Friday, January 31, 2014

Vetro Glass Blowing Studio Tour

We had a field trip today with our homeschool friends.  We went to one of my favorite places - Vetro Glass Blowing Studio in Grapevine!


We've been here a few times.  Stuart surprised me with a wonderful "hot date night" for our 15th anniversary and Nicholas made a Christmas ornament here.

The first part of the studio is the gallery where you can "ooo" and "ahh" over all of the amazing pieces or even purchase something to take home.


Look at these amazing glass wall sconces!  The bright colors are just beautiful.


We didn't get to look around much because it was time for our group to go into the actual studio to learn about the art of glass blowing.  Today we watched two glass blowers work together to make a glass bowl similar to this one.


He first loaded the blow pipe with molten clear glass.  It is bright orange because it just came out of the extremely hot furnace.  He used some folded newspaper that he wet with water to start shaping the glass.  


He loaded some colored glass onto the piece and put it in the "glory hole" furnace to heat it up.


Next he used a special tool to shape the glass some more.  I believe they are called "jacks".  It looked like a giant pair of metal tongs.


He showed us the oval piece.  You can see the white in it but the dark color is actually a light blue.  It just looks dark because it is incredibly hot right now.


Now it was time for some actual glass blowing.  The first guy knelt down at the end of the rod and blew into it while another guy helped to shape the glass.  Can you see how the glass has blown up like a big bubble?


Fire keeps the piece malleable for shaping.  


The kids loved the sight and sound of the fire shooting out of the torch!


Pieces of glass were added to the bottom of the glass and curled to be "feet" for the bowl to rest on.


The next step is to transfer the glass from the hollow rod to a solid rod in order to complete the shaping of the bowl-to-be.  One guy used the jacks to score and cut the bowl from the hollow rod while the other guy put molten clear glass on the solid rod and then attached the rod to the bottom of the piece.


Rachel brought her camera along and I was so proud to see her taking pictures during the demonstration!


They heated up the bowl in the glory hole to make it malleable again.


Then one guy rotated the solid rod while the two of them worked together to open up the glass and soon it actually started looking like a bowl!


The next step was probably the coolest to me.  The guy put the piece in the glory hole and after the glass was heated up, he just kept spinning the rod.  


Centripetal force then worked to open up the bowl like magic!


They removed the bowl from the rod and then smoothed out the spot where the glass had attached to the rod.


Once it was completed, it was still very hot, maybe 1400 degrees or maybe a little less.  If it was left out at room temperature, it would cool down too quickly and cause the glass to crack, much like throwing a piece of ice into a bowl of warm water.  So they quickly put the bowl into a special oven called an annealer which is 900 degrees.  They let it slowly cool down over the next day and then it is ready to take home and enjoy.

What a cool process!  The guys at Vetro are so knowledgeable about their craft and they did a fabulous job of explaining each step to us in a way that was easy for the kids to understand.

Nicholas enjoys watching a series of videos on You Tube called Smarter Every Day.  There is a particular video that he watched recently which explained a Prince Rupert's Drop.  (Click HERE if you want to learn about it too.  It's pretty cool!)  Anyway, he asked the guy at Vetro about it after the demonstration. 


After the demonstration, we had a chance to look around the gallery some more.  I love the colors in this bowl.  So beautiful!


This piece just looks so striking.  It is amazing what they can go with glass, fire, and a minimal number of tools!


Rachel took more pictures in the gallery :)


And more pictures...she got several pictures of the display window from multiple angles.  I think she might have an interest in photography like her mommy.


The window was a beautiful place to display some of their glass ornaments.  We have one of these that Nicholas made here and it looks so pretty on our Christmas tree with the white lights reflecting in it.


Oh, I like these pieces too, especially because of that turquoise color!  So pretty!


As I mentioned earlier in this post, Stuart and I had a date night at Vetro a few years ago and we got to work together with a Vetro guy to make a glass heart for our anniversary.  That experience was amazing and it cost only $50 total for our participation and the heart we kept.  I noticed that they have a very cool event coming up for Valentine's Day this year called the "Flaming Cocktail Hot Date Night".  It's a bit more expensive than what we did but it sounds like so much fun!

Vetro Glass Blowing Studio is located at 701 South Main Street, #103 Grapevine, TX 76051.  The public is welcomed to watch the artists at work in the studio for free anytime but you probably need to call before you go to be sure there will be someone working in the studio at the time you will be there.  For the special educational demonstration that we had, you will need to schedule that in advance and it cost only $3.00 per person.  For more information, please call them at 817-251-1668 or visit the Vetro website.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Free Pizza with Book It!


The kids love participating in the Pizza Hut Book It! Reading program.  They get a free personal pizza each month for completing their reading logs.  We read books daily so they have no problem meeting their goals.  And the pizza makes lunch time easy and cheap for me!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Medieval Times TV Shoot, Day 2

We were all up early to get back to the Medieval Times Dallas castle for the second day of the TV shoot.  It was a cold morning.  The pool pump is running but there is still a very thin layer of ice on top of the pool!


We were amazed by these cool streaks of ice on the car's windshield


My Lord and Lady in front of the king's castle.  Let the fun begin!


We enjoyed a light breakfast and got to speak with the king himself while waiting to see what we would be doing next.


