Making Glass Ornaments

While we were in Seward over the Thanksgiving holiday our son Ron and daughter-in-law Janine brought us to the glass studio of Tom and Sharon Shirk, Rainy Day Creations, for a lesson in making ornaments.  We were very impressed with their operation and skills, and how well they worked together.  The first step in making an ornament is to dip a heated hollow rod into molten glass and insert into a super fired furnace through what Tom calls the “glory hole”.  The above photo shows Tom teaching me how to rotate the rod so that the glass will heat evenly and keep a uniform shape.

Photo showing the rod with molten glass heating in the furnace.  The temperatures were very hot in the building and we wore safety glasses and cotton shirts, Tom was very safety conscious which we all appreciated.

After the glass is red-hot we quickly bring it to roll in previously selected colored glass chips then the whole thing goes back into the super fired furnace to melt the chips.

After several applications of colored chips and melting it was time to begin blowing the glass to the desired size and shape.  Bob is blowing through a rubber tube attached to the hollow rod while Tom turns the rod and shapes the ball.  Ron and Janine watch and wait for their turn.

At this point the professionals take over to finalize the glass ball, Tom continues to blow the glass while Sharon prepares a small amount of molten glass to attach to the top for a hook.

Each of us had a chance to make our own ornament, here are two happy glass makers Ron and Janine!

The ornaments cure in a large kiln for 12 hours, here is my beautiful first attempt!  I love it!

And, here is Bob’s gem!  Thank you Sharon and Tom for a memorable, fun evening and perhaps the beginning of a Thanksgiving tradition!

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist

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  1. Janine Niebrugge says

    That was so much fun. Your balls are gorgeous!

  2. I think yours is the academy award winner 🙂

  3. I think yours is pointillism in style, Gail. They are beautiful! I would love to do that.

    We are heading your way next September!

    Noella xx

  4. Awesome Noella, will you allow time to visit the studio? We’d love to meet you in person.

  5. I’d love to meet you in person and visit your studio, Gail. How far are you from Anchorage?

  6. Your website has answered my question! Yes, I think we could do that!

    Noella x

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