Meet your Makers: Terminal City Glass Co-op

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Did you know that Vancouver’s Terminal City Glass Co-op is the first non-profit, co-operative glass arts facility in all of Canada?

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Ideally located in artist-friendly East Vancouver, Terminal City provides access to high-quality glass making equipment and resources for new and experienced artists and offers classes in glassblowing, flameworking, beadmaking and sandblasting (for ages 16+). The Co-op also tries to engage the community through special events, like the Eastside Culture Crawl, that promote glass as an art form.

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I spoke to co-founder and Program Director Holly Cruise and here’s what she had to say about why Vancouver is such a great place for co-ops, the city’s reaction to it, and what people are getting up to in their classes:

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What makes Vancouver a good place for Canada’s first glassblowing co-op?

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Vancouver is very co-operative friendly city. We live in a place where we have to maximize our use of space and resources, and so it makes sense to share work space, materials and equipment.

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Has the city embraced the co-op since it started up?

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The people of the city have. Everyone who comes to Terminal City is a little awe-struck by our space. It’s big and we make a lot of magic here, plus everyone is very supportive and friendly. We’re also in an ideal neighbourhood for creativity, as we’re at the epicentre of the Eastside Culture Crawl in the Mergatroid Building which has 55 artists studios. We couldn’t ask for cooler neighbours!

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What’s the most popular class?

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Our Glassblowing 1 class is always full! But really it’s about even between Glassblowing, Flameworking, Beadmaking and Sandblasting. Anything at the beginner level is always busy.

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What kind of people come to your classes? And what do they typically make?

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We have such a broad range of students, from 16-year-old kids to 70-year-old retirees, and everyone in between! A lot of people who come here want a creative experience, to do something fun in their spare time. In Glassblowing 1, students learn to make glass paperweights, small cups and bowls, and in the Beadmaking class, they learn how to craft a variety of colourful beads. Flameworking students are taught how to make small sculptures, pendants and marbles using borosilicate glass, and in Sandblasting, they learn how to apply surface decoration to flat glass and other glassware.

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Are there any fun facts that people are surprised to find out about glassblowing?-

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You don’t have to have strong lungs to blow glass!

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Terminal City Glass Co-op-

I got to visit a workshop on the tiny island of Murano, just north of Venice, to watch glassblowers at work. Sitting there watching little molten blobs of glass become beautiful works of art – with just someone’s breath – was riveting. And while doing my research for this feature, I was amazed to learn that that the glassblower was using the same technique, and practising in the same place, as a glassblower in the 13th century!

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The history of glassblowing actually dates all the way back to the 1st century BC. Invented by the Phoenicians during the rise of the Roman Empire, glassblowing is glassforming technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble using a blowpipe and shaping it to make glass vessels. Glassblowers “free blow” short puffs of air into a molten portion of glass called a ‘”gather” which has been spooled at one end of the blowpipe. This produces an elastic-y “skin” on the interior of the glass blob that matches the “skin” on the exterior (which happens when you remove the glass from the furnace). The glassworker then quickly inflates the molten glass and works it into whatever shape they want.

During the middle ages, Venice became the go-to place for blown glass after artisans learned the secrets of glassblowing through trade with the Middle East. In order to maintain their monopoly in the industry, the government forced all the Venetian glassblowers to move to the island of Murano in 1291, where they practised in exile. While in exile, the Murano glassblowers perfected the craft and developed an incredibly clear glass called cristalo, and new colors like deep blue, amethyst and emerald. Despite the fact that leaving the island was punishable by death, many glassblowers managed to escape and shared their new techniques and colors with other craftsmen throughout Europe and parts of Asia.

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Untitled-1Through all this, glassblowing techniques remained unchanged, and it’s neat to know that we can still learn the exact same techniques today at Terminal City Glass. If you want to get a little taste of what they do, check out their booth at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire where they will be doing flameworking and beadmaking demonstrations.

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Holly Cruise will also be at the Maker Faire Speaker Stage from 2:30 – 3 pm on Sunday, talking about different techniques in glass making. Her talk is called FUN with Glass: How to Work with Fire and Not Get in Trouble! Definitely something you don’t want to miss!

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Haven’t bought your Vancouver Mini Maker Faire day tickets yet? They’re cheaper if you buy them in advance!

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Stop by The Hackery and  Lee’s Electronics for a special promo code. The Hackery and Lee’s also still have paper ticket weekend passes available at EarlyBird prices. Get ‘em before they’re gone!