We were brought back over to the red and yellow section.  You can see about how many people attended as part of the "crowd" for the commercial.


We always seemed to be at the back of the crowd so we ended up on the last row both days so I don't know if we will even be noticed in the commercial.  But spending 2 days at Medieval Times with these two little ones has been such a blast!


One benefit to being on the back row is that we really got to notice all of the little things that were being done "behind the scenes".  The food had been served to the first few rows but they were told that they couldn't eat yet because there would be some close up shots of their rows.  While we all waited for the shoot to begin, the food got cold.  Someone from the production crew put some water in a spray bottle and went around spritzing everyone's meal to make it look warm and juicy for the cameras!  


Today's shoot was shorter than yesterday and we got out around 1:30 or so.  What a fun experience this has been for our whole family!


Since Rachel was given a princess hat yesterday, Nicholas was hoping that he might be given a sword or shield for today's shoot.  Unfortunately they didn't hand out any props today so we told him we would get a sword for him in the gift shop.  It was a major decision for him as he tried to decide which of these two to choose. 


We didn't get any of the water spritzed chicken so we headed to Chuy's for lunch.  The princess hat came in with us!


We didn't let the sword come in but we did let Nicholas try a jalapeno pepper for the first time!  I'm really proud of him for trying something new...even though it may have been a bit too spicy for him ;)


Although we didn't make any cash from participating in the TV shoot, we did get some pretty awesome swag bags!  We each got a special TV shoot t-shirt, mousepad, koozie, red and black bracelets, and most importantly, 4 tickets to come back to Medieval Times for a dinner and tournament.  We EACH got one of these bags so now we have 16 free tickets to use.  I'm thinking we might have to have someone's birthday party at Medieval Times this year!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Medieval Times TV Shoot, Day 1

We are at Medieval Times today.  We recently saw their new tournament show but today we aren't here for the show.  Because of some PR work I have done for Medieval Times here on the blog, they included us in a special invitation to be a part of their 2014 TV commercial shoot. 

The kids are super excited and it is a great opportunity for them to be a part of the "behind the scenes" of TV magic.


We were greeted with lots of wonderful food for lunch...salad, lasagna, tortellini alfredo, hot dogs, popcorn, fruit, chips, candy, and more.  The kids thought the smorgasbord was a pretty cool deal.


We has some time before the shooting would begin so we looked at the horses.


Rachel met the Princess.


And Nicholas hung out with the Falconer.


Finally it was time to enter the arena.  How exciting!


It was funny to see the first aid station for the filming crew.  The Pepto Bismol and Advil had already been cracked open.  This is such a big production that I'm sure they have been working overtime to get ready for this day.


We were seated in the section for the red and yellow knight and given the traditional crowns. 


The arena is quite large but I believe there are only about 50 families here so we just filled up the red and yellow section.


There was a lot of down time as the crew finished setting up and making sure everyone looked their best.


We were sitting on the back row and got to talk to this guy a lot.  He is in charge of the artistic side of things.  He passed out princess crowns and swords and shields to random kids throughout the audience, took the sheen off of someone's crown, cleaned wine glasses of fingerprints, etc.  It seemed like a fun job.


Stuart and Nicholas were being silly as we waited. 


Time to roll the cameras!  Here is a video of one of the many things we did today....random cheering and banner waving!




There were some designated people in the crowd that the cameras focused on for several shots.  There was a couple, a girl to be crowned, and also a dad with his son.  It was fun watching all of the retakes as they would tell the people to do things a little differently or change the camera angle or wipe more fingerprints off the wine glass.  

Then they passed out the food.  Oh I love the food at Medieval Times.  They have an amazing roasted chicken.  It was around 6:00 pm by now and we were getting hungry again.  But we all understood that the food was just there so they could be sure it showed up in their video shots so no one ate it.  How hard it was to not just take a bite but we resisted....well, most of us did.  Stuart eventually just had to take a bite of his potato.


Taking random pictures to try to keep my mind off of the food.


We did eventually get to eat and oh man it was yummy!

They took some footage of the red and yellow knight riding up on his horse and throwing flowers into the audience.  Rachel wanted to catch one so badly and the knight tried to throw it to her but it was heading right for me so I reached up and caught it to be sure Rachel could have it.


We all had a great time today.


The kids felt like a true knight and princess and even had their own battle scene with each other's red banners.


Rachel, of course, is in love with her special princess hat.  I love it too.  I remember my mom made a princess hat similar to this for me when I was little as part of a princess costume.  It was even light blue like this one!


After shooting was done, we hit the ice cream machine in the Hall of Arms.


There was a little more shooting to do in the Hall of Arms.  We walked in front of the horse stables to be the "movement of a crowd" behind their video shots.

There was also a scene next to the gift shop where the dad and son that were filmed in the arena seats had swords and shields and acted out a battle.  They did it over and over for the cameras.  Stuart and Nicholas were even asked to walk up to the gift shop counter in the background to be "customers #2" but I was too busy watching them and forgot to get a picture of them in action.


Afterwards, Rachel wanted to fight Daddy like she had watched the other dad do with his son.  She was so happy when he took the challenge.


What an amazingly fun day!  We'll be back tomorrow for a few more hours of shooting.