Glass Fest turns up the heat in Corning

By Matt Porter

May 24, 2013 Updated May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM EDT

Corning, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Not many can say they work around a 5,000 degree flame, but for Corning Museum Glass Blower Eric Goldschmidt, he loves nothing more than to turn up the heat.

"The heat is everything really," Goldschmidt said, "The two most important tools we have are heat and gravity."

He was demonstrating flameworking, which requires a flame that can expand to more than a foot that's used to melt hardened glass.

He works barehanded to give him more dexterity while rotating his projects in the flame. Goldschmidt said he's been nicked over the years.

"I may never be a hand model," he said, "But I'm doing okay."

Goldschmidt has been turning sand into glass art for 17 years, he's been a demonstrator for the Corning Museum of Glass for five.

"The process just can't be beat," he said. "To actually start with sand, apply some heat and next thing you know, you can turn it into any object imaginable."

Gaffers, or glass blowers, use heat and air to mold glass.

Even today, most decorative glass pieces can only be made by hand.

"A lot of people see these glass objects all around them in their lives and don't understand the level of craftsmanship that goes into them," Goldschmidt said.

That's why the city of Corning, home to Corning Glass, takes one weekend to celebrate the industry.

The Executive Director of Corning's Gaffer District Coleen Fabrizi said it's also a celebration of the place known as the Crystal City.

"This isn't a festival completely about glass," Fabrizi said. "It's about an incredible city that was created because of a company that decided to settle here."

For gaffers like Goldschmidt, getting the public into glass is great.

"You can't beat sharing what you have a passion for and springing that light on them as well," he said.

The Corning Glass Fest will continue through May 26. The full schedule can be viewed at the Glass Fest website.