Watching hot blown glass art being created is very relaxing to me. The steps taken to create beauty from a small dab of glass is impressive. Getting the opportunity to watch art being created up close is…well…priceless.
Lisa Pelo runs her own hot glass art studio out of a workshop behind her home near Clayton, Indiana. The kiln runs at about 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, with the orange flames embracing it. Lisa has been an artist for 25 years, splitting time between Indiana and Ohio. She has art pieces in several museums and galleries around Indiana.
We watched Lisa and her art partner, Clayton Benefiel, work together to make a vase with flowers on it. The process took about an hour. The size of an art piece determines the amount of time involved, Clayton said.
Creating the vase involved splitting time at the kiln and a chair, where each spent time blowing air through small hoses to help clear bubbles and mold the art. Lisa and Clayton each took turns rolling the hot piece on a newspaper soaked in water. The newspaper acted as a good cushion, they said.
Once the piece was ready to cool overnight, the duo used a giant set of tweezers to cut the piece from the blowpipe. Lisa wore fire resistant gloves and a hood as she took the piece and scampered to the cooling room. The vase needed about 24 hours to cool, Lisa said.
Lisa also created a glass ghost figurine while we visited. It’s impressive how she can hold conversations while she’s working. I’d be worried about burning down the place and dropping a scorching hot piece of glass on my foot.
Despite the ease in which she and Clayton seemed to create the vase and ghost, blown glass artwork requires teamwork, Lisa said. The pair have their routine because they’ve worked together for a long time, she said. They discuss ideas as they work.
Lisa stresses teamwork with her art students.
“Everyone’s skill is dependent on others,” she said.
Artists need to persevere, Clayton said.
“You’re always going to mess up,” he said. “You just need to hang through it. Fix as you go along.”
Following our demonstration, Lisa showed us some of her finished products, many which were designated for future shows and art fairs. She is a very talented artist and had several nice pieces on display.
Lisa was kind enough to let us choose an item to take as a gift. We chose a small glass pumpkin paperweight.
We appreciated Lisa and Clayton taking time out of their day to visit with us. Any chance we have to visit a hot glass shop, we’ll gladly take it. We recommend doing if when you have the opportunity.