Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

August 16, 2014 at 9:11am

Museum of Glass sets up Hot Shop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion

Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz work on a piece of glass art as part of the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program put on by the Museum of Glass. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Working with 4,500 degrees of blue flame can be therapeutic.

"This is a great program," explained Lt. Col. Jeff Mosso, commander, Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). "We are the only WTB in the country to have this type of therapy, and this program continues to grow along with our partnership with the Museum of Glass."

Welcome to the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program presented by the Museum of Glass.

Last week, the Tacoma-based museum brought for the first time its Mobile Hot Shop to Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion and set up a portable shop in the unit's courtyard.

Soldiers and their families had the opportunity to watch demonstrations and work with flame and glass in the pursuit of art and healing.

>>> The Museum of Glass' glassblowing program offers JBLM's Wounded Warriors an opportunity for hands-on glassblowing and life skills for transitioning to civilian life. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Who would've thought glass is so malleable," said Sgt. 1st Class James Wolfe as he shaped a glass bead. "I'm looking forward to more classes!"

Unique to the event, several children will be selected to take part in the Museum's Kids Design Glass and watch their drawings be transformed into three dimensional glass sculptures.

The Museum's affiliation with JBLM began about a year ago when artist Dale Chihuly initiated contact through his sponsorship of Military Day at the Museum.

Since then, more than 1,500 soldiers and their families have enjoyed hands-on activities, glassblowing demonstrations and gallery experiences.

"These soldiers are the fastest learning students we've met," said Greg Owen, Hot Shop Heroes program coordinator. "Their focus and direction is very impressive."

The glassblowing program offers soldiers a number of benefits to include improved dexterity, fine motor coordination and core strength.

"The activity here is one of mindfulness and teamwork," explained Erin Carpenter, a recreational therapist with the WTB.

"The soldiers have to focus on one thing at a time, as they work together, much like they do in the military, to create something. They also leave with a sense of accomplishment."

As Carpenter talked, Spc. Jans Ruiz and Staff Sgt. Jose Munoz worked together to shape a piece of molten glass into a Popsicle.

As they turned and sniped away at the glass, they received encouragement from one of the museum's instructors.

"You guys are doing a great job," commented Rich Langley. "This is starting to look really good."

Nearby on a table, Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard drew pictures with the hope of seeing their drawings becoming pieces of art.

"This is a wonderful program for them and for me," commented their father, Master Sgt. Marvin Howard, a wounded warrior. "Just great."

>>> As Master Sgt. Marvin Howard watches, his children Ja'Dirah and Jo'Siah Howard draw pictures that may be created into glass art as part of the Museum of Glass' Hot Shop Heroes: Healing With Fire program. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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