the brooklynite

Playing With Fire
By Erica Brody

IT IS IN A THRILL-SEEKER’S NATURE to play wih fire. Fire, of course, is at the heart of the ancient art of glassblowing. And Fort Greene’s UrbanGlass is the place to go to hone one’s creative glass-art techniques.

Wannabe glassblowers can learn the bare-bones basics of handling tools and hot glass in two-day intensive workshops ($375) or sign up for more in-depth semester-long courses in shaping and blowing, casting, lamp-working, fusing, mosaics, and stained glass.

For those not quite ready to face the glory hole—the opening in a glassblower’s 2,200-degree oven—bead-making provides an easy entrée into glasswork. After choosing colors from a selection of straw-shaped glass rods, one sits atop a stool at a counter equipped with a Carlisle torch. With an instructor’s guidance, one crafts handmade beads in the torch’s flame of oxygen and natural gas, then strings them together—voila, a handmade, one-of-a-kind bracelet! (It’s $150 for a three-hour bead-making session; drag along a friend and it’s $125 each.)

Housed in a 17,000-square-foot space in the historic beaux-arts Strand Theater building on Fulton Street, the not-for-profit UrbanGlass offers periodic free tours and open houses with modestly priced workshops. And for the less hands-on thrill-seeker, the Robert Lehman Gallery at UrbanGlass showcases the glass designs—from utilitarian to abstract—of some of the 350 artists who use the center as their primary studio space.

Urban Glass, 647 Fulton St., 3rd floor (entrance at 57 Rockwell Place), Fort Greene (B, D, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Avenue), 718-625-3685,

Erica Brody is a contributing editor at the Forward and a frequent contributor to ARTNews.