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Lee’s Electronics  — 4522 Main Street
The Hackery  — 304 Victoria Drive @thehackery

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Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glassblowing; http://www.seattleglassblowing.com/glass_history.html

Photos: Terminal City Glass Co-op







Cute and Cuddly DIY: Noortje de Keijzer’s Knitted Boyfriend

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Now here’s an appealing idea: Dutch artist Noortje de Keijzer took DIY to the next level and knit herself a life-sized man. Watch Noortje and “Arthur” spend a romantic day together:

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MY KNITTED BOYFRIEND from Noortje de Keijzer on Vimeo.

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Adorable, right?

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De Keijzer talks about knitting a boyfriend to soothe her loneliness, and it makes perfect sense. We knit gloves to keep our hands warm and hats to keep our heads warm; why not knit a man to keep our hearts warm?

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Noortje says that her knitted bf is the best because he likes to snuggle, makes her laugh, shares her interests, and more importantly, because he’ll never leave her. Man, this guy is a serious catch (even if he is inanimate).

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Though her argument for a knitted man is a compelling one, sadly, this particular “relationship” just isn’t viable in the long run. Yes, it’s a great way to get some comfort after a break up, or for those stretches in between relationships, but in the end, we crave real, human contact. And unfortunately, a body pillow with a face won’t cut it when we need someone to really listen – and talk back – to us.

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But hey, sometimes just the idea of something makes us feel better, so I admire her for using her DIY skills in such a thoughtful way.

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If you’re interested developing your knitting skills, come on down to the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire on June 1-2 and check out The Fraser Valley Knitters Guild who will demo the basics of knitting (including casting on, the knit stitch, and casting off) at their booth. Handy learn-to-knit kits for novices will be available as well.

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Also, you can sit in on Caitlin ffrench’s talk on the art of dying wool, “Flax to Linen and other homespun projects”, on Saturday June 1 from 4-5pm.

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Haven’t got your Vancouver Mini Maker Faire day tickets yet?

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Stop by The Hackery and  Lee’s Electronics for a special promo code. The Hackery and Lee’s also still have paper ticket weekend passes available at EarlyBird prices. Get ‘em before they’re gone!

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Lee’s Electronics  — 4522 Main Street
The Hackery  — 304 Victoria Drive @thehackery

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Meet The Crafters: Heidi Liao, My Secret Cravings

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After searching high and low for the perfect cake topper for her wedding cake and coming up empty, Heidi Liao decided to make her own using the clay molding skills she learned in pottery class. It was such a hit with family and friends that she decided to try her hand at making clay jewelry. Now Heidi specializes in handcrafting tiny food in jewelry form. I contacted her for a Q&A before her very first experience in the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Here’s what she had to say about her craft.

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SV: First off, why food? Are you a big foodie and wanted to bring that into your crafting?

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HL: I was never a foodie growing up so it’s ironic that I decided to make food-themed jewelry. But I thought food is appealing to everybody, and it can be made to look so delicious! Making non-edible food is almost as good as making real food!

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SV: Where do you get your inspiration?

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HL: I get my inspiration mostly from bakery shops and Pinterest.

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SV:  Once you decide on the treat, how long does it typically take you to make a piece? What’s your process?

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HL: Initially, it takes me around 15-20 minutes to make each item. As I get more familiar with the colour and texture of the piece, it takes less time. I start each piece by mixing the colour of the clay. Then I start molding the clay to the shape I want and continue working at it until I get the proportion right. Once I’m happy with it, I send it to the toaster oven to bake. After baking, I let it cool and then put on toppings, if any, and then let it dry. Lastly, I finish with a glaze to seal the colour and apply any findings (if it’s a pair of earrings). Once that’s done, it’s packaged and then ready to be shipped to the customer.

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SV: What’s your favourite piece in your collection?

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HL: The mint chocolate ice cream cone stud earrings (below). I love the way the colour really stands out and I think they’re perfect for summer!

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SV: Of course I have to ask — what’s your favourite secret craving?

 

HL: Even though I’m not a huge foodie, I really do love ice cream. My favourite ice cream flavours are matcha green tea and black sesame. And I also love anything potato, especially sour cream & onion chips and fries, of course!

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Make sure you visit Heidi’s booth June 1-2 to check out all her adorable wares. You can also find her sweet treats on Etsy. Oh and don’t forget to get your tickets for Vancouver Mini Maker Faire!

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*photos courtesy of Heidi Liao