Sometime around 3000 BC man discovered that sand could be melted. The liquid sand when cooled turn into glass. It is likely the discovery was made by potters since the process requires a high temperature like that of a potter’s kiln. Glass blowing came later. It was invented during the Roman Empire in the first century BC. The first glass blowing workshops appeared to have developed in areas now occupied by Israel and Lebanon. Rulers so valued the secret of glass making that glassblowers were virtually prisoners—not permitted to travel. Penalty of disclosing their methods was death. The tools and techniques used have remained almost the same since the discovery of glass blowing. Molten glass is gathered at the end of a hollow pipe. The glassmaker blows through the pipe creating a pliable glass bubble that can be shaped by swinging, rolling, or blowing. Separately produced pieces can then be added by a process called welding—handles, stems, and decorations.
Ever wanted to blow your own glass? North Carolina Glass Center will teach you how to master this ancient art or you can watch experienced glass artists at work. Or you can just shop among the outstanding works of art produced on site.
The Glass Center is dedicated to education, exploration, and collaboration in all forms of glass. As a non-profit organization, they provide space and tools to anyone inspired to work in glass. That includes experienced makers or anyone who is touching glass for the first time. The center describes itself as a warm, positive, safe environment to explore their creative side and experience a material that can be transformative. Whether you want a small sample or an in-depth experience, they offer an array of educational options to explore that range from 30-minute workshops to full 8-week courses. The shops are open and viewable to the public, so if you do not have time for a hands-on-experience, you can view a class or demonstration!
This is what the Center’s website has to say about their hours and public accessibility:
The North Carolina Glass Center is open 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm. Located in the heart of Asheville’s River Arts District, the North Carolina Glass Center is surrounded by many fine artist studios and great restaurants. In addition to offering classes and demonstrations, we are proud to have nearly 40 artists that work out of our studio. Our gallery is free and open to the public and represents the work of our artists and instructors. This includes emerging, undiscovered artists, as well as artists that have been working with glass for over 30 years. You may contact us by calling 828-505-3552
Once you are in the River Arts district, you will be in the center of studios and galleries for over 200 working artists in virtually all medias, and there are local breweries for a taste of Asheville’s local beers or restaurants for dining between visits to studios and galleries.