Since her childhood, Ball State alumna Karen Cooksey said she has always had a peculiar attraction to glass.
“A friend of ours, when I was a child, was one of the owners of the St. Clair Glass Family, so we went up to Elwood, [Indiana,] a lot to see him at the glass factory,” Cooksey said. “I have several of his pieces. I have this fascination with glass and what you can do with it because it’s so moldable.”
For her birthday this year, Cooksey and her daughter decided to attend one of Minnetrista’s glass workshops, where together, they made about 15 of their own fused glass pendants and earrings.
“A couple of these will probably be pendants, and a couple, I may end up doing wind chime mobile with them too,” Cooksey said.
Cooksey said she had seen glass workshops before, but she had never attended one for herself before Minnetrista’s glass workshop.
Upcoming Minnetrista Glass Workshops:
- Bead Making: 1-4 p.m. Oct. 5. Cost: $55
- Copper Enameling Ornaments: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 14. Cost: $35
“I did stained glass for a couple years, but it’s a very expensive hobby that I just wasn’t prepared to go into full time,” Cooksey said. “This [workshop] came up, and I was like, ‘This would be cool to do…’ I just went ahead and registered.”
During the workshop, Cooksey was able to use tools such as waffle boards, grover pliers, breaker pliers and glass scorers to create designs in pieces of glass that were later melted together to create a smooth, cohesive design.
Karen Nickel, Minnetrista’s learning engagement coordinator, has taught Minnetrista’s glass workshop for seven years and led the workshop Cooksey attended. Before working at Minnetrista, Nickel said she had no prior experience with glass, but Minnetrista sent her to different workshops, such as Brazee Street Studios in Cincinnati, to learn different techniques and glass-making styles.
“It’s a perk of working here,” Nickel said. “[Minnetrista] sent us around to get a lot of training and also just to see how glass can be done in a classroom setting because it is very easy to do class when you have a big glass studio. What we try to do [at Minnetrista] is for the hobbyist and how you can do small glass projects at home.”
Minnetrista’s workshops are different from other glass workshops because the required tools and supplies for each different technique must be put out and picked up each night, whereas professional glass workshops may have permanent work spaces and separate rooms for different types of glass.
“We do hot workshops and cold workshops,” said Ashley Mann, Minnetrista’s discover and engagement manager. “Hot workshops would be fusing glass, which is when you melt it together. Cold workshops would be for things like stained glass for mosaics.
“We also offer torch-work workshops, so you can make pendants or beads. We also, on top of that, offer copper enameling classes, which is where you put powdered glass, and you melt it on top of copper pieces.”
While the cold workshops, like the fused glass pendants and earrings, are hosted at Minnetrista, Mann said, the hot workshops are held at the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass because the center has larger kilns and glory holes — furnaces that keep glass melted so it can be blown or molded.
Nickel said she teaches copper enameling workshops and most of Minnetrista’s stained glass ones as well.
“I kind of get a kick out of the visitors’ enthusiasm when they [attend workshops,]” Nickel said. “They have never worked with glass before, and they can leave with the piece that they’re proud of that they can wear and say, ‘Oh yeah, I did make this.”
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