There are design reality shows and there are interior decor contests, and then there’s Blown Away. Mark our words, this one is bound to do just that — completely blow you away! For, here glass blowers compete against each other to huff and puff and sculpt and shape the most unique and exciting creations ever. Something never seen before on television ever. Sure, many of us have seen glass blowers at work on tourist trips to Venice and Murano. We’ve even seen documentaries on this, but the atmospherics, the action and the drama here are quite something else.
If anything, it makes all the other fashion, interiors, cookery, pottery and gardening contests pale in comparison. The format is pretty much the same — contestants are given a theme in each episode to create a piece that fits it. There’s a winner and there’s a loser, with the losing one getting eliminated while the rest survive to fight another day. This goes on till there are the last two standing and one wins the finale. The similarity ends there, though. For, unlike the pretty-pretty sets of the other shows, this one is the exact opposite. A hot, dark and cavernous warehouse filled with fire, smoke and the smell of sweat!
But somehow, you forget all that as you watch. The sets cease to matter as you watch the creative magic unfold. Playing with fire as stunning compositions emerge from the smoke, 10 professionals (mostly from Canada and America) battle it out for one grand prize. At stake is a trophy, Best in Glass, and a prize package worth $60,000, including an artist residency at the famous Corning Museum of Glass, New York.
Located just outside Toronto, the producers claim it’s the largest hot shop in North America, a facility that was custom-built to accommodate 10 glass blowers working simultaneously. As the camera goes from one contestant to the other, you get to see the process in its entirety as the molten liquid takes incredible shapes. Called the “extreme sport” of the art world, it calls for not just extreme skill, but extreme strength and stamina as well. Just think of the conditions under which they work, and yet emerge with things of utmost beauty.
A word for the show’s affable presenter, Nick Uhas (a YouTube science content maker), and its resident evaluator, Katherine Gray (a glass artist and associate art professor at California State University). Both keep the tempo going over Season 1 and Season 2, both of which we binge-watched in one go.
You do that too, and see for yourselves the glories of glass.
Executive producers: Mark JW Bishop, Matt Hornburg