Want to get a clearer view of what the Pittsburgh Glass Center does but can’t make it to East Liberty?
Jason Forck brings the heat to local events.
As creative projects director for the center, he runs the outreach vehicle Hot Wheels. The mobile furnace – which reaches about 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit – allows him and other glassblowers to give demonstrations around town.
Hot Wheels is equipped with all the tools Forck needs to turn molten magma into works of art, including cups, vases and sculptures. During an event in Mars, he created spaceships to match the town’s out-of-this-world charm.
Forck recently worked his fiery magic at Necromancer Brewing Co. in Ross Township, making beer steins and pitchers. Typically, when artists blow glass, the objects are put in a kiln at the center to cool for 14 to 16 hours.
Art made during events is strictly for educational purposes and does not go through that stabilizing process, so when it inevitably breaks, it is reused for the next demonstration.
Forck, a Kansas native who has been with the Pittsburgh Glass Center since 2005, says more people are interested in glass blowing since Netflix released “Blown Away,” a reality show that pits glass artists from around the world against each other. Heather McElwee, the center’s executive director, served as a judge during the second season.
If Hot Wheels inspires you to get rolling on your own glassmaking career, Forck — who studied the trade at Emporia State University in Kansas — recommends taking a class at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Many students end up getting factory glassblowing jobs, owning their own businesses or teaching workshops.
“Be patient, as it takes some time to acquire the hand skills to get it figured out,” Forck says. “And enjoy the journey!”