Hostess City Hot Glass making glass blowing cool

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 11:26 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Glass blowing can be hot, hard work. So how does Ronald Martinez make it fun for people who don’t now anything about it?

By sharing the passion he discovered for the craft 25 years ago in hands-on glass-making classes where it’s ok if imperfections find their way into the final product.

Ronald Martinez is trying to make glass blowing cool in one of the hottest buildings in Savannah.

“That furnace is running at 2,160 degrees. We also have the reheating chamber, which is hotter, so about 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 glass-blowing classes where the final product becomes something to look at and not just look through.

“I’m just given the opportunity to share all the experience that I have and have them in here, hands on and doing it. When we start the class, it’s always remember why you did it in the first place. Have fun first. It’s not focused on how it turns out, but we’re selling the process.”

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

“First, we’ve got to gather the glass from the furnace. and when that happens, I pass it to the individual and they start to put the color in and then we’re going to go to that reheating chamber and we’re going to melt that all in. The next step will be shaping, using the tools, take it off to put it on that oven to slowly cool down when you’re done with your project to about room temperature in that 12 to 16 hour range depending on what it is.”

Martinez discovered the craft he calls magical in college, through a class he took while on a baseball scholarship at Washington State University.

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

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

“Like every Georgia boy’s dream, you want to get out and see the world. And, of course, the Georgia boy curse that gets you back home - 100 percent of us.”

And Martinez wants his shop to be part of his hometown. He moved from a more remote location to Montgomery Street at the beginning of the 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 class. You can come in and sit on a bench and watch us all day.

And maybe discover the allure of glass making that Martinez found in college.

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

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

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