Hostess City Hot Glass makes blown glass cool

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) — Glassblowing can be intense and difficult work. So how does Ronald Martinez make it fun for people who don’t know anything about it?

By sharing the passion he discovered for the craft 25 years ago in hands-on glassmaking classes where it is normal for imperfections to be found in the final product.

Ronald Martinez tries to cool the blown glass in one of the hottest buildings in Savannah.

“This oven operates at 2,160 degrees. We also have the reheat chamber, which is hotter, so around 2,250 degrees,” said Ronald Martinez, owner of Hostess City Hot Glass.

Martinez makes glass in a studio in downtown Savannah. And he also teaches others how to make it, in glassblowing classes where the end product becomes something to look at and not just look through.

“I just have the opportunity to share all the experience that I have and have them here, on the job and doing it. When we start the course, we always remember why you did it in the first place. Have fun first. It’s not about how it happens, but we’re selling the process.

And the process is both hundreds of years old and new to most people.

“First, we have to get the glass from the kiln. and when that happens I pass it to the individual and they start putting the color on and then we’re going to go into this reheat chamber and we’re going to melt all of that. The next step will be to shape, use the tools, remove it to put it on this oven to slowly cool when you’re done with your project to about room temperature in that 12-16 hour range depending on what it is.

Martinez learned about the craft he calls magic in college, thanks to a course he took while a baseball scholarship at Washington State University.

“It was an elective I got hooked on and the next thing you know, I ended up traveling all over the place because of it.”

But after 20 years on the West Coast, the Savannah native surprised himself by deciding to return home.

“As every Georgian boy’s dream, you want to get out and see the world. And, of course, the curse of the Georgian boy who brings you home – 100% of us.

And Martinez wants his shop to be part of his hometown. He moved from a more distant location to Montgomery Street earlier this year – for more space. And to be more accessible.

“When the doors are open. you can come in. You don’t have to take a course. You can come in and sit on a bench and watch us all day.

And maybe experience the lure of glassmaking that Martinez discovered in college.

“Every time I touch it, it excites me. Every time I sit down and teach people, the same reaction they have the first time is the same as I had the first time I I saw it, what is glass to me? It’s like a beautiful woman. You don’t have to put makeup on them. It’s just like that, the more simplistic they are, and the way whose light passes through them, to me, that’s what glass is.

Some of Martinez’s work is on display until the end of the month in the Savannah Series art exhibition at the Grand Bohemian Gallery.

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