SHAPE Gallery gets hot, hot, hot with workshops


Reaching 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the SHAPE Gallery has some hot art classes.

“Glass Blowing with Michael Peluso” is a beginner’s glassblowing class that will be offered from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 22 and 23. And yes, borosilicate glass really does get as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are not ready to try glassblowing though, SHAPE is also offering a variety of other workshops such as “Watercolor Painting for Beginners” on Feb. 26, “Exploring Pigment Qualities” on Feb. 28 and “Drawing on the Fly” in March and more.

Trisha Grace, president of SHAPE Gallery, said the cost for attending the workshops varies depending on the artistic medium the class is working with and whether or not the instructor provides the art materials. She said that 50 percent of the workshops’ proceeds go to the SHAPE and the other 50 percent go to the instructors.

Peluso’s glassblowing class is $150 per person, but Peluso also brings with him what he calls a “portable glassblowing studio.” These materials include the glass itself, torches to heat up the glass, a special kiln to cool the glass, special protective eyewear, and a plethora of additional tools.

Regardless of the price, you can be sure the SHAPE’s workshop instructors are professionals. Peluso has been blowing glass for 14 years, teaching the art for 11, and teaching with his current workshop style for four years. He estimates he has taught more than 2,000 students the basics of glassblowing.

Other workshops such as Mary Hickman’s “Exploring Pigment Qualities,” “Drawing on the Fly” and “Using a Sketchbook” cost only $8 per person, but participants are required to bring their own materials. Hickman was recognized by the SHAPE Gallery in January 2013, receiving SHAPE’s first Lifetime Achievement Award and a lifetime membership to the gallery.

“She’s a brilliant artist,” Grace said of Hickman. “She’s amazing.”

For workshops similar to Hickman’s painting and drawing classes, Grace said that 10 attendees make a good class size. However, classes like Peluso’s glassblowing workshop are restricted to only two or three participants at a time. “The class size is limited because it’s so one-on-one and hands-on, and you get Mike’s full attention,” Grace said.

Peluso usually starts his two-hour-long workshops by providing his attendees with a brief history of glassblowing. He then demonstrates how to make a simple glass piece, often a marble, and then instructs his participants on how to make the same. About an hour into the class, he gives another demonstration on how to make a more complicated blown piece, a vase for instance, and then it is the participants’ turn to try.

Peluso said some glassblowing classes show attendees how to make a flower or a Christmas ornament, but when the participants leave the class they also leave those skills behind. His workshops, he said, are different.

“When you leave this class, you will retain the knowledge of what you just made,” Peluso said.

To learn more about upcoming workshops being offered at the SHAPE Gallery, visit, or stop in at 20 W. King St.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Slate.