Hot Glass, Cool Mom

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By Heidi Hess

The whining came from the back of the minivan… “Where are we going now?”  The tone was more akin to a child in kindergarten.  The person (who shall not be named) is not 5.  They are actually closer to 15.  I didn’t look back.  I just replied, “We’re going somewhere cool.” 

It was a warm Saturday afternoon.  The sun was beating down and as I turned onto a small street in downtown Lake Worth I was starting to second guess my decision to venture to the Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts.

I had read about this place.  Actually, I have always been interested in glass blowing but let’s face it, it’s not like you can do it at home.  My husband would certainly frown at the idea of turning our kitchen stove into an oven for molten glass.  He freaks out every time I forget to turn the oven off – let alone keeping an oven going constantly at 1200 degrees.  

The outside of this converted train station is unassuming.  I didn’t think we were in the right spot at first but then I parked and decided to have a look around.  There’s statue closer to the entrance in the parking lot.  It’s a large head of a woman.  This is what my family is going to do to me if this place is a dud.  

“I don’t know about this…” the other child (who shall not be named) murmured.  “Oh, come on.  It might be fun.” I chirped back, bounding up the stairs.   Once inside, the atmosphere changed.   Everything opened up and we were greeted with large pieces of colorful glass twisted into unusual shapes.  Further down were more familiar things… small vases, glasses, and pendants.  And everyone we encounter is uber friendly. 

Online I read about their classes in glass blowing, fusing and flamework – (doesn’t the name just sound like fun)? We passed a classroom that had a flamework class already in session.  And further down there was a small group of women working on a piece in the glass blowing class.

There were chairs and tables just on the outskirts of this class and, to my surprise, my family sat down.  They were slightly interested.  The gentleman leading the class was explaining the process and how glass can be unpredictable.  We all watched in amazement as they transformed a glowing orange blob into a colorful vase just by rolling and blowing and reheating to shape the glass.  It was fascinating. 

We took a stroll through the gallery.  A large portion of the pieces were made by local artists but some were from artists from all over the country.  Everyone was quiet now – a good sign.  We started to leave and both the kids asked if they could take a class.  It turns out they are old enough to take the glassblowing class.  So for all the mom’s out there looking for fun things to do this summer with their kids, you might want to think about signing them up.  

Now comes the good part.  We all pile back into the minivan.  “Hey, Mom.” Whiny child #1 says… “That was pretty cool.”  I smile on the inside knowing that not only was that place cool but I’m a pretty darn cool too.  

If want to be a cool mom too, check out the Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts located at:

1105 2nd Avenue South
Lake Worth, Florida 33460
(561) 508-7315  

benzaitencenter.org