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Glass for beginners: Part 2 (finding the best way to learn)

Many people get hooked by the magic of glass (especially glass fusing, stained glass or glass blowing) from a half day or one day workshop that was gifted to them as a present. There is so much to learn and so many different types of glass art to consider - not to mention the types of glass itself and the techniques within each category! It can be a little overwhelming but here I suggest ways that will help you learn with maximum effect and with less risk of costly errors.

In-person courses:

One good way (to learn, and also to understand which equipment you really need to buy) is to sign up to a short course in glass somewhere local because it means you have access to teaching at the right level and the chance to use all the equipment that you’ll need for initial projects without investing too much at the beginning. Why?

· It gives you the chance to decide whether you prefer one type of glass art over another (and no knowledge is wasted – your learnings from one type of glass art will come in handy in another type of glass art).

· A good teacher can really help you, to not only follow a project, but to understand what the essentials parts of the project are, and how you can play with those parameters to experiment successfully.

· You’ll be able to anticipate outcomes more effectively and understand potentially why something went wrong when you aren’t in a class

· You’ll be able to ask questions that are relevant to your set-up, level of experience and learn from others

Online courses:

If there aren’t any local glass art courses, or its difficult for you to physically get to a course, then an online course can be a good alternative but online teaching is most effective if you have access to a kiln to be able to practice in between sessions. There are many excellent online courses where the teacher can charge a lower price that’s incredibly good value because of the numbers of people on the online course.

Mainly self-led learning:

You may have access to a kiln and use books / online materials to gain experience and knowledge but I would still recommend taking a short course because it gives a more solid basis to your knowledge that will help avoid some potentially expensive mistakes (either in time or money). While online glass forums (such as those on Facebook) can be reassuring to join, there are often comments and advice that can give a beginner more misleading or contradictory information than they’d like!

Even if you don’t think you are a complete beginner you may be surprised by the value of the tips in a beginner class which make a massive difference to your artwork – maybe less glass wastage, higher quality pieces, greater satisfaction in your hobby/artwork.

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