Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Max Hayes Blows Glass.

"I keep looking at your blog, and I see you haven't been writing."

"You know, I've been starting to go back into your archives to read some of your old stories, since there's nothing new."

"When are you going to post our pictures? You promised us you would put them online weeks ago."

Thank you my friends, students, and readers for gently nudging, reminding, and finally out and out nagging me. You make me feel wanted.
I've been neglecting this blog for more than a few weeks, and I beg your forgiveness, but honestly, I have been busy.

The school year is flying by, and the Max Hayes Art Club, especially, has been having a lot of fun this winter.
From paint to pastels to play-dough, my students experimented with new techniques for classic materials and also reacquainted themselves with a sticky medium from their not-so-distant childhoods.

But as much as the kids enjoyed working in the studio at school, the real highlight of the past month was our trip to The Glass Studio on Superior Avenue one cold afternoon in February.

For the second year in a row, glass artist Mike Zelenka invited interested art students to learn glass blowing at the studio where he works in Cleveland's Mid-Town neighborhood. For many years prior, Mike demonstrated the ancient craft to visitors at Hale Farm and Village. These days, he and his colleagues teach classes and create beautiful works of art at their facility behind the Tyler building at East 30th and Superior.

Mike became part of the Max Hayes family last year, when he took over the Phys. Ed. classes while the former instructor was on an extended leave of absence. An athlete a well as an artist, he also coaches the school's tennis team. Last year Mike raised money for the team with a silent auction of art glass which he and several other artists donated to the school.

The students watched in wide-eyed amazement as Mike dipped a long metal pipe into a pot of glowing molten glass, and proceeded to blow a bubble as thin as cellophane and fragile as soap, that shattered into a thousand pieces with the slightest touch.

The next red hot glob became a bowl as he showed the students how the glass responded to centrifugal force.

Blowing glass transcends the typical art lesson to become a fully integrated experience; combining physics and chemistry with creativity, visual problem solving, and aesthetics.

Each student in our small group was able to take a turn creating their own glass piece. Step by step, one at a time, Mike talked them through the process. By the end of our visit, five colorful paper weights were slowly cooling in the annealer.

People spend an awful lot of time in schools sitting through lectures, copying information, memorizing lists, and regurgitating facts... and after just a few short years, the majority of that information (or at least the stuff we don't need to use or think about) is forgotten, or sent to the brain's biological version of the cyber-trash bin and buried.

The learning that sticks with a person for a lifetime are often experiences outside the classroom, like those my students had at the Glass Studio this winter. It's kind of ironic, the things I volunteer to do on my own time will probably have a greater positive impact on my student's lives than the mandated curriculum I am hired to teach.

Experiential learning is by far the most effective learning method. The phrase is becoming my mantra.

Many thanks to the generous folks at the Superior Glass Studio for welcoming the Max Hayes Art Club, and a very heartfelt Thank You to Mike Zelenka for sharing his knowledge, skill, and passion.
The Cleveland arts community is the BEST!

Check the sidebar for a slide show of more pictures.

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pedro-fabian said...

yeah most if not all of those quotes were mine........................you know what miss you should post some of our art work here too..that'll be soo coool yes definitely thats what you should do!!

marybeth said...


It's true you are quite a nag, but that title is not yours exclusively, some of your teachers also give me gentle reminders, and I have a quite a few readers from all over the world who correspond with me too. However, you are the one who constantly reminds me to put your photos on line.
I do take pictures of the projects we do in class. I like your idea about posting them. Perhaps I will include a slide-show of student work in the sidebar.

pedro-fabian said...

see miss i am smart(sometimes).........u should listen to me more or atleast attempt to.......lol

Anonymous said...

Outstanding! For me, glasswork is one of the most amazing means of expression.. there's always a pleasent suprise in the finished work.
Cleveland, this is for you...

John Ettorre said...

Taking a break from it (as I also did recently for 6 weeks) is good for the soul, MB. It's also good to hear from lots of readers who remind you you're missed. That ultimately helps get you going again.

Elisa said...

some of your pictures are really interesting! i like them...

Vale said...

Keep wrinting please!! I really like your writing style!! it'always a pleasure to read your posts!!