Free Pour Friday, where students will be able to come to the shop and work hands on with glass.

The mission of the Mines glass shop is to inspire the community and students to take and apply science-based knowledge practically and encourage creativity. For Ivy, the glass shop is important because it “is a great tool to help people on campus and in the community see applications of material science, specifically ceramic engineering.” His hope for the shop is that it “will interest people in materials and draw them into MME with a focus in ceramic studies.

Working with glass is also a great creative outlet, and an opportunity to make things with your hands that you can take home. Plus, everyone likes playing with fire in one way or another.”

The glass shop has already begun interacting with the Mines community. So far, several guest artists, personal contacts of Ivy’s, have visited the shop to demonstrate and help train the current group of future gaffers. The glass shop was a tour group destination during the department tours that CSMMAC (Colorado School of Mines Material Advantage Chapter) led for the Discover Mines event to showcase students actively applying what they have learned in class.

There are also plans in the works to offer further demonstrations for CSMMAC, Keramos (The American Ceramic Society), and other MME department tours. Remember to keep an eye out in the Daily Blast for demonstrations and more information about upcoming Soda-lime Sundays.

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