Beyond the glass

Instead of the typical date at the movies followed by dinner, my wife and I enjoyed an arts and craft outing at GlassRoots, located at 10 Bleeker Street in Newark, NJ. I must say this had to be one of the best dates! The best way to describe the layout is an industrial art studio: mixed with an art gallery and metal shop class. We were greeted by the program director, Jenny Pollack. She was surprisingly very warm considering we were surrounded by cold metal and glass. The “hands-on” portion which involved the creation of glass beads was facilitated by Kate Dowd. Young but very knowledgeable of the craft, her personality was undeniable as she threw in a few jokes from time to time to “break the ice” or “glass”. I appreciated the humor especially since I knew that I was going to be working with fire, something that I’m not a big fan of. I have been burned before. This time was way different than me trying to cook pot roast on my own, I was guided by a trained professional. We went over the safety instructions over and over until I was able to gain enough confidence to start the task on my own. We had a review on what and what not to do. For example, make sure you wear safety glasses at all times, practice turning the flame on and off, never pass your arm through the flame and most importantly turn off the flame when you are finished. Kate’s presentation was inspiring rather than intimidating, and I was eager to begin. The task was psychologically challenging; I’m manipuating glass with a flame!

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Richard Paz, a flame working artist that works in the studio noticed I was having a little trouble and provided a helping hand. I confidently created two glass beads. While the beads cooled, we took a tour through the studio. We had the pleasure to witness unique exhibits from artists of various ages. Our last stop was at the glass blowing studio where we had the opportunity to meet the “dynamic duo” Jason Minami and Jennifer Johnson. I sat in awe while they multitasked by educating us on the art of glass blowing and performing the task. The chemistry between the two was evident. Their honesty of having on and off days and how it affects their work was an excellent reminder of the ebb and flow in any partnership, including work relationships. My experience at GlassRoots was very inspiring to say the least. Life is like glass. It can take many forms but can also be shattered when its affected by drastic conditions like temperature changes or a visit by gravity. Patience and an easy cool down can create a stable long lasting sculpture. I highly recommend checking out GlassRoots. Anyone looking for summer activities for adults or kids 10 and up, make sure to visit

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