There may not be a glassblowing shop on campus, but there may soon be a club devoted to it.
Second-year business economics student Malia Zoraster recently submitted the application for a Metal and Glass Club at UCLA. While the club would include both disciplines, a major aspect of the focus will be placed on creating jewelry from metal wire. Zoraster said the club will meet at workshops on campus and carpool to locations off campus to make the glassblowing and metalworking – which require equipment and space – more accessible to students.
“I thought it would be really cool to create a community of people who don’t necessarily have to have experience, but a community of people interested in (glass and metal),” Zoraster said.
Although the university no longer has a glassblower employed on campus, Zoraster said her club will still include the skill by going through businesses. Currently employed at KT Glassworks under glassblower Kazuki Takizawa, Zoraster said she’s working to get group discount ratings. She and her friends also attend free demos at a glass shop in El Segundo on occasion, and members willing to pay for transportation will be encouraged to join them.
Alina Giapis, a co-signer for the club, said students in the Metal and Glass Club will attempt to meet every week. On an alternating basis, they will attend off-campus classes and demos one week and form metal wire with pliers on campus during the other. The second-year undeclared student said meetings will be available at a beginner level for anyone interested. They will explain the uses of different types of tools, such as round nose pliers, which make rounder, smoother metal wires than flat nose pliers, she said.
“I think (the club) would start off with explaining the different sizes of wire and how the tools work, then letting members test it out themselves,” she said. “It’s all trial and error, that’s how my first few wire bending sessions went, and it just has to go from there.”
An enclosed campus space is essential to the Metal and Glass Club, Giapis said, because participants will mold thin wires with multiple different types of pliers. She recently attended an embroidery session outdoors where she said many students lost their needles in the grass – and losing materials is not on the new club’s agenda.
The club is working toward partnering with UCLA MakerSpace in Rieber Hall, Zoraster said, as the location and the workshops it hosts are meant to foster the arts. Club member Judy Vallette, a second-year pre-global studies student, said the MakerSpace is typically a bit more STEM oriented. But it has recently incorporated more general features such as a T-shirt press, and she said she hopes the club will be a part of that growth.
At the club meetings, Zoraster said they will cover safety measures through basic shaping. With her experience as a teaching assistant at work, Zoraster said she will be able to give members thorough knowledge on how to safely take part in the crafts. For example, she said she would teach students how to handle the metal rod – or punty – while glassblowing, so they aren’t tempted to grab the hot glass.
“(Zoraster) is proficient in (glassblowing and wire bending), and when she was teaching me, she showed me how to do it properly,” Vallette said. “We want to make sure everyone who comes to the club is safe but also learning and having fun.”
Outside of regular meetings, she said she hopes to partner and collaborate with other clubs. These off-campus activities would include events like beach cleanups alongside eco-friendly clubs, and Vallette said members will then use what they collected to create jewelry.
“Making jewelry out of recyclable stuff or even trash – I’ve done that before – is a lot of fun, and if you actually get to see where the trash comes from that you’re making something beautiful out of, that brings doing good and making art together,” Giapis said.
And while Zoraster will be doing much of the teaching, she said she wants other members to teach lessons on their own creative interests, fostering her vision of an artistic community. She said she looks forward to letting people express themselves creatively through the club.
“The club would be primarily on glass and metal, but I’d be open to other art too,” she said. “Anybody can join, you don’t need any experience. There’s something special about making something with your own hands.”