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After my last post, many of you expressed that you’ve never heard of Corning. That’s not really a huge surprise; after all, it’s a big world and Corning is a relatively small town in Central New York. But there is one community in which Corning is mentioned with a knowing nod, in which Corning is the destination, in which a visit there is almost a pilgrimage. And that community is one of glass artists and enthusiasts.

Their mecca? The .

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass doesn’t just display art, it also helps others create it. Glass artists from around the world can come take advantage of grants and fellowships and access some of the best facilities in the world, and creative hopefuls can come try the craft in workshops and classes at all levels from beginner to advanced.

Glass Blowing Class Corning

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

I’ve been itching to try glassblowing for years. My hometown of Albany doesn’t have any glassblowing facilities, though I did take classes in stained glass and jewelry welding while I was in high school, so I had  experience in somewhat related studio arts. When I moved to Brooklyn I longingly checked out the offerings at , but they didn’t fit into my tight college budget or schedule. So I shelved it, knowing someday the right opportunity would come along.

And it did! When the Corning Museum of Glass ed me asking if I wanted to give glassblowing a try, I hoped to hop right in with a . Unfortunately we couldn’t make the scheduling work — they’re only offered a few times a year — and so we settled on a special one day session instead.

New York Glassblowing Class

New York Glassblowing Class

Big sister Margaret and I jumped right in. Within moments of meeting our bubbly instructor and donning proper eyewear, we were working on one of the fundamentals of glass blowing — gathering, which involves sticking an iron into a furnace of liquid glass and scooping up what you need to work with. (Due to the hands-on nature of this workshop I wasn’t taking many notes, so feel free to correct my terminology in the comments if you’re in the know!)

I can’t recall the exact temperature of the furnace, but I’d estimate it was more or less around the temperature of the surface of the sun. I pride myself on being functional in high heat — I lived in Thailand for a year without air conditioning, after all — but by the end of the day I reckoned that furnace would be the biggest roadblock between me and my future rockstar career in glass arts.

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

New York Glassblowing Class

Glass Blowing Class Corning

Our first project was to create a glass flower, and the next step after gathering was to add some color. This would seem like the easiest step — just dab in the color seeds of your choice — but we hemmed and hawed over color combinations and managed to drag it out pretty impressively.

Next, we sat down to shape the flower through various meticulous and fast-moving steps — you have to work quickly before the glass gets too cool and hardens — and donned yet another fabulous fashion statement, the arm band.

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

Glass Blowing Class Corning

The next step was my favorite. Using pliers and pinchers, we grabbed the glass and molded it to our will, until it finally fought back and settled into its final resting shape.

Glass Blowing Class Corning

New York Glassblowing Class

New York Glassblowing Class

We were so excited by the final results. We made that!

New York Glassblowing Class

Glass Blowing Class Corning

But the fun wasn’t over yet. We still had bird’s nest bowls to make. This is where the actual blowing part of glassblowing came in.

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

New York Glassblowing Class

While our instructor was definitely hands on — both necessary and appreciated — I was amazed at how much we were doing ourselves. In between bursts of intense concentration, we chatted about what it’s like to be a professional glass blower, and teach helpless fools such as ourselves.

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

New York Glassblowing Class

Glass Blowing Class Corning

Glass Blowing Class Corning

Spoiler alert: we had so much fun. Every time I go to a conference or travel show, travel experts are talking about how popular experiential and education travel has become. People want to do and they want to learn. Never have I felt that so strongly as I did in the Corning workshops!

CMOG Make Your Own Glass

Clearly, The Corning Museum of Glass is more than just the world’s largest glass museum. It’s also a place where artists come to create, and others come to watch them at work. With live demos throughout the museum and Create Your Own Glass workshops available, CMOG is as much about doing as it is about seeing.

The museum is huge — mind-mindbogglingly huge — huge enough that tickets are actually valid for two days. Now, granted, I’m a self-confessed art addict with a design degree, but within moments of stepping into the galleries I could see one day just wasn’t enough.

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass

The galleries cover over 3,500 years of glass that also trace the history of civilization. While it’s amazing strolling through the rooms and appreciating the progression over time, I loved no area more than Contemporary Art + Design Wing, the museum’s newest addition.

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass

The piece below was my favorite. Our lovely host Kim told me I wasn’t alone.

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass

Though far too brief — our fault for not allotting more time! — I loved our time in the galleries. Visiting them after a morning of learning how intricate and complicated even the simplest steps in the most basic glass pieces was left us with a new appreciation for the complicated masterpieces we found within the museums.

I’m more determined than ever to return someday for a full weekend workshop or some other fantastic art program. Glass blowing blew my mind! , I’ll be back…

Have you tried glassblowing or taken another art class in your travels?
Let me know in the comments!

Many thanks to Corning Museum of Glass for hosting me. As always, you get my honest thoughts and opinions regardless of who is footing the bill. And big hugs and kisses to my big sis Margaret for being my travel buddy!

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52 Comments...
  • Elizabeth
    September 10 2015

    Wow, what an experience! I am even more interested in giving glass blowing a try now. Your creations look amazing!

