The art of glass blowing may not be common knowledge for everyone. Fortunately, the Belmont Arts and Cultural Center provides classes for those of us who are clueless about the process but love the result—beautiful hand-blown glass plates, vases, and other home décor pieces. Even better, the center throws an annual party where you can browse and purchase locally hand-blown pieces.
“The Glass Jam has grown every year,” said Scott Novota, a local glass blower who will also be showing his work at the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival.
“We’re fortunate that the glass blowers at Belmont have connections throughout the country,” said event chairperson Michelle Ortiz-Miguez. “At the first Glass Jam the artists decided to get together, and they invited friends to watch them make the pieces. Now, it’s one of our signature events.”
The event is Saturday, Nov. 6 from 6-10 p.m. and will feature hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The artists will create pieces all evening that will then go up for grabs in a live auction. Additional items from Belmont artists will be featured in a silent auction.
“There will be a few surprise items from kind sponsors,” said Ortiz-Miguez. “All funds go to Belmont Arts and Cultural Center. The artists have been very kind to donate their time to this event.”
Artists are just as happy to donate their time and skill.
“Belmont is a great opportunity for Pensacola,” said Novota. “Letting the pieces be auctioned off is helping Belmont pay the bills. We want a place like Belmont to be around.”
Artists outside of Pensacola also appreciate the value of the Belmont. Mark Rosenbaum is a glass-blowing artist from New Orleans who has participated in the Glass Jam for the past four years and has been a glass artist for 30 years. Rosenbaum will also be at the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival.
“It’s definitely important to support the Belmont Arts and Cultural Center,” Rosenbaum said. “There isn’t really a glass studio open to the public that allows them to see how glass is made.”
The event is meant to teach as much as it is meant to entertain.
“Some people may be surprised at the difficulty of glass blowing,” said Novota. “It takes a lot of dexterity, but the more you do it the better you get. Hopefully, people come away with a new enlightenment on how things are made.”
“I hope people at the Glass Jam gain a new understanding of glass blowing,” said Ortiz-Miguez. “It’s a unique and fun event. We hope that people keep coming back to be enthralled.”
At the event, the artists will take turns creating their pieces. This allows artists to see what others are making and learn something new themselves.
“It’s like a jazz jam session,” Rosenbaum said. “You watch and see what other artists do and then respond to that.”
Those involved with the Glass Jam also hope to inspire people to try a glass blowing class.
“Once you see it done it really captures you,” said Ortiz-Miguez. “You say to yourself ‘I want to try that.’ Once you start you can get the glass-blowing bug.”
“I started glass blowing eight years ago when I moved back down here from New York City,” Novota said. “I took a class at Belmont and have been doing it ever since. It’s very addictive.”
That addiction can turn into something beautiful, like Novota’s colorful vases, which are not only eye-catching, but functional.
“My favorite pieces are the swirl vases with highly saturated colors,” Novota said. “I like to make vases and bowls. Some things are pretty to look at and then some things are pretty and can also be put to good use.”
If you do get bitten by the “glass-blowing bug” you can certainly cure it with classes at Belmont Arts and Cultural Center. Go to belmontartcenter.com for more information about workshops.
4TH ANNUAL GLASS JAM
WHERE: Belmont Arts and Cultural Center, 401 N. Reus St.
WHEN: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6
COST: Free for Belmont members, $15 suggested donation