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Photo Essay: Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

SOFA Chicago

Art in action! Image courtesy of Beth Santos.

Thanks to a tip from our friends at the Corning Museum of Glass, we had a chance to check out a live glass-blowing exhibition at this year’s SOFA Chicago.

Now in its 21st year, SOFA Chicago is the longest-running, continually presented art fair in the city of Chicago. Last year it saw over 34,000 attendees grace its 75+ galleries devoted to Sculpture, Objects, Functional Art & Design (SOFA).

Here’s what we saw:

SOFA Chicago

SOFA Chicago

Attendees at SOFA Chicago. Each gallery was unique. All that was missing was some light jazz music and a couple hundred bottles of wine.

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At the Corning Museum of Glass demonstration, Timothy Lotton works with his assistant to design a glass bowl with a floral motif.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

 Tim shapes a molten gather of glass.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

Tim blows a bubble into a blow pipe to expand the hot glass.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

Although the finished piece will be clear and light green, this molten bubble of glass glows orange at roughly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

Tim works to further shape the piece.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

When the glass drops below about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes too stiff to work with, so glass artists use a reheating furnace to heat the glass back up to a temperature at which they can continue to shape it.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

Gravity is a glassmaker’s friend, and Tim knows how to use it. Here, he has opened the top of the vessel with centrifugal force. He then holds it upside-down, allowing gravity to transform it into its final shape.

Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

Tim’s team helps to remove the piece from the pipe and put it in an annealing oven where it will slowly cool down over night (about 100 degrees an hour), which removes the stress from the glass to ensure it won’t break.

A beautiful work of art created by the Corning Museum of Glass at SOFA Chicago

The finished product! Photo courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass.

Hope you enjoyed our mini-jaunt into the world of glass blowing!

Have you ever seen art being created during your travels? Share your experience in the comments section!

Images courtesy of Beth Santos.

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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