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Inked Professionals: The Glass Blower

For those of us that hear “blowing glass” and automatically think of something Jesse Pinkman would partake in on Breaking Bad, we are in for a big surprise. Erin Krehel, lead glass blower at Hot Sand in Asbury Park NJ, shared with what it really means to be a glass blower.

Krehel, who was captivated after her first rendezvous with glass, was ecstatic to be able to call glass blowing her career. “What makes it fun is the danger and uniqueness. I get to play with a substance that is 2100 degrees everyday. How many people get to say that? And if I disrespect it…as beautiful she is, glass can be a fickle bitch” says Krehel.

As resident glass artist and workshop instructor, the hardest part about teaching someone the art of glassblowing “is probably that you’re dealing with temperature and gravity. You only have a small window of time to manipulate the glass before it solidifies,” she says. “Also you have to keep the glass moving, otherwise it will fall off center or even to the ground.”

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Though Krehel loves the step-by-step process of making glass art, she admits that her favorite part is when the piece is complete. “Throughout the whole process a number of things can go wrong, especially at the end. There’s that point where it pops off (called the punty) where I kind of hold my breath and pray to the glass gods that it will make it to the oven. Sounds silly, but I think a lot of glass artists feel the same.”

One of the most difficult pieces she has ever made, also her favorite, is of a monster. “It included everything I love about glass art; danger, silliness, creativity and teamwork,” says Krehel. Keeping a sense of humor, she hopes her viewers appreciate the hard work, and the silliness that goes into her pieces. “In the end I hope they get a kick out of my creations and laugh,” she says.

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Much like tattooing, different colors are harder to work with than others. “What we call “cool” colors like whites, yellows, oranges and reds are stiff colors. These colors take longer to heat and have a short time to work with. Then we have “hot” colors like blacks, blues, and dark greens. These colors heat super fast and retain the heat longer. Since they heat and cool so differently, things get interesting when they’re used together,” she explains.

Krehel once pondered a career tattooing, but decided the pressure of screwing up, was too much for her. Her interest in tattoos started from a young age, “I found a photo of my grandmother in some old western. Burlesque clothes when I was in middle school. I knew then I would get that photo as a tattoo,” Krehel recalls. ���It is now on my left inner forearm.”

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After years of searching for a tattoo artist she was comfortable with Vinny at Broken Heart Tattoo, in Keyport NJ, is her go to guy. “He is a fantastically talented artist. I love his style and technique. When I came to him with my Starry Night half sleeve I let him have fun with it. It was free hand and all up to him” say Krehel.

She has infinite plans for future tattoos. “I would like to have my feet done with Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman, the old Universal characters, and I’ve also planned on getting ‘all my favorite things’ on my right arm” Krehel says. She’s already kick started her favorite things sleeve with a Tillie face from a fundraiser for Sandy charities.

Perks of heading over to Hot Sand and learning to blow some glass with Krehel, include being able to admire her art (tattoos and glass) and a free beer when you blow your own drinking cup. Sounds like a good deal to us.

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