Have you ever wanted to create your own holiday ornament? Have you searched for a way to create a meaningful holiday tradition with your family? A local Flagstaff artist has a solution! George Averbeck has been blowing glass for more than three decades. His expertise is apparent when you step into the AZ Handmade Gallery on San Francisco St. in downtown Flagstaff. There are beautiful, hand blown ornaments, goblets, and more. You can select something just right for yourself or a loved one. If you want to get even more involved, you can sign up for a class with George and go home with an ornament of your own color choice and design!
Creating Your Own Design
George and his wife, Holly, work as team to guide you through the entire process - from color selection to the finished product. You start by selecting your favorite colors from piles of little glass pieces called "frits" that Holly spreads out for you. George will then help you select a long metal bar which he will dip into the kiln (kept at 1900 degrees) to get a fist-sized lump of molten glass to begin creating your ornament.
Now its time to add some color: George will roll the molten glass in the colored frits you have chosen, returning it to the fire after each roll to melt the frits into the ornament. He will repeat this shaping process until all of your colors have been incorporated. Then comes the fun part! You get to shape and twist your molten ornament, using tools there, until you are satisfied with your design.
George will step in and put your ornament into the "glory hole" - another kiln that is kept at 2000 degrees. Then while George sits in the chair and shapes your ornament, you will blow air into the glass ball as he rolls it. This part takes some coordination! George and Holly will guide you through the entire process. Once your ornament reaches the desired size and shape, George takes it over to the cooling area where he will cut the slightly cooled glass ball off the metal rod. Holly will bring over a little more liquid glass which she will squish on top of the ornament as George cuts the ball off the rod. He quickly shapes it into the hole at the top of the ornament where you will put a thread or ribbon to tie it up.
The hot ornaments are then put into a third kiln (at 900 degrees) to slowly cool down overnight. The kiln is set at an automated, timed sequence designed for maximum cooling without breaking. If cooled too quickly, the glass orbs would explode. As novice ornament makers, we get the benefit of George and Holly's years of experience. The result is a glass ornament, blown with your own breath, that you and your family will treasure for years to come.
If you and your loved ones are interested in the ornament making experience, you can sign up for a class starting in February of 2017. You can visit the gallery - AZ Handmade Gallery at 13 N. San Francisco St. or call 928-779-3790.