Newark LEAD students learn flameworking skills in Studio Assistant Program

A group of 12 students from LEAD Charter School, an initiative of Newark Opportunity Youth Network, are now flameworkers in training because of the school’s new Studio Assistant Program, led by GlassRoots — a local glass arts education center.

OYN serves as the backbone of the collaborative, which is a collective approach to creating a school-to-workforce pipeline within Newark. According to GlassRoots Executive Director Carol Losos, students will learn the skills and artistry of flameworking in addition to learning how a studio operates in this seven-week program.

“They’ll be creating. They will have products that they finished and a final presentation,” Losos said. “There will also be a public speaking component to it. That’s something we integrate into all of our programs for 16- to 26-year-olds.”

Three of the teachers within the program are GlassRoots alumni. One of the teachers, Richard Paz, started learning about glass artistry when he was only 9 years old and is now studying fine arts at Rutgers University. He led one of the two-hour sessions, which focused on shaping and making “turtles” out of thin glass rods.

“A cool way to teach shaping is by making turtles,” Paz said. “The turtle is just a
round bead, and then you flatten it and then you add a bunch of dots to it. So
everyone got to make their own cool turtles.”

The program started Jan. 26 and the students have been learning “some pretty advanced” shaping and sculpting techniques in addition to studio safety and operations, according to Paz.

“The point of the program is to learn the basics of flameworking and then take those basics and start to construct their own jewelry, which may lead to entrepreneurial opportunities,” he said.

Opportunity Youth Network Chief Program Officer Jasmine Joseph-Forman said: “This what the collaborative is all about, exposing Newark youth to opportunities. We appreciate GlassRoots and other member organizations for walking the walk when it comes to youth workforce development and giving young people a chance to explore diverse postsecondary pathways.”

GlassRoots is currently accepting applications for summer and fall paid internships and also has an opportunity for students to participate in 12-week summer arts training in partnership with Peters Valley School of Crafts.

To learn more about GlassRoots and the various programs and classes offered,
click here.