I’ve been taking glass arts for at least three years, and I’m an active member in my art department. I’m not highly skilled at working with glass, but at the very least, I know how the basic equipment works. I also know how some of the more “advanced” equipment works too, if you can believe that, given my gender.
Today I was in the shop, in part because another friend (also female) had a big collaborative project that was going to require a lot of extra hands. I helped her organize her kiln space, had an extensive conversation with her about her annealing cycle (the process that prevents your glass from cracking as it cools down), and offered a lot of other suggestions as to how to make the project go smoothly. For the most part, the other advanced students agreed with me.
A guy I’d never seen in there before must not have been paying attention. One of my other friends was making cute animals out of furnace glass, and I immediately claimed it.
“Sure, as long as you don’t mind that it’s probably going to explode.”
“Throw it in the damn annealer!” I responded. You know. So the glass doesn’t crack as it cools down. This is very basic as far as working with hot glass is concerned.
“Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea!”
The aforementioned guy who, in my three years there, I had never seen before, targets me specifically and says, very condescendingly, “You have to put glass in the annealer so it doesn’t explode!”
Admittedly, I was taken quite aback. After a few awkward seconds, I managed, “I know how the annealer works.” I had, after all, just suggested to a friend that he should USE IT.
Unfazed, he continued. “You have to cool glass down slowly or it will crack-“
I cut him off, “-because it’s highly susceptible to thermal shock and as the outside cools down faster, the tension causes it to fragment, and, in extreme cases, explode. I know how the damn annealer works.”
It didn’t do the trick. He proceeded to explain to me for another 10 minutes about different kiln cycles, how different types of glass have different coefficients of expansion, and how that means you can only load a kiln with like types of glass. This is all stuff I learned my first semester. Eventually, it was time to start the project, which is good, because my temper wasn’t annealing well.
In his defense, I told myself a lot of the glass students earn street cred by one-upping each other with technical knowledge, so I figured he was just new and excitable. I found out a few hours later he hasn’t ever taken a glass arts class, he’s just roommates with another one of the beginning students.
Actually, given that most of the students are historically male, maybe glass doesn’t like mainsplaining either?