November-December 2009 | TURNING UP THE HEAT

TURNING UP THE HEAT
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ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING

TURNING UP THE HEAT

Jeffrey Auxer’s glassblowing studio is fully operational, and he’s turning up the heat on the Berlin art scene

Written By: Jonathan Westman | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

Looking for a cool and most unusual gift idea this holiday season? If so, you should consider contacting Jeffrey Auxer – the talented glassblowing artist extraordinaire who recently set up shop in downtown Berlin.
 
Auxer’s workshop (located in his Jefferson Street gallery) is now fully operational, which not only means he is creating impressive pieces daily, but now you can too, thanks to his personalized glassblowing classes.
 
It’s extremely rare for us to feature a business in consecutive issues (in fact, this may be a first) but Jeffrey’s creations have brought increased attention to a bustling Berlin Arts District, and with his kiln now cooking, we couldn’t resist. Auxer presided over one of his beginner classes while our publisher, Erin Westman, learned the ins and outs of making paperweights.
 
“Erin did a very good job, definitely,” Jeffrey said. “She came away with two paperweights in her first class – that’s really very good.”
 
“The process was a lot of fun, but it is also very educational and enlightening,” Erin said. “Jeffrey is a very good teacher. He is patient and describes the process in great detail. He also allows you to be creative on your own from the very beginning, so when your project is finished, it is truly your piece of art.”
 
The paperweight class is fun, informative and expeditious – with first-timers completing their very own glass creations in less than one hour. Auxer provides a demonstration, answers questions and guides the students through the experience at a very controlled and comfortable pace.
 
“My beginning class is designed to teach students the basic fundamentals and introductory skills of glassblowing,” Jeffrey said. “By the end of the course, each student should expect to complete 6 to 8 pieces of glass. 
 
“Blowing glass is a truly unique experience, it’s something you can do at night, not too expensive and different from most other activities,” Jeffrey said. “You do not have to possess any artistic talent to make really cool glass pieces. People are completely surprised by what they are able to make.”  
 
Judging by the response, Auxer will be sharing his talents with quite a few aspiring artists.  
“The initial reaction has been very positive,” he said. “I already have four classes filled. The possibilities are endless even for beginners. We start with paperweights, but can quickly advance to golf putters, glassware, dishes, vases and more.” 
 
He said a number of his students began making gifts for the holidays in October.
Jeffrey’s workshop is an impressive site. His equipment was custom-made in New Jersey and includes a 250-pound electric pot furnace that heats to a working temperature of 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit; two annealers, which are similar to kilns, that reach temperatures of 900 degrees; a glory hole used to reheat glass to make it more pliable, which tops off at 1,800 degrees; a pipe warmer; a pipe cooler; and a 1-inch thick metal table called a marver used to roll the glass on to obtain a desired shape. It can get a little toasty, according to Jeffrey, who said he plans to heat his entire building this winter through the warmth given off by his machinery.
 
The space also boasts a ventilation system featuring a massive hood that measures 16.5 feet by 6.5 feet and five large fans that pull more than 4,500 cubic feet of air per minute. It took more than five months for his equipment to be made.
 
Jeffrey has even incorporated a viewing area in his gallery where family and friends can sit comfortably (away from the heat) and watch the action on a 42” flat panel television. 
 
Beginner classes are limited to two students per session to allow for a safe learning environment and individual instruction. The paperweight course begins at $75 per person. Auxer offers a host of additional classes, including holiday ornament making, flower pulling (the use of glassblowing tools to create the petals and stem on a flower), walk-in classes, intermediate and advanced classes (with a concentration on the shape and color application process) and private sessions. Referral discounts are available. For more information, visit Jeffrey’s website.
 
 
Jeffrey Auxer Designs, 443-497-0812
www.jeffreyauxer.com
 


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