Family Saturday

Family Classes: On Glassblowing and Blown Minds

In honor of back-to-school season, learn something new. No, we’re not talking earth science or fraction multiplication here—we mean something fun, and with your kids!

Photo by Patty Onderko

My family has recently discovered the fun of the family class: When we all learn a new skill or craft together, instead of just dropping our sons off at a [guitar/origami/yoga/pottery/improv/insert activity here] lesson on their own. Kids are used to constant instruction from their parents, so it can be deeply satisfying for them to see us be clueless sometimes. Or maybe that’s just my kids?

Anyhoo, a family class is a nice way to spend an afternoon with someone else besides you in charge. One of our favorite courses of study so far: glassblowing.

Brooklyn glass
I don’t recommend wearing safety glasses for your next family photo (and that’s our teacher, Josh!). / Photo by Patty Onderko

My wife and I booked a private three-hour class at Brooklyn Glass for the four of us and were paired with a fantastic professional glass artist named Josh (who also teaches at Urban Glass). If you do this, definitely ask for Josh. He explains the glassblowing equipment and techniques—which, aside from the blowing, includes other provocative patois, like an oven opening called the “glory hole”—without cracking so much as a wily grin. We had hands-on experience at every point in the process: heating and rotating our liquid glass in the burner, twisting it into shape with shears and pliers, blowing bowls, and—very fun!—flame-torching our works of art. We made beautiful glass paperweights and bowls to take home.

At $500, it was an unusually pricey weekend activity for us, but I can honestly say it was worth it. We learned how glass is made—a powerful lesson on the power of heat—while giggling together, overcoming our collective fear of very hot things, and creating art! We reminisce about our glassblowing experience often…like every time we put out fancy nuts in our fancy glass bowls!

Don’t Want to Play With Fire? Here Are 5 More Ways to Class It Up:

  1. Try out improv at a parent-and-kid class called True Play (and pick up family communication skills as a bonus).
  2. Take an Introduction to the Wheel class and learn to throw pots at your local pottery spot. My kids and I are trying one at BKLYN Clay next but, wherever you go, don’t bring up that scene from Ghost.
  3. Join your local YMCA, where a range of family classes is available, including cooking, kickboxing, yoga, and Zumba.
  4. Bake professional-tasting cupcakes together at Butter Lane or a three-layer birthday cake at Milk Bar.
  5. Make a fool of yourself at a family dance class (African dance, flamenco, salsa, hip-hop, and Irish dance) at Mark Morris!

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