Glass Blowing

What Is Glass Blowing

This is a process that we can use to form various glass shapes by using a blowpipe to inflate glass in a molten state. When you blow air into the molten glass, you can create a glass bubble that you can easily shape into any form of glassware.

You have to heat your glass into a molten state at temperatures of about 1200°C. This temperature allows you to play around with your glass bubble as it gradually cools down.

Glass Blowing
Glass Blowing

Benefits Of Glass Blowing

In as much as glass blowing may be a tedious process, it can give you some polished works of art. We can have a loom at some of the benefits that glass blowing can offer you:

Versatile

This is arguably one of the major benefits of this process because you can up with anything provided you have the right tools. You can manipulate your glass into very unique pieces of art of various shapes and sizes.

Process Of Glass Blowing

Although it is tedious, glass blowing process is actually not that complicated and you can pull it off with ease. We are going to lay down the step-by-step procedure that we can use for the glass blowing process.

This will give you a clear understanding of how this process works:

Molten Glass FromFurnace

You have to heat your glass in a furnace to temperatures of up to 2000° until it melts. You can take a layer of the glass using a blow pipe and roll it into a cylindrical shape on a marver.

You can then take it back to the glory hole and reheat it while continuously turning it. You have to keep reheating your glass to make sure that its temperature is always above 500°C.

Adding Color

Though this is an optional process if you need just a plain glass design, it is still better if you get to know it. You can add some bit of color to your glass design using colored glasses such as bars, frits or powders.

You simply roll your heated glass over the colored glasses and they will stick on it with every roll. Take back your glass roll into the gory hole and heat it to melt and incorporate the colored glasses

Designing Your Glass

You can p[lace your blowing pipe of on the steel arms available on your bench while constantly rotating it. Use the design tools at your disposal like wooden paddles to create your desired designs on the glass.

You have to have a balanced coordination between your left and right arms if you are to hack this process. This is where your glass design comes to life so maximum concentration and care is required.

Keep in mind that all through this process, you need to be constantly taking your glass back to the glory hole and reheating it. This is because the continuous blowing you do tend to rapidly cool down the molten glass.

Glass Removal

This is the part where you have to separate the glass from your glass pipe after your done with designing it. You can continuously rotate your blow pipe while using jacks to cut off the glass from it.

With the constant pinching of the glass at its bottom, you can easily remove it by just tapping it gently.

Cooling It Down

This is the final step that will require you to wear heat resistant gloves to carry it out. After separating your glass design form the glass pipe, you can take it to the annealing oven.

This oven is designed to let your glass to gradually cool down under a controlled environment over some hours. This is because your glass can easily break when you expose it to a rapid cooling process.

You can finally carry out any other finishing processes on your glass after removing it from the annealing oven. You can maybe grind off any sharp edges that may have been brought about when knocked the punty off.

An Overview of Glass Blowing Process
An Overview of Glass Blowing Process

Types Of Glass Blowing Techniques

There are mainly two glass blowing techniques that will find in common use. Let us have a look at each of them in detail:

Free Blowing

This is the conventional glass blowing process where you have to blow air into your molten glass gather in puffs. The result is an inflated glass that you can easily work on to your desired shape or size.

You can use this technique to produce the smallest kinds of decorative glasses as well as large ones.

Mold Blowing

This is a glass blowing technique where you use a mold made of either metal or wood to give your glass the desired shape. You have to blow your glass inside the mold for it to form.

This method is preferred when it comes to making glasses having very many decorations combined with incised designs. You can have molds as either single piece molds or two-piece molds.

For the single piece molds, you can just pull your finished glass product such as a flat dish from your mold’s top. On the other hand, two-piece molds offer you very intricate designs and you have to open them to get your finished glass product.

How A Bubble Is Blown During Glass Blowing

For you to create your desired glass blown design, you need to have the molten glass in the form of a bubble. We are going to go through the steps on how you can create this glass bubble:

  • You need to take your hot molten glass out of the oven first. Position your pipe with the side that holds the molten glass facing up. Bring the glass to your mouth while keeping in mind that you are dealing with hot material. Your safety comes first do ensure that there is sufficient distance between your hands and the molten glass.
  • You can proceed to slowly bowing your pipe, just not the way you would blow up a balloon. This gentle steady blow is what will make the molten glass form a bubble.
  • When you have formed this bubble, take your glass back to the oven, heat it continue blowing gently. This will make the bubble expand with each reheating and blowing you do.
  • After that, you can blow your bubble by gently tapping it on a surface. It will pop and you will have achieved your very own glass blowing bubble.
Glass Blowing
Glass Blowing

Creating Different Shapes During Glass Blowing

You now have an idea of to make glassblowing bubbles. Its time to put your creativity to test with ways creating some basic shapes from your glass blowing.

