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I made a paperweight at Lillie Pad Studio!!

I like to do cool things. Different things. Don’t get me wrong, I like grabbing dinner with friends and going to a movie or bowling like any one else – I just consider those go to activities. I like to have a new experience learning something I have never experienced before so when I saw a glass making workshop on living social – I emailed my gal pals and pretty much stated we were doing this. Luckily, they didn’t argue too much.

So this past friday night, we all met for a bite to eat and then pulled into the drive way of Lillie Pad Studio. To be 100% honest, I had zero idea what to expect. Which is good. I had an open mind and was super excited (and super nervous at the same time.) The awesome Michelle Lillie at Lillie Pad didn’t have any problems with me snapping away pictures near a 2000 degree furnace so I snapped away so I could show you what we did (little camera – not all that pretty photos).

We set out to make paperweights. Which I’m sure are so pretty! Lauren picked them up yesterday and I can’t wait to get mine. Hehe.

First we learned how to constantly turn the rod because if you aren’t turning it the glass is still a gel like substance and will fall off like putty. As we took turns constantly turning the rod to get used to the motion, Michelle demonstrated how to make the perfect paperweight. 

The first step is heating the rod. Apparently I didn’t get a picture of that. The rod goes into the glory hole and is heated until it is glowing. The reason that has to be done is so the molten glass will stick to the rod. And standing in front of the glory hole is mad hot. Heat to the max! This is Michelle getting the molten glass from the 2000+ degree furnace. Craziness!!

This is the fun part! You get to pick your colors! This is called frit, if I remember correctly, which is broken glass.

Once your colors are selected you roll the rod with the molten glass over the frit to collect them, constantly turning. And then it is back to the glory hole!!

To create a design on the inside like this – the one on the right:

You would use a mold like the one below and just let the molten glass fall into the crevices of this model. The goal is to pick it up and keep turning while you sit down to start moving it farther off the rod.

If you have ever seen paperweights – some of them have this little bubble in them – that is what Michelle is creating now – and yes I totally got to use a blow torch and it was amazing. You blow torch the bottom and use gigantic sized tweezers to gradually open a hole in the bottom of the molten glass to allow air in.

This is how the paperweight gets it shape. Newspaper is your best friend. I have no idea how a piece of thousand degree molten glass doesn’t burn through every wet layer of the newspaper but it doesn’t. It was so cool watching Michelle do this – her moves were so elegant compared to ours, granted she has been doing this a time or two but it was like a dance. Very graceful.

Then it is back to the glory hole!

This is called jacking. That is a jack that she is holding and that is used when it is time to start forming where the base of the paperweight is going to be to get it off the rod.

This was called the fancy foot move! I kept thinking it was called the fancy boot move, I dunno. It was sorta loud with all the fans going. This is right before you are about to tap the piece of glass off the rod. You have to keep it turning and put pressure on the tweezers to make the base super small so it can come off. The next part required assisting so I didn’t get any pics of it, but you literally get to blow torch the bottom of your paperweight so someone can smooth the bottom out with a butter knife to make the base flat. It was so cool. I’m all about blow torching now.

Jenn at the glory hole!!

Lauren at the glory hole!! She looked so serious!

Seriously, keeping this thing moving and having to use the tweezers or jack was like a crazy dance you were just learning.

The glass is super hot so Lauren is shielding Jenn’s arm. It also helps you to focus on what you should be looking at.

Oh yeah! Jenn and the fancy foot move!

 Lauren is shaping her molten glass.

Lauren was super good at remembering to keep her right hand behind her back – if you don’t you will instinctually want to start rolling the rod with that hand and where you would grab is sooooooo hot it isn’t even funny.

Here she is finding the end of the rod so she can start to move the glass farther off of it.


Seriously – over 2000 degrees!

This was a hard move for us to conquer. While keeping the rod turning you had to be able to stand up and sit down without touching anything hot.

She looks so serious. I am positive I am making crazy faces in her pictures.

Fancy foot!

Ain’t we the cutest??

Thanks so much for having us, Michelle! Can’t wait to come back!!


  • April 10, 2012 - 10:12 am

    Bekka - Too cool!

  • April 11, 2012 - 10:08 am

    Ali - Looks like you had a blast but I have to be honest…this whole process terrifies me. I can’t wait to see your paperweight!

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