Moana Glass Maui Glassblowing Blow Your Own Glass Art Objects

Updated on:
March 29, 2018

10/12/2021: If a few of these pages look a little wonky, I'm sorry!  I've just rebuilt the site and have over 400 pages left to go through for final fixes.

Up Close Viewing of Glassblowing and Private Lessons to Blow Your Own Glass

Moana Glass is unique among Maui’s glassblowing galleries.  Only here can you both (1) get up close to watch the professional glassblowers, and (2) learn to blow glass and create your own glass art object in just one private lesson.  Moana Glass is at 1000 Limahana Place in Lahaina, phone 808-763-6338. This is the only place you can see glassblowing in the tourist-hotel-condo area of Maui, without driving all the way to Upcountry.

Moana Glass Viewing

At Moana Glass there are frequent demonstrations in which you can stand or sit close to the glass artists, to watch the fascinating methods that they use to create large and small, beautiful, colorful glass objects.  You can watch all the stages of the process, as the professionals start with hot liquid clear glass, adding the colors, heating and reheating, blowing, shaping, decorating and finishing.  Call them to find out when they will be doing their demonstrations during the time you are on Maui.

The glassblowers here make a wide variety of glass pieces that you can enjoy viewing, or you can buy, in this gallery. Objects include lighting fixtures, square cups, stemware, vessels, sculptures, chandeliers, sinks, goblets, and more.  Some of the pieces I have enjoyed viewing in this gallery include whales, waves, bowls, fish, and vessels from small to huge.

Create Your Own Glass Art Piece at Moana Glass

But the most special and unique thing at Moana Glass is the glass blowing lessons, in which you can blow glass and create your own glass art objects. I personally have no artistic talent or abilities or experience.  And yet with the careful guidance of the expert teachers here, in a single, one-on-one, 30-minute class, I had a marvelous time making my own beautiful glass fish. As you will see in the photos and video below, the teacher is with the student every minute, giving detailed instructions, and helping whenever needed. Some of the choices of glass art that you can make under their direction are garden art, floppy bowls, sea floats, or a glass fish sculpture.

Here are the steps I went through to create my own beautiful glass fish (all these steps are shown in the still photos and in the video on this page). I learned how to hold the long metal pole on which I would create my piece. I learned the great importance of always keeping the pole rotating, so that the glass does not pour off or get pulled down by gravity that would misshape it. After I heated the tip of the pole, my teacher dipped it in a tub of hot molten glass and handed the pole back to me to begin.  I chose my colors and dipped the red-hot glass ball into a bin containing the colored chips of glass. Then I heated the ball in the furnace to melt the colors into the clear glass. Next they taught me how to shape and smooth the molten glass ball, using a wet wooden large ladle-like device. Remember to keep turning the pole constantly so that gravity does not pull the ball of glass down. Then it’s time to dip into the furnace holding the glass supply to add another layer of glass to enlarge my red-hot glass ball, followed by more shaping and smoothing with the wet wood ladle. Now the most part after which this whole process is named:  the actual glassblowing.  I blew into the far end of the long metal tube, to blow up my glass ball like a balloon.  The teacher watched the glass enlarge as it filled with air, telling me exactly how long to blow. Then I used a tool that looked like giant tweezers, to squeeze the ball near one end while constantly turning it, thus making an indentation all the way around the glass balloon, to create a smaller section that would become the tail of my fish, plus a small section on the other end where the mouth of the fish will be. Using two flat wooden blocks, I squeezed the two sides of the enlarged air-filled hot glass ball to change my fish sculpture from round to flat. Creating fins was next. For the tail fin, heated the far end of the glass again in the furnace, and then squeezed that end with metal tongs that had ridges as a mold to make radiating fin lines in the tail of the fish. I used pointed metal large tweezers to pull out points on the bottom and top of the newly formed tail fin. To create eyes (one on each side of my now-flattened fish), I held a blowtorch on the area where each eye would go, melting the glass in that spot, and then pressed the tip of the blowtorch against the glass to create the round circle that would be each eye.  (Can you believe they let me handle a blowtorch?) Now the teacher got two small globs of hot molten glass from the supply furnace, placed each one on an edge of the bottom of the fish, and instructed me to squeeze them each with a smaller metal tool that had the mold of radiating lines to decorate these smaller fins. The teacher, the fish and I then moved to a work table where he broke the mouth end of the fish off of the long pole we had been using to handle it all this time.  Then I blow-torched the newly opened mouth end to smooth it, and it was done!  The fish just had to cool off for 24 hours in a cooling furnace.  The next day I had the choice of picking up my completed fish sculpture, or having Moana Glass carefully wrap it and ship it to my home.

I love my glass fish, and think about the great time I had creating it, every time I see it on my shelf at home.

Ryan Staub, the Artist Behind Moana Glass

Ryan Staub is the owner of Moana Glass. He is originally from Seattle, but his glass art is influenced by his travels to many places in the world. He says that is he most influenced by the Venetian tradition of glassblowing, and has worked with several Venetian masters. Ryan says the traditions of glass art can be traced back to ancient Egypt. He works with liquid glass, and the teachers at Moana Glass can show you how to do it too.

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Moana Glass Photos and Video — Creation of a Glass Fish

Moana Glass

See Maui Glass for other glass art galleries and production on Maui.

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