If it weren't for a lucky break, Jake Arnett may have returned to his alma mater for an entirely different demonstration.
"I really got lucky as a freshman," Arnett said as he recalled how he got involved with the glass blowing program at Hastings College. "In passing, I overhead someone saying they were dropping the glassblowing class."
It was a class Arnett had tried to get in, but because of its popularity, incoming freshmen didn't often get their chance right away.
But, after overhearing that conversation between two other students, Arnett didn't waste a minute.
"I went straight to my advisor and took their spot," he said. "I totally fell in love with glassblowing and I've been doing it ever since."
Had he not gotten into the class, Arnett said he would have taken a ceramics class instead.
Those he loved it, art wasn't Arnett's first choice for a major when he began attending Hastings College after graduating from Arlington High School in 2015.
"I started out as a computer science major, but I knew the first day of calculus class that wasn't going to work out for me," Arnett said.
So, he started looking for a new major.
"I really liked philosophy, so I was a philosophy major and then, it became really evident by sophomore year when I was studying glassblowing that art was for me," he said.
As part of his studies, Arnett got involved with the Hastings College Mobile Glass Studio, which travels to high schools across the region. Arnett helped set up the studio for school visits, but until last week, he had never been part of a demonstration on the road.
So, what better place to make his road debut than where his love of art began. Arnett joined Michael Beahm, Hastings College studio arts instructor, for a glass blowing demonstration as part of the Arlington High School Art Show on Wednesday.
"It's really cool to be able to bring this," Arnett said.
He may love it now, but Arnett said his introduction to glass blowing was tough.
"It was so difficult, so I started researching how to do it better and that's what sealed it," he said. "It was a challenge and I'm one of those people who likes to be challenged."
Beahm and Arnett took turns demonstrating their glass blowing skills to students from Nebraska Capitol Conference schools Arlington, Fort Calhoun, Ashland-Greenwood, DC West, Fort Calhoun, Platteview, Raymond Central and Wahoo.
Beahm said Hasting's glass studio and mobile glass studio are about three years old.
"Inside the trailer is a glass furnace that holds about 60 pounds of clear, colorless glass and its 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit," he said. "All the glass sits in a big ceramic bowl, much like one sits in a pot."
In starting out his demonstration, Arnett collected glass on the end of a hollow, stainless steel blow pipe, which Beahm said is like a big, metal straw.
"He's going to submerge the end of the pole underneath the surface of the glass and wind the pole and spool all the material he needs."
Turning the glass the entire time, he shapes the material using various tools, including a wood scoop called a block. He also blows through the metal rod to expand the glass and then shapes it using a stack of wet newspapers.
"It's as close as we can get to shape the glass with our bare hands," he said. "It never gets much hotter than a cup of coffee," Beahm said.
After several minutes, and with help from Beahm, Arnett released what had become a glass cup from the rod.
"I love being able to show people this magnificent material," said Arnett, who has also given demonstrations to students visiting Hastings College.
But, he loved being able to return home, he said.
"It's challenging to make conceptual glass art," he said. "It's both the difficulty, but also the teamwork that we use that I like," he said. "Ive gotten to work with some world-class artists and professional teams and have been all over the place."
Arnett will graduate from Hastings next month. He plans to attend grad school in hopes of one day teaching at a college or maybe even high school.
Art show medal winners
Last week's Arlington High Art Show featured work from students from Nebraska Capitol Conference schools in Arlington, Fort Calhoun, Ashland-Greenwood, DC West, Fort Calhoun, Platteview, Raymond Central and Wahoo.
Each school was allowed up to 75 entries, Arlington art teacher Erin Schaapveld said. Categories included pencil drawings, black and white in any medium except pencil, colored drawing, watercolor, acrylic/tempera/oil, mixed media/collage, sculpture, printmaking, clay, photography/digital art/graphics and miscellaneous.
In addition to ribbons awarded to the top 60 percent in each category, there were student's choice, people's choice teacher's choice awards handed. An Outstanding School Artist award was also given to one student from each school.
Award winners were:
Outstanding Artists: Allison Peyton, Arlington; Evelyn Holmstedt, Fort Calhoun; Elly Larson, Wahoo; Felicity Ramsey, Raymond Central; Kiyera Grosz, Platteview; Alex Poore, DC West; Clara Urwin, Ashland-Greenwood.
Judges' Best of Show: Chloe Hoffschneider, Arlington.
Judges' Honorable Mention: Micheala Neben, Ashland-Greenwood; Chloe Hoffschneider, Arlington.
People's Choice: Chloe Hoffschneider, Arlington.
Student's Choice: Chloe Hoffschneider, Arlington.