The glassworks makes a variety of art pieces, but most hearts are just for Valentine’s Day.
There is so much symbolism in the simple shape of the heart — from love to compassion to the innermost aspect of being.
Glassblower Amy Crawford was heading to work to fashion her first glass hearts when she received word her grandfather had died.
She found it therapeutic dealing with her emotions through what fellow glassworker Sean Welch calls the “controlled calmness” of the process.
At Avalon Glassworks in West Seattle, Crawford and Welch alternate turns from the first furnace, the crucible, to a secondary furnace, called the glory hole, producing heart-shaped paperweights born from a clear, molten mass gathered on a steel rod.
The furnace is a steady 2,135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Movements are measured, deliberate, with a rhythm to them.
You don’t want to rush about with red-hot glass.
Welch says “this is not in a soft place.” The glass studio is steel and concrete with harsh temperatures, especially in summer.
But, Crawford says, it’s magical working the “gifts” from the Earth.
They roll the rods constantly to let gravity give its pull to the molten material.
A quick dip into a tray of small, glass particles imparts the color they choose.
Handmade tools from the Olympic Peninsula snip into the mass, and the shape begins to emerge.
If there’s a rough spot it’s burned off by the 2,000-degree glory hole or flames applied near the end of the process.
Insulated gloves protect hands when a finished heart is moved to a final oven, the annealing furnace, to slowly cool but also gain durability.
The pieces are solid and surprisingly strong, Welch says. The glassworks makes a variety of art pieces, but most hearts are just for Valentine’s Day.
Each is unique in pattern with slight variations in shape.
Almost all will sell by Feb. 14, for $30 each.
For Welch, “It’s nice when people appreciate what you do.”
For Crawford, “Making hearts will always have a special place for me because of that day.”