Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Glass blowing: Day 2

Last night was the second class of glass blowing, and we actually started learning the blowing process. It's not that easy! There's so much to know, and so much to keep track of that having a partner is the only way to do it. I had two awesome partners, as well as our T.A. so I was in great hands!


Glass making dates back to about 3500 years ago in Egypt & Mesopotamia. The first glass vessels were made by forming sheets of glass around a clay core, molding it around a shape and then removing the core after the glass had cooled. Around 50 BC is when glassblowing actually started. At this time, glass was available to common households and was used for more than holding precious ointments or perfumes. It was used to hold water, oils, and other household things, as well as used for making beads and other jewelry items. It was also used for mosaics, in building interior decorative walls and ceilings.


It's an art form that was improved greatly through the ages. As I've been learning in class, you cannot just let glass cool from the starting temperature of 2000 degrees. It needs to cool very gradually, in a kiln, like ceramics. If it cools too quickly, the glass with crack or shatter. I wonder how this process was perfected back in the age before electricity? I imagine that they had to cool pieces slowly in brick ovens, maybe... Anyway, I learned the careful process of glassblowing, and I'll tell you, it's easier than blowing out a raw egg! But it's still difficult when you're blowing the very first gather of glass, which is a solid blob on the end of the rod. 
 Above is someone blowing their gather of glass, through the blow pipe. You need to be careful to not blow the top too thin, or you'll have a hard time making a vessel through the rest of the process. It's delicate work.
In between working the glass, you need to keep it warm, so you heat it in the glory hole to keep it fluid and soft.
Shaping the glass after you've blown air into it is important for making a vessel like a cup or vase. You need to push some of the glass down towards the bottom, where it should be thicker. Rolling it on the marver is a way to gently cool the outside, as well as shape the glass to your desire.
I didn't make a very large glass, but as it turns out, only one person aside from our instructor made a large glass. It's not easy to work with a glass bubble that's very large when you're nervous about it flopping. Baby steps! And as promised, I'll show you the glass paper weight I made last week...
You can't really see the lavender color I added to the blue and white... but it turned out kind of cool! Here's another angle...
The paperweights were fun and easy to make in comparison to the vessels. But after some more practice, I'm sure that will seem simpler than the next thing we will be making! (I don't know what it is yet, but it's sure to be a doozy!) I hope next Tuesday is cooler than the last two classes. For some reason, our weather has turned out 80 degree days on the two days of class! Today it's 50, which would've been really, really nice yesterday! Also, I burned my arm on the jacks. Not a bad burn, but my first, so woo hoo! I'm just glad I didn't burn myself on the first day of class!

7 comments:

MichelleW said...

Your paperweight is beautiful - I love the swirling colours and the whole process is simply fascinating. Thanks for sharing so much of your class.

Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

Wow~I'm fascinated by the process!
soon you'll be like Dale Chihuly!!

Brandi said...

I can't even imagine what working with molten glass is like!! Much less the skill involved with shaping it. Loving the paperweight you made!

shari said...

Working with molten glass is like being the Goddess Pele... you command the elements of earth and fire!! It's awesome!!!

Thanks, Everyone!!! xoxo

Suki@Fantabulous Design said...

It's look really difficult. I think I could only make something small like glass buttons, ha ha ha.

Tracey said...

what an awesome experience!! I cool that you made something :D
xxx
How fun!

wadurfey said...

Great work! Carrying on the venerable Durfey tradition of fine art and craftsmanship :^))

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