Glassblowing may seem like a complicated hobby to many people to learn and master, but glassblower Andrew Boatman has proved otherwise. He learned the craft from a family member and opened his own glassblowing facility, Blue Sage Studios, in Yukon in 2003.
"I was looking for something to do," he explains. "My buddy John and I went out to Santa Fe for a vacation and visited my aunt who had a glass blowing studio on San Mateo. We went back to Santa Fe a couple of months later and started building equipment to melt glass. It took about a year to build the studio in my barn and get it up and running in 2003. We were sitting around one night in the studio trying to think of name and John looked over at an old street sign that said Blue Sage Trail. And that was it. It fit well."
When Boatman is not blowing his own pieces, he is teaching others how to make their own glass creations to bring home and treasure. Classes are $85 an hour and based on availability. Like any fine art, practice makes perfect.
"On the first lesson folks make a small wine topper style paperweight and a flower," says Boatman. "The next hour we focus on paperweights and shaping the glass. The third or fourth hour we usually begin blowing bud vases. Much depends on the individual in learning. Glassblowing is complex but not really difficult. It is a lot of repetition and practice to become skillful in the art."
During the glassmaking process, the material is heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a molten, malleable consistency. It takes about 10 minutes to create a simple glass ornament for the holidays; more time is needed for paperweights, vases, bowls, wine bottle stoppers and other items that Boatman enjoys shaping. While working in the studio, students have to take safety precautions and assume that everything is hot. Closed toe shoes are recommended to prevent injury from anything falling onto a foot.
There are a lot of objects that can be made with glass, and Boatman has made them all. "Bowls, vases, and ornaments are popular," he says "We do a lot of commissioned work with wall hanging platters and light fixtures. We work with a wide variety of colors so a lot of folks can really get what they are looking for with our custom work."
In addition to classes, Boatman makes his studio available to the public and provides other glass artists with a torch and other equipment to assist with making their own pieces. Blue Sage Studios can also host group events of about any size including birthday parties to larger group events. Guests can watch Boatman demonstrate his glassblowing techniques and are welcome to bring some snacks and drinks.
Glassblowers-in-training can review scheduled class times and sign up for one by contacting Boatman through his studio's website at www.bluesagestudios.com.