    And experiential/education travel is something I want to take more advantage of when I take international trips. I do a lot of it at home but as soon as I leave my area, I want to go all out and sometimes forget about these cool experiences that I should research as well.
    Elizabeth recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I’ve been trying to incorporate more art and workshops into my travels lately. This was a big step! Hope to make it a dedicated trip next time!

  • Gail at Large
    September 10 2015

    I *loved* Corning Museum of Glass! I was there more than 10 years ago, though, so I’m sure there is much more to love now.

    In fact, my late husband and I flew from northeast PA to Corning in our little vintage airplane specifically to visit that museum. We didn’t even see the town of Corning, we just went from airport to airport and rented a car to get from the airport to the museum.

    So worth it! Corning Museum of Glass is just one of the hidden treasure museums of upstate NY, there’s also the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport for the aviation geeks like me:

    I actually ended up there because my car broke down in nearby Bath, but it turned out to be my good fortune because I spent all day at the museum while my car was getting fixed (the museum staff picked me up in Bath and dropped me off!).

    I have a lot of good memories of upstate New York, as you can see 🙂
    Gail at Large recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      They are adding to it all the time — I’m sure you’d be amazed at all that is new since your last visit 🙂 Sounds like it would be great fun to fly there. What an amazing trip. Did you read my post about Keuka Lake? I really enjoyed Hammondsport.

      • Gail at Large
        September 11 2015

        I checked out the Keuka Lake post before I wrote the comment, in case you’d already written about the Curtiss Museum. I feel like I know upstate NY better than Ontario, where I lived for 7+ years, because of all the road trips I’d done through there. I even couchsurfed in Syracuse one New Year’s because I always just passed through on these road trips, and I wanted to get to know it better. That NYE was full of fun randomness, everyone was super-super friendly.

        Another area of upstate NY I love is the Hudson Valley and Dutchess County. I have some friends who live in Troy so my trips have usually involved drives between there, Dutchess County, and NYC. Rhinebeck, where I fly in a biplane (at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome) is 75 miles north of NYC but a world apart.
        Gail at Large recently posted..

        • Gail at Large
          September 11 2015

          Oops, I meant 100 miles between Rhinebeck and NYC.
          Gail at Large recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          September 12 2015

          I’m from Albany, so I know all about Troy 🙂 I love it and it’s amazing to watch how it’s changed over the years!

  • Meihoukai
    September 10 2015

    Wow, this is incredible! I recently visited Biot, France, which is known for the glass blowing too. I didn’t get to do anything this incredible though or see everything so up close. This seems like a great experience!
    Meihoukai recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I’ve never heard of Biot. Sounds lovely!

  • LC
    September 10 2015

    What a satisfying experience! Your creations are gorgeous.
    LC recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thanks LC! I was so excited when they shipped the box and I opened it at home 🙂

  • Katie
    September 10 2015

    I’d never heard of this place before, but will DEFINITELY be visiting next time I’m in New York. I’ve wanted to try glass blowing since high school, but the right opportunity has never come along. Love this post!!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I know how you feel. We should try to get a bunch of bloggers to go to one of the weekend workshops!

      • Katie
        September 10 2015

        I adore that idea. Yes!
        Katie recently posted..

      • Kim
        September 18 2015

        Hi Meihoukai and Katie! That sounds like a fantastic idea!!! We here at the Museum would LOVE to host that. We’d have all kinds of fun 🙂

  • Jessica
    September 10 2015

    That looks like SO MUCH fun! I would love to spend an afternoon blowing glass, there are so many options of decorative pieces you can make. The museum looks like it holds a lot of beautiful pieces too. If I’m ever in Corning I’ll have to make sure to stop in. Thanks for the post!
    Jessica recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      It’s worth making a destination out of, Jessica. Corning is such a cute town to be based in!

  • Julie @ A Life Exotic
    September 10 2015

    So cool! I went to college just south of Rochester and made a handful of friends there who grew up in Corning, so I’ve heard lots about this museum. I never ended up getting there myself, though, but seeing photos of these workshops might be enough impetus to get back there sometime! I saw a glass blowing/sculpting demonstration at a Chihuly exhibit once (AMAZING), but getting to try it out yourself looks like even more fun!
    Julie @ A Life Exotic recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Ah, that sounds fantastic. I love Chihuly — need to get to Seattle!

  • Chantae
    September 10 2015

    This sounds SO fun! I would love to make one of the flowers especially 🙂 What a cool museum to go to.
    Chantae recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      It was such a surreal feeling to grab glass with pliers and make it move!

  • Michelle
    September 11 2015

    Mind blowing stuff indeed (I see what you did there… haha) but seriously, gorgeous pictures! It looks really fun. I made some pottery once at the Wedgwood Museum in the UK (also in a small town) but glass looks wayyy more complicated! Would definitely love to try that sometime 🙂
    Michelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      I used to love working with pottery. I’d love to take more classes again someday!

