Beth Hess is a regular at the D.C. GlassWorks studio in Edmonston.
The “crafter-in-chief” at Wunder Around, the College Park resident talked with the Hyattsville Wire by email about how she got started in glass.
How did you get into glassblowing?
I’ve always loved making things and experimenting with new techniques in craft. I discovered DC GlassWorks and Sculpture Studios at the Hyattsville Arts Festival and took the Beginning Glassblowing class there in 2009. When we added color to glass, I was hooked.
What is the hardest part to learn for a beginner?
Glassblowing has a pretty steep learning curve—practice time is key to getting comfortable with it. When you first gather glass from a 2,000-degree furnace, it kind of feels like you’re looking into the sun—so getting comfortable with the heat is one factor. Once you’ve gathered glass from the furnace on to the end of a metal rod or blowpipe, you need to constantly keep it turning as you manipulate it or just move from place to place within your work area—so there is a lot to be thinking about and to be aware of at the same time. Once you start to get comfortable with the tools and movement of the glass, you can start focusing more on technique, color and shape.
Is there anything in glassblowing you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to?
Tons! There are always new color applications or variations to experiment with, and new forms and techniques to try. The endless ways to explore and experiment with glass are a big part of what keeps me coming back. I love the challenge of trying to make a new shape, create a different color effect, add texture to a piece or some of each.
How many people are regulars at the Edmonston studio?
Fifteen artists have private studio space at DC GlassWorks and an additional 10 to 15 regularly work in the studio. On any given day, you might also have students or area artists drop in to use the glass cold working equipment or rent time in the hot glass or metal working studios.
How did you end up living in the area?
I’ve lived in the region since 2000 and moved to College Park with my husband in 2006. We were attracted by the proximity of Metro access to downtown D.C. and highways north, the variety of amenities available since this is a college town, and amount of green space just outside of town thanks to the Department of Agriculture farms and Patuxent Research Refuge. We still appreciate those and I also love spotting all the new murals as you drive down Route 1, being able to pick up a gift at Franklin’s, repurpose supplies from Community Forklift, stop in for a show at the artdc Gallery and bicycle to the farmer’s market in warmer months.