By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Burning furnaces filled with molten hot glass ready to be shaped into custom mugs await customers at the Glass Academy, 25331 Trowbridge.
Glass blowers at the academy help bring the drawings and visions of customers to life with their work.
Academy glass blower Brent Swanson explained the process as he created a a mug for customer Jalil Kizy of Detroit during a Dec. 10 class.
“We begin by gathering molded glass from the furnace, which is kept at 2,000 degrees with a preheated pipe,” Swanson said. “Then we shape the mug with tools and open the top of the piece of glass.”
After the glass is molded into shape, Swanson customizes the color and design of the mug to meet the customer’s design.
“During the process we keep the mug at 1,000 to 1,500 degrees so it doesn’t crack,” he said. “Once the mug is finished, it is placed into a 1,000-degree oven for 12 hours to slowly cool down.”
It can take anywhere from 48 hours to 72 hours total for the mug to cool down before customers return to to pick it up.
Kizy participated in the Dec. 10 class to create his mug as a birthday present from his sister. He explained his mug design as texture-oriented with red and black colors in mind.
“I used to make glass beads in high school, so I have always been interested in glass in general,” Kizy said. “I saw the Glass Academy at the Renaissance Festival and thought it was really cool.”
Dearborn Heights resident Phyllis Hunt was back at the Glass Academy to have another University of Michigan-inspired mug made. She was ready with photos of her desired maize and blue mug.
“I had a mug made earlier this year and thought it was time to add another one to my collection,” she said. “I love watching the glass blowers take mug designs and bring them to life.”
Artists Chris Nordin and Michelle Plucinsky founded Furnace Hot Glass Works, before the name was changed to Furnace Design Studio and the current Glass Academy name.
Custom Mug Night is held every other Thursday at the business where the opportunity to commission a mug or pilsner glass is offered for cold beverage use only.
Mugs or pilsner classes are offered to customers 18 years and older or 16 and 17 year olds with a consent form signed by a parent.
Basic mugs start at $150 each, with the ability to add features or upgrade the design chosen.
Each class has a six-person limit where customers can share ideas for mug designs including colors, shapes, themes or personal hobbies.
The Glass Academy has been in the 14,000-square-foot facility since its move from Detroit in 2005.
The facility houses a gallery, grinding room, sandblasting area, metal shop, conference room and space for projects ordered by customers.
For more information on the Glass Academy call 313-5614127 or go to glassacademy.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at email@example.com)