Photo shows an array of glass art.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile it’s not as glamorous as glassblowing, the finishing process to making glass art — known in the industry as cold-working — is every bit as important for artists to master.

Ball State students are perfecting their cold-working techniques with help from visiting Polish glass artist Marzena Krzeminska-Baluch. The educator from Poland’s Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design, Krzeminska-Baluch is spending the 2015-16 academic year leading courses in kiln casting and cold-working at The Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass.

“American students amaze me,” she said. “They want to experiment right away, trying to explore their own paths as artists through the secrets and surprises of glass.”

Dylan Martinez works on a glass ornament.

Dylan Martinez, a graduate student studying glassmaking at Ball State, works on an ornament that helped fund his trip to study glassblowing techniques in Poland this May.

In Poland, most glass artists specialize in kiln casting, cold-working and design. Using water-lubricated pads, blades and spining wheels, cold-working involves grinding, blasting, carving, etching and polishing glass into finished pieces of art.

It’s wet, slow work — and Krzeminska-Baluch’s specialty. “It takes a lot longer and requires quite a bit of patience,” she said. “A lot of artists hate it, but I love it.”

In May, a group of Ball State students will spend two weeks with her at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy before embarking on field trips to glass factories across the Czech Republic, a country famous for its fine art glass.

Second-year graduate student Dylan Martinez sees multiple opportunities. “It’s my first time to Europe, and I’m excited to go. Cold-working is a skillset that’s harder to pick up in America, but while we’re there, we’ll meet with more artists like Marzena who specialize in it.”

To help cover the trip’s costs, Martinez and other students sold ornaments and other glass artworks they created. “It’s a good experience for them,” Krzeminska-Baluch said. “As artists, they’ll have to support themselves through their work, and auctions and sales afford them a peek into what’s in store for the future.”

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