Was I “Blown Away?”

Glass, Glass Artist, Glass Blowing     If you don’t have Netflix, I am sorry to say that you won’t be able to watch this show. However, if you do, it is certainly worth your time. “Forged in Fire” meets molten glass in this new Netflix original that seems to be heading in the right direction. Although the first episode (no I haven’t watched any others yet) wasn’t quite as satisfying as I would have liked it to be, I’m going attribute that to the large number of contestants that are competing.

    If you are a fan of the hit blade making television show, “Forged in Fire” then you most likely know its format: three rounds where four contestants compete against each other to form the best blade they can in a time limit. As each round progresses, different challenges are presented, knocking off those who can’t meet them or the judges’ standards. Well, ‘Blown Away” follows a similar format except that instead of four competitors, there are ten.

    Wood, Food, Skill, People, IndoorsIn the first episode, the contestants are asked to create a piece that represents them, and the picture that was included with their application to compete on the show. I won’t offer up any spoilers, but the pieces created were a combination of intricate, complex, pretty, and disastrous. It was neat to be able to enjoy the show all while learning about some of the ways people blow glass – although it’s a  little less informative than “Forged in Fire.” [Let’s be honest, after your first episode watching bladesmiths and blacksmiths make beautiful, yet dangerous, pieces of steel, you are pretty sure you can too.] I didn’t learn too much about glass blowing in this episode, but more so about the contestants. I’m hoping that will change as I move forward with the season.

    The judge, Katherine Gray, who is a well-known glass blowing artist within the community, will be with us through the entire season. Just from the first episode, I really enjoy her almost Simon Cowell-esk attitude. One of her evaluations of a contestant was, “It feels like something I would see at a gift shop.” That was it! “Bam! Right in the kisser!” I felt that comment in the chest! Just a huge slap to the face from the artist – although, in his defense, his original piece burst when it got too cold. I’m hoping to see more of that nonchalant brutality as we go forward. You can truly tell that she is very passionate about her work.

    Glass, Broken, Crack, Fracture, BreakOf course, that’s another huge aspect of this show, and this art, that “Forged in Fire” doesn’t quite have. Of course, being a blacksmith, there are ways to ruin metal. Overheating can cause it to burn and spark. A bad quench can cause stress fractures and warping. Dropping it can break the tip or ruin the edge. There are numerous ways that things can go from bad to worse. However, most of them can be dealt with a quick fix in the allotted time. However, on “Blown Away,” glass shatters, and I mean in a real and explosive way.

Even in the first episode, there were some issues with the contestant’s work facing such tragedies, and I almost feel like I may continue watching, not only for the beauty and mystery that is glass blowing but for that last-minute stretch where everything comes crashing down and shatters at your feet. I felt instant shock for each contestant when that oh too familiar sound echoed throughout the “Hot Shop” where they are performing.

    Although “Blown Away” didn’t quite blow me away, I was pleased with the concept and I will certainly be tuning into the rest of the season to watch how a mixture of sand, lime, and soda powder can be turned, and turned, and turned, and turned again into beautiful vases and sculptures. It seems like Netflix might have found a great show in the making. If not careful, folks may be paying more attention to “Blown Away” than “Forged in Fire.”


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