Glass-fusing Fun for All

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Create anything you like and turn it into glass at Brazee Street Studios with glass-blowing workshops for kids and adults!

A dad sat with his little boy on his lap, arms wrapped around his son, fingers gripping a glass stringer held above a tea light. The candle’s flame softened the glass stringer. As both father and son concentrated, the older pair of hands slowly bent the stringer. The thin glass curved with the heat and pressure. It curved, and curved, until it snapped. “Ohhh,” father and son exclaimed in disappointment. And then shrugged, and started again.

The “Oh, snap” moment happened during a family crafting class at Brazee Street Studios (4426 Brazee St.; 513-321-0206). Located in Oakley’s growing art community, Brazee features not only its growing School of Glass, but also an art gallery, over 25 studios, and a retail shop with gifts, glass, and glass craft supplies. Formerly the home of the Oakley Tool and Die Factory, Brazee’s renovated facility is leed certified and uses a rooftop of solar panels to power its kilns that reach temperatures of 1,450 degrees.

The kilns fire the glass creations of Brazee’s many patrons, including couples, friends, families, and corporate employees doing team building. In fact, while families worked on the crafts for their class, at another table a couple created coasters together, and across from them, a mother and her two teenage daughters clipped and rearranged colorful glass pieces for their artwork.

Attending a Class

The class started with rules about safety. Mandy, the instructor, made sure that everyone had on closed-toe shoes before she distributed goggles. “Oh, purple,” shouted a girl, digging her hand into a bin of goggles. “I want purple!” While the parents and children worked, Mandy monitored, provided more colors when requested, and gave plenty of praise. “I love it,” she said, when a girl showed off her valentine. “Do you totally love it?”

Nearby, fire flamed from torches as skilled artisans melted glass rods into sparkling beads. Brazee offers beadmaking classes for beginner and intermediate students, and rents torch time to experienced beaders for $10 an hour. Many of the beads produced at Brazee are donated to Beads of Courage, an organization that awards beads to recognize milestones reached by kids suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.

In addition to beading, Brazee offers classes in glass cutting, flame working, and different torch-to-kiln techniques, along with individualized instruction. Angie, another instructor, just returned from a workshop at Bullseye Glass where she learned about Pate de Verre. She will be teaching this method of pressing glass powders, or frits, into a mold in upcoming classes.

Birthday Parties!

As Angie described Pate de Verre, the receptionist, Caroline, announced, “The birthday party is here!” She and Angie moved tables, rearranged chairs, and in moments the birthday girl’s family had everything decorated with balloons, snacks, and gift bags. The 17 party guests listened as Angie gave directions about the sun catchers they’d be making, the glass that would change color when fired, and the pieces that would turn into polka dots. She also told the girls to let her know if they wanted the copper ring at the top or on the corner so that their decoration could hang as diamond, rather than as a square.

The versatility of even a sun catcher is part of the appeal of glass art. “It can be for decoration, or highly functional,” Angie said, noting that the glassroom has bowls, plates, and coasters for visitors to decorate. But glass art has even more appeal than that. “I remember going to the Cincinnati Art Museum as a kid,” she said. “And I saw an exhibit with glass pieces hanging. I loved the way it looked and moved. It made me happy. How can you look at it and not be happy?”

Barbara David, mother of five and an award-winning columnist for Cincinnati Family Magazine, enjoys travel, writing, and restoring her century-old, west-side home.

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