  • Dominique
    September 11 2015

    Glass blowing looks awesome! It’s daunting to see how many exciting places there are in the world and how little time each of us has to visit everything. I love travel blogs because when you combine all of them they give insights into so many different places, in short, keep up the good work 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      Thank you Dominique! I love blogging and reading blogs for the same reasons.

  • Meagan
    September 11 2015

    I recently visited Murano, Italy and peeked into a glass workshop while I was there. As a fellow art-degree-holder, it made me want to learn so badly . . . glassblowing is such a beautiful and mesmerizing craft. The workshop in Corning sounds like an amazing experience–thanks for sharing!

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      Murano will be a must-do for me when I finally make it to Italy. It sounds amazing!

  • Love this post Meihoukai! Tom and I also had always wanted to try glassblowing and took a private class a few years ago in San Diego. I was sort of hoping it wasn’t going to live up to my expectations since it is not a very “full-time-traveler-friendly” hobby. We LOVED it and have been dying to dive more fully into it ever since! We have had hazy plans of one day attending the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle for a summer-long program ever since 🙂
    Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      That sounds amazing! I agree, it would almost be easier to have one thing to tick off the list instead of being more obsessed with 😀 But alas, glassworks is kind of addicting!

  • Sri & Kian Radojewski
    September 11 2015

    Woooweeeee awesome experience!! Would love to give it a try, must be so much fun 😀
    Thank you for sharing, awesome pictures!

    Cheers,
    Sri & Kian

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      You’re so welcome. Thanks for reading!

  • Marni
    September 11 2015

    On a trip to Cape Cod, we saw a glass blowing demonstration at the Sandwich Glass Museum. We didn’t get to try it at that time, but I definitely wanted to! It’s so fascinating and seems like so much fun. One of these days I’ll get to try it. The museum itself seems incredible, too!

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      It really is. By the way, I totally love the name of the Sandwich Glass Museum, ha.

      • Marni
        September 12 2015

        It is absolutely as cute as it sounds, I promise!

  • Sofie
    September 11 2015

    In June I traveled in the Black Forest in Germany and visited a glass blowing factory there. It was easily the best part of my trip. The manager explained everything very well and I got to blow my own vase! I was super fascinated by everything I saw their and especially the artistry of the men I saw at work there. You could see they really loved their jobs.

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      Ahhhh that sounds amazing Sofie! What a cool souvenir to take home from your trip 🙂 Everyone in Corning seemed to happy and passionate as well. I love seeing people make a living off their craft.

  • Luda
    September 12 2015

    Wow, glass blowing looks so much fun! I love the different shapes– it reminds me a little of Dale Chihuly and his amazing works 🙂
    Luda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      They had a few of his pieces at the museum. He’s a legend!

  • Mary B
    September 12 2015

    I totally want to take a glass blowing class now! If you haven’t been to the Chihuly Museum and Sculpture Garden in Seattle, you must go see it! It takes glass to a whole new level. It’s pretty incredible.
    Mary B recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 12 2015

      I’ve actually never been to Seattle, Mary! It’s pretty high on my list though… I’m thinking next summer I need to make it happen!

  • Kerjan
    September 12 2015

    So awesome!! definitely want to try glass blowing now 🙂 you make it look so much fun! xx
    Kerjan recently posted..

  • Sky
    September 13 2015

    Corning is only 2ish hours from my house so I’ve heard plenty of people talk about going and how much they LOVE the museum but I never really thought about going myself. Now I’m kind of curious to see how big of a disaster me attempting to make something would be 😉
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      I would be here all the time if this was only two hours from my place! Definitely check it out Sky!

  • becky hutner
    September 13 2015

    Loved this!! As I’ve mentioned before on here, my family roots are in glassblowing & I’m actually toying with the idea of a genealogy trip to Lithuania in the near future to, if not find our exact factory (we’re Jews so fat chance of that!), at least connect with that legacy in a meaningful way.

    PS — your bird’s nest bowls look like an old bong of mine. Just sayin…
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      I hope you do do that trip, as I’d LOVE to read about it! PS: Checked out The Springs on your recommendation, loved it! You’re the best!

  • Kim
    September 18 2015

    Thanks so much for visiting, Meihoukai! It was so much fun to have you and your sister here to experiment with glassmaking. I’d love to have you come back for a weekend class soon! So glad you enjoyed your time in the Studio, and exploring the galleries. I grew up around this museum–almost my entire family has worked here at one time or another, and it really is one of the most amazing, inspiring places to be. 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      So fantastic to meet you Kim! Your passion for the museum was infectious and you gave such a warm welcome to Corning. Hope to see you there again soon!

  • Izy Berry
    September 21 2015

    incredible experience alex !!! it looks like is a hard work
    Izy Berry recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      It is! I have more respect than ever for all the amazing glass artists out there.

  • Leigh
    October 6 2015

    What a fun way to spend a day! We did glassblowing for a corporate team outing one year – while it was really interesting, we each made a paperweight, so there wasn’t really any “blowing” involved. Still, a really cool hobby.
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 8 2015

      That sounds like an amazing corporate outing! You make the office life sound pretty sweet 🙂