Frequently Asked Questions, glassblowing in Vermont
Here you'll find some of the most Frequently Asked Questions I receive as a glassblower. If you have additional questions feel free to contact me at at anytime ~ Thank You!
Do you ever get burned?
I work with molten glass at over 2100 degrees Fahrenheit, so there are many opportunities to get burned, especially if you are not careful. However, although burns do occasionally occur, they rarely result in serious injury and rarely come from the glass itself at my studio. Most burns occur from steam when shaping the glass with newspaper and wooden blocking tools that are saturated with water, touching tools that have been in contact with the glass, touching the gathering iron/pipe too close to the glass, or from hot canes of glass used during the torchwork decoration process. Again, most burns are minor and usually involve a few choice words and scolding myself for being a bit careless!
How long do your pieces take to make? (and/or sometimes related to: "why do the pieces cost as much as they do?")
Great Question...hard to fully & adequately answer! In theory, my pieces range from about 10 minutes to almost 3 hours to make--sitting in the "hot seat" --from furnace "1st gather of glass" to annealing oven, where pieces will slowly cool for up to Two Days! However, some pieces (most pieces!) take years to Master the skills & processes needed to successfully make a given piece. After over 30 years of professionally making glass I am still learning and trying to become more efficient with my process and come up with new, innovative pieces that separate me from other glassmakers. Also, some pieces take lots of preparation BEFORE ever "sitting" down to make the actual piece. Sometimes it's designing, blending a custom color from many different glass powders, or pulling multiple layers of canes/rods of glass for a design: eyes/ears for animal sculpture, custom leaves/flowers for torchwork designs, murrine and millefiori cane techniques for paperweight, etc...that can take hours, days, or weeks to prepare. After the pieces are made they are "air-cooled" at the bench to approximately 1000 degrees, then carefully placed in an annealing oven where they take about 36 hours to slowly/gradually Cool. If pieces cool to fast, they CRACK! Upon cooling, most of my work is then "coldworked" (ground/polished) on the bottom of the piece until brought to a high glass polish--that takes another 10-15 minutes per piece....
Whew! So--take a good look at your next piece of hand-made glass and take a guess at "how long it took to make" :^)
Do you do Commission Work?
Not often anymore, but...I do take on Commission work under certain circumstances, depending on the time of year and the project involved. I work with other Artists, Sculptors and Designers in the New England area, as well as take on projects on an individual 'walk-in' basis. I welcome new ideas for my torchwork designs, especially those focused on the New England area and if you see a piece that I do, but have specific colors or background choices, I can usually accommodate. It depends primarily on the scope of the project and the time of year.
Do you make Memorial pieces with Ashes from Loved Ones?
YES! Making Glass Memorials ("Spirit Pieces") has become a very significant part of my work, both in scope and number of pieces I am doing, but also the importance and sanctity of making each piece. I will always do my best to work one on one with each individual, according to his/her/their needs ~ what will best comfort the individual; I offer many options, and can often (but NOT always) customize a piece just for you. I work with both People and Pet ashes, and only need a small amount to complete a project. Please Contact me for additional information, and visit my Sherwin Art Glass FaceBook Page ("Spirit Pieces" Album) for some examples.
Do You Teach Classes?
I do NOT advertise that I teach, although I have taken several High School students on for their "Senior Project" where they research glass techniques and practices over the last thousand years and explore an area of glassmaking they're interested in, and I assist them in making several pieces of glass. I have done and will do "experiences" for people; assisting/teaching them to make glass flowers, hearts, and simple paperweights and tumblers to take home. I also have several glassmaking friends in the area who teach classes often, and generally prefer to offer their services to folks interested in "just trying it out", since I am usually very busy with production work, most of the time. You can find more information about some of those people by visiting Vermont Glass Guild website or FB Page. I am working on a "Glass Experience" to promote locally, on a more ongoing basis-- Please Contact me for more information!
Can I come see you work?
*** Open by Appointment Only ***
Absolutely! If you're passing by the Studio you're welcome to pop in and see if I'm there; if I'm there, I am typically making glass! My studio is open By Appointment, due to Covid-19. PLEASE Contact me before your visit to make sure I'll be at the studio that day--Life Happens! Feel free to contact me also for more information and additional times to come visit the Studio.
How do you package & ship your work?
I am working all the time at becoming more environmentally responsible all the time, and using renewable sources for packing/shipping. Every piece will come packaged in a Kraft Gift Box, made from recycled materials, packaged with biodegradable packing peanuts in a corrugated cardboard box also made from recycled materials. I am working on removing the plastic bubble wrap, and now primarily use a hex-paper wrapping system, but for now you might still see some occasional bubble wrap to keep certain pieces safe through the shipping process. Unless specified, all pieces are shipped using the USPS Priority Mail option. they are 100 yards from the studio; I get a nice little walk every time I hand-deliver your box to the Post Office and send it on its way to You--Thank you for the added exercise! :^)
Is the piece I order the same as the picture?
Other than the Paperweight/Vase pages that will be added, showing individual "One-Off" Unique and Individual work, most of my other work is production based. I have had the pieces "professionally" photographed and it is a representation of your piece. Everything is hand-made to order, if not currently stocked (Please allow 3-4 wks for delivery; if you need to prioritize an order please call or mention in "Order Notes" upon checkout), and please appreciate that color, size, expression (on animal sculpture) will differ due to the "each piece individually hand-made" aspect of my glass working. I use no molds; everything is made out of the furnace, hot, hand-sculpted, and will differ slightly from the stock picture here on the website. Also, our colors will differ slightly from the manufacturers, batch to batch, and while I do my best to accurately make the piece as close to the picture as possible, each will be unique.
Do you offer exchange/returns?
If a piece arrives broken from delivery/packing issues, please contact me immediately (pictures will help me with Insurance claim) and I will send another piece to you, free of charge! If the piece arrives and you are not happy with it, or change your mind, again please contact me and we will arrange a mutually beneficial arrangement. Typically, I will ask you to ship the piece back and offer "In-store Credit" to purchase another piece, at your convenience!
Please ask anytime...I will endeavor to answer, and if I don't know....I will find out for you! There are no "dumb questions", and often questions lead to fun answers and me re-visiting my processes, and getting into the "nitty gritty" of how this all works!!
Stay Safe out there.....