There are a plethora of competition shows on television. Some involve folks racing around Canada, while others feature people cooking intricate recipes. Even more spotlight everyday Canadians making clothing or living together in the same abode for weeks on end. I thought I had seen everything the competition genre had to offer.
And then came Blown Away.
Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Makefulâ€”during the specialty network’s free previewâ€”Blown Away pits 10 professional glass blowers against one another. The grand prize? A residency at the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York. It’s one heck of an interesting twist on the reality genre and, from the get-go, a lot of fun to watch.
According to Blown Away‘s host,Â YouTube star Nick Uhas, glass blowing dates back to Roman times. Not a lot has changed since then: a furnace is heated to thousands of degrees and a gob of molten glass is attached to a tube. Once affixed, air is blown into the blob, which expands. But Blown Away isn’t about who makes the roundest sphere of glass. It’s about intricacy and creativity. The setâ€”called “The Hot Shop”â€”is expansive and there are obvious safety issues here. High temperatures and working with glass means there is always a chance someone could get hurt. I imagine the producers, marblemedia, had cartons and Band-Aids and pump bottles of Polysporin at the ready.
The 10 competitors vying for the title, and $60,000 US, are a mixture of glass artists, visual artists, sculptural artists and people who worked in the medium in their pasts. Aside from the competition itself, Blown Away is an education into the glass blowing industry for a newbie like me. The job of different tools,Â punties, annealers andâ€”ahemâ€”personal glory holes are all explained along the way, as is the science and timing involved in adding colour to glass and the myriad ways to shape it. Gravity, heat and cold all play important parts too.
In Wednesdays debut, the competitors are tasked with using six hours to create something that is a snapshot of who they are. For 22-year-old Edgar, that means showing how small we really are in this world. For Kevin, it’s recreating a surfing experience and the calm he feels doing that. ForÂ Momo, it’s thanking those who have helped her on her life journey with a classic glass piece. With renowned glass blower Katherine Gray as the show’s resident judge, alongside guest judge Chris Taylor, executive director at Pilchuck Glass School, the 10 present their creations.
The direction, camera work and cinematography is top-notch on Blown Away. Glowing furnaces and dancing sparks are contrasted by the inner glow of molten glass, and the gleamÂ of a sweaty arm or a finished piece of art. It’s a truly visual, educational and inspiring series I can’t wait to see more of.
Blown Away airs Wednesdays t 9 p.m. ET/PT on Makeful.
Images courtesy of Blue Ant Media.