The furnace is off, and the next chapter begins for the Iowa State University Gaffer’s Guild. They shut down the Sweeney Hall Glass Studio for the last time at 1:36 a.m. on Tuesday, November 29, 2016. The glass studio has been operating in 1334 Sweeney Hall since April 29, 2000.
The Gaffer’s Guild is led by adviser, Dr. Steve Martin, Distinguished Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and student president, Samantha Handrock, senior in Civil Engineering. They celebrated the closing evening with food, fellowship and glass forming. Each participant formed various styles of paperweights and cherished the last hours in a space that was used and loved by many to create glass art and lasting friendships.
After sixteen years, the Gaffer’s Guild “closed up shop” and now awaits the arrival of their new studio that will be located in the Student Innovation Center that is to be built and completed by spring 2020.
The Student Innovation Center will replace the Nuclear Engineering building and the glass studio. It will be located in the green space north of Hoover Hall on Bissell Road and will feature additions that allow the studio to be a more usable space. It will include one lab area and a separate storage space, plus a better-designed layout that includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Because there will not be a glass studio on campus for the next three years, the Gaffer’s Guild focus will be maintaining club vitality and involvement with organized trips to other glass studios near Ames.
The Iowa State University Gaffer’s Guild is a student organization that has an average of 40 active members in addition to 16 students that take the beginner class each semester taught by experienced volunteer club members. The goal of the club is to teach other students basic skills and safety of glass blowing with hopes that each participant develops these skills over time.
“My favorite part of the club is the people in it. It’s a great community where you can learn something different from each person because everyone has a different skill set and a different glass piece they make often. Those people have all learned from others who also have different skill sets and ways of doing things,” said Handrock.
The group of 40 Gaffer’s Guild members eagerly melted neodymium in the furnaces on their last night in the studio. The 500 grams of 90% purity neodymium oxide powder was donated by the Materials Preparation Center at Ames Laboratory. It was a special gift because neodymium is relatively expensive, and the color changes from blue to purple depending on reflecting incandescent or fluorescent light. The participants created 75 pieces throughout their final night in the studio.
The Gaffer’s Guild student artists, president and Steve Martin, presented Dr. Adam Schwartz and Dr. Thomas Lograsso with a glass paperweight made by Steven Kmiec and a vase made by Keith Kutz as a gift of thanks to Ames Lab for the special donation.
After 16 memorable years, the Gaffer’s Guild looks forward to the completion of their new glass studio to continue the art of glass blowing on the Iowa State campus.