Here are the simple steps you can take to achieve this:

  • You can begin by gathering clear glass on the end of your blowpipe. You should take enough gather that will sufficiently satisfy the size of your shape.
  • You can then shape your gather using the various shaping tools available into the design that you want. Keep in mind your glass is extremely and therefore you can shape it easily with your tools.
  • When your done creating your shape, you can gently blow into the pipe so that your glass expands. As the glass expands, there is a decrease in the shape and weight of its walls. You must gradually rotate your pipe all the way round as you blow gently into it. This ensures that the shape you have formed with the glass is formed evenly.
  • When you are satisfied that your shape is properly formed, you can place it in a and breaking it off from your blow pipe. You can then bring your formed shape to a cool by placing it in an annealer.

This lets it cool down in a slow and controlled way. The reason behind this is to prevent any cracks from appearing during this process.

Tools And Equipment Used In Glass Blowing

There are certain tools you must have if you want your glass blowing to achieve exceptional results. We can have a quick look at some of them and how well you can put them to good use:

Glass Blowing Pipe

This tool is usually a metal tube having a mouth piece on one end where you blow into. The other hollow end is where you will gather your glass for blowing.

It is basically what gathers and shapes your gas through your gentle blows inside it. Just for clarity, this tube has to be long.

Punty

You can use this tool to place your glass in position while you are carrying out the various blowing processes and designing. It is a very important tool when you’re carrying out your glass blowing process.

Marver

This is a table made of steel and usually has a flat surface. This is the surface on which you can shape or cool the glass you are working on.

It can aid your glass blowing process by assisting the glass form some form of skin when you roll it on its surface. You can use this skin to continue shaping your glass with more ease.

Jacks

If you know tweezers, then this is basically a giant version of them that you can use for either shaping or cutting your glass. They are very versatile in their application and you can use them to achieve complex glass designs.

Bench

This is the surface where you can carry out all your glass blowing processes. You will find arms on this equipment that you can use to support your blow pipe.

Glory Hole

This is just an opening on the wall of the furnace that you are using for your glass blowing. This is where you will constantly place your glass for reheating in order to keep it in a workable state during the process.

Paddles

These are usually made of wood and you can use them to shape flat surfaces of your glass. Such areas include the flat bottom surface of your glass that it will stand on.

Yoke

This is the tool that gives support to your blowpipe when you want to reheat your glass. This support is usually when your glass is still attached to the blow pipe.

Molds

If you want your blown glass to take a certain shape, then you can use molds to give them that desired shape. You will find them made from either wood or brass and you can custom-shape them based on your project requirements.

Crimps

They resemble the tongs that you normally use in the kitchen but the end surfaces of their arms are usually textured. They can give your glass a decorative design when you squeeze it using crimps.

Safety Tips When Glass Blowing

It is a fact that when you’re carrying out glass blowing, you’re dealing with molten glass and a very hot furnace. Your safety is a priority and that is why you have to observe various safety practices.

We can go through some of them:

Always Wear PPE

Ensure that you are always wearing the most appropriate protective clothing during glass blowing. Your shoes must be closed ones, a pair of safety goggles and long heavy pants are some the must haves.

You can also throw in an apron for extra protection. Remember it is not a fashion show, you have to protect yourself at all costs.

Hydrate Well

When glass blowing, you are exposed to a lot of heat from the surface and your genera working environment. Makes sure that you are properly hydrated to stay cool, dehydration is very dangerous.

Clean Your Workspace

Declutter your workspace since they may be dangerous and you can stumble on them with molten glass around. Ensure that your tools are properly organized with your floor clear of any stumbling objects.

Applications Of Glass Blowing

You can use glass blowing to make a variety of glass designs that may not be possible using machines or molds. An example is the model of a duck or a flower that is impossible to make due to the complex shapes and contours involved.

It gives you the freedom to create your own designs while the glass is in molten state. You can virtually design anything from glass blowing and bring it to life.

Conclusion

Glass blowing is a widely used art form that can create very refined and exquisite art forms. The fact that molten glass is a very versatile material means that you can come up with any design you want to create.

We have outlined all the important stuff you need to know about this beautiful art. This knowledge I s very important if you want to try your hand in glass blowing or when you need its products.

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