People and Places with Pierce: The GlasStation

FARMVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Here in Farmville, they’re working on bringing the arts back to town. One place they’ve already done that is along Wilson Street where what was once a gas station has been transformed into the GlasStaion.

“We’re still working out things,” said Michael Tracy, an adjunct professor who teaches a glass blowing class at East Carolina University.

While Tracy sorts out the details, everyone celebrates a new beginning. ECU is one of the first universities in the state to offer a class in glass blowing.

“It’s definitely not what I expected,” explained Lacey Hargroder, a first year ECU grad student.

“I totally love everything about glass and one of the reasons I got into teaching is because I like being able to share that passion and enthusiasm with others,” said Tracy.

It’s a project that’s been several years in the making.

“There’s a group in Farmville that call themselves the Farmville Group that was looking to try to promote economic development within Farmville using the arts,” explained Tracy.

The ECU Arts College got involved and the rest is history. And speaking of history, this building has plenty of it.

“It was abandoned and kind of in dilapidated shape so they did a complete restoration,” said Tracy.

“It’s got this beautiful kind of rustic appeal and the equipment is state of the art,” added Hargroder.

“With glass blowing what we have is a furnace that has a pot of glass that is molten at 2100 degrees Fahrenheit,” explained Tracy. “We gather glass on the end of a blow pipe and blow a bubble into it. See how I’m letting it kind of fall and I twist it back up: it causes a nice swirl.”

From there, the options are nearly limitless. You can add color, shape.

“You kind of just pick them up with the hot glass,” said Hargroder.

“There are so many various specialized tools,” said Tracy. “Wooden paddles, for example. Wet newspaper.”

“It’s very beautiful to watch,” added Hargroder. “It kind of gets mesmerizing. It’s a lot of fun to look at the glass molten like that.”

But molten glass sometimes has a mind of its own.

“It’s not as simple as it looks,” explained Hargroder. “You’ll take it off and you’ll be walking to the furnace and it’ll just fall down and roll and you’re like ahhh hot glass, running after it. So it’s kind of funny.”

“I always say it’s not done until it comes out of the kiln the next day,” said Tracy. “There are still so many things that can happen.”

“You get a good laugh out of yourself here and there,” said Hargroder.

Tracy hopes the class will one day grow into a full program at ECU.

The group does offer free public glass blowing demonstrations.

 

Pierce is always looking for interesting and unique people and places to visit. If you have an idea, send him an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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