Large, small, pink or striped – all could be found at the Morton Arboretum’s sixth annual Glass Pumpkin Patch.
“This year we officially have 5,986 pieces and we have 20 artists represented, which is fantastic,” said Co-Producer of the patch, Kyrana Michaelson.
Each of those artists brought their own unique flair to the patch, something attendees got to witness first hand during one of the many glass blowing demonstrations.
“So Aaron’s using a blow pipe, and the blow pipe is a hallow tube, think of it kind of like a giant straw, it’s the way we get air into the piece. And inside that furnace we have a crucible that can hold up to about 125 pounds of clear molten glass, so he literally is gathering glass on the end of the pipe. Now the glass is so hot is moves like honey and if he stops moving his hands the glass will slump off the end of the pipe,” Michaelson explains.
Once the piece gets started, it’s time to add color, using fine shards of glass called frit.
“The glass almost acts like a giant hot ball of glue, and as he goes over the frit, the frit adheres to the glass. Now it doesn’t fully melt it, it sticks to the outside, so what he’ll end up doing is going back into the furnace and melt that color onto the clear glass,” said Michaelson.
After a few trips to the furnace, a puff of air is added through the blow pipe.
Michaelson adds, “everybody thinks it takes a great amount of lung strength to get the air into the pipe, it really takes about a cheek-full of air, and the ability to create a seal.”
Allowing the glass to cool slightly, work begins on the shape, using an assortment of tools and molds.
Once the piece is the right shape, the pumpkin is disconnected and the stem is added.
“He seats the stem on the body of the piece, usually does a little wiggle and slowly starts to stretch up, and we’ve got 10 rings on the stem,” said Michaelson.
And while this process takes less than 15 minutes, many artists have been working on their creations for months.
“What you see on display here really truly is their blood, sweat and most importantly their passion,” said Michaelson.
A passion evident in every one of these handcrafted glass gourds.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.
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