Glass blowing hitter showcases artistic talents

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By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

In an offshoot of a Pulliam hallway, tucked away behind big blue doors sits a glowing red hot oven. 

Saluki volleyball’s leading hitter, sophomore Andrea Estrada, spends almost as much time in that hallway as she does in Davies Gym. As an art history and philosophy major, Estrada needed to complete a studio requirement, and the Glass Survey course caught her attention. 

The students meet to work on their projects twice per week. Since the class is open to all majors, studio time outside of class is rare.

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When SIU volleyball travels to away matches, the team often leaves Thursday after classes, so Estrada has to finish her projects during her studio time, which she hasn’t had problems doing. She has earned A’s on her two projects this semester. 

After breaking, shaping, melting and polishing glass into sunken designs for her first two projects, Estrada is now creating a three-dimensional candle lamp.

The difficulty to working with glass is the fragility of the material Estrada said. If the proper technique is not used then the project will shatter and the artist will have to start from scratch.

Her first project involved sandblasting an already made project. The sandblasting added white tones to the glass by adding texture to the material.

The majority enrolled in the class are art majors needing to complete a studio credit. The students practice hot glass blowing, cold working and kiln formatting in two studios, said Su Yeon Kim, the course instructor.

Two groups of ten students each split time in the “hot shop” and “cold shop” studios. The hot shop is where students blow and shape the hot glass. They grind and polish glass and attend lectures in the cold shop. 

Estrada said she has most of her troubles in the cold shop when cutting and grinding her projects. 

Early in the volleyball season, Estrada would often go to volleyball graduate assistant trainer Lauren Dieleman with cuts on her fingers needing to be bandaged.

“She must be getting better, because I haven’t had to wrap her fingers up as much recently,” Dieleman said. 

Estrada is leading the Saluki volleyball offense to a 14-7 overall record and a four-way-tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference. She is ranked fourth in the MVC with 3.33 kills per set and also ranked sixth in the conference with 3.71 points per set — with or without cuts on her fingers.

But the dangers of working on glass art does not deter Estrada to continue pursuing more classes within the medium.

“You have to have some background in the arts,” Estrada said. “It’s all for fun — so I’m looking into taking the next class.” 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @EvanJones_DE

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