Community

The Crucible Hot Shop Relaunches With A Greater Community Focus

Cathy Niland | 1.26.2022

The Crucible’s Hot Shop is the first studio you see when you enter the building. Students, faculty, and staff often find themselves mesmerized as they watch artists turn heaps of molten glass into stunning works of art. But for nearly two years, the Hot Shop furnace has been cold with no programming taking place due to safety hazards posed by COVID-19. 

That is, until this week.

For the first time since March 2020, our Glass Blowing department is hosting a series of short-form classes for local educators and community program affiliates. These community-focused offerings are part of a new initiative to increase access to glass blowing.

“Our goal is to make the Hot Shop more accessible to everyone who wants to blow glass,” explains Kate Drury, who has spent the last few months working to get the Hot Shop up and running. She’s excited about the department’s new direction. “Glass is a really amazing medium, but it’s really expensive, so, unfortunately, that can be limiting. We’re working on getting funding so that we can have free classes and offer more scholarships.”

Through these free 3-Hour Taster classes, we are excited to give individuals and community organizations a space to learn new skills and explore their creativity in glass. We hope to build long-lasting relationships with our local teachers and community partners who can help spread the word about The Crucible’s scholarship opportunities for low-income and BIPOC youth. And after the incredible challenges on teachers during COVID-19, we wanted to welcome them back to our studios for a creative respite.

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“We feel like there are no better ambassadors for the work that we do. It’s a win-win to have educators experience firsthand how meaningful these programs are,” explains Community Programs Manager Iz Plasencia.“During the pandemic, they have been working constantly, so we’re really happy to provide them a small opportunity to enjoy themselves.”

This is the first in a series of new Hot Shop offerings coming this spring. Not only will regular classes resume (yay!), but we will also have increased studio access for artists, new opportunities for McClymonds High School students, and workshops for Crucible faculty and staff. 

And The Crucible Hot Shop is going mobile. Sam Schumacher, who has been teaching at The Crucible since 2015 and runs his own independent studio in Berkeley, is working on building a portable furnace and annealer to be installed in our Educational Response Vehicle (ERV). We will take this portable furnace out for demos and workshops at schools and events, helping bring the magic of glass blowing to folks all over the Bay Area.

“It’s such a valuable community resource,” explained Sam. “There’s limited access to glass blowing and it’s a challenging medium to get into. I’m really excited to be giving people access who might not normally have it.”

The Hot Shop is just getting started and already it’s returning life to the studio. As our first students gathered for today’s class, faculty and staff stopped to appreciate the roar of the furnace and the magic of our artists at work. 

“The Hot Shop is just so mesmerizing,” said Iz staring at the furnace. “The sound and the flames and the molten glass—it’s so captivating. And it’s something that’s been missing from this space.”

Stay tuned for more information on Hot Shop programming and classes in the coming months as we expand our Glass Blowing department.

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