Zero to Chihuly: Couple to lead glass blowing class out of Clarkston studio

While Bob and Kathy Kernan have been glass blowing for almost 20 years, Bob said it still feels like he’s a beginner sometimes.

click to enlarge Glass workshop creations for a Jan. 11 class at Sky River Glass may include Christmas ornaments, a pepper, floats (pictured above), leaves or paperweights.
Glass workshop creations for a Jan. 11 class at Sky River Glass may include Christmas ornaments, a pepper, floats (pictured above), leaves or paperweights.

It took us probably a good five or six years before we really felt confident with what we’re doing,” he said.

The Kernans own Sky River Glass in Clarkston, and were both trained at the Seattle Glassblowing Studio and at Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada.

The techniques we use and the tools we use go back to the 17th century,” Kernan said. “In Venice, that'd be the same thing. The only difference now is we have electricity and computers that run the temperatures. We use heat and gravity, centrifugal force and simple tools.”

Wooden blocks, jacks, shears and paddles fill their glass studio, but Kernan said it’s “nothing too sophisticated.”

A lot of this is really just problem solving,” Bob said, which is what the couple will help students do as part of their third glass blowing class sponsored by Artisans at the Dahmen Barn.

click to enlarge Christmas Pickles are one of the items Bob and Kathy Kernan may help students create in their glass blowing workshop.
Christmas Pickles are one of the items Bob and Kathy Kernan may help students create in their glass blowing workshop.

Bob and Kathy will help beginners — and even those who have never worked with glass before — create three to four pieces in a day. Class creations may include Christmas ornaments, a pepper, float, leaf or paperweights. Or, even a “Christmas pickle,” Bob said.

Bob said most people have seen Dale Chihuly specials on TV — the Tacoma man known for his blown glass and large architectural installations — but glass blowing is still hard to explain.

But if they watch for five to 10 minutes, they catch on pretty quick,” Bob said.

The class will take place in the Kernans' glass studio, which Bob said hasn’t changed much in the last 17 years.

But what we do has,” he said.

The more experience we get, the better stuff we can make,” Bob said. “We’ve improved the equipment quite a bit from when we started out, but we’re the ones that changed more than anything, just with our skill level. It’s really a skill-intensive deal. It takes a little while to make something by yourself.”

Required registration for the Jan. 11 class must be done by Jan. 5, either at artisanbarn.org or by calling (509) 229-3414, because the 18-and-up class is limited to six students. The cost is $110, and includes all materials, except for a sack lunch and eye protection.

Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or ltreffry@inland360.com. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.

->if you go: WHAT: Glass blowing workshop WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 11; Prior registration is required by Jan. 5. WHERE: Sky River Glass, Clarkston. Directions to the studio will be provided upon registration. COST: $110. Register at artisanbarn.org or by calling (509) 229-3414. Participants, limited to six, must bring a sack lunch and eye protection, such as sun or safety glasses.

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