Glassblowers are also known as gaffers. Gaffers use a recipe that was invented by Ancient Egyptians in order to make the glass. The recipe is comprised of lime, sand, and soda ash. These products are mixed together and heated until they reach a liquid state. Materials needed are a blowpipe, punty, marver, bench, blocks, jacks, paddles, tweezers, paper, and shears. In order to get started, the glassblower first preheats the tip of the blowpipe, then dips the molten glass in the furnace. The blowpipe is twisted around so that the glass gathers on the end. Then, the glass is rolled onto the marver. This causes a cool skin to be formed onto the outside of the molten glass blob. Air is blown into the pipe, forming a bubble. More glass can be put over that bubble to make a larger piece. After the piece reaches its approximate size, the bottom is finalized. The molten glass then is attached for a punty, where the glassblower shapes it, and moves the hollow piece from the blowpipe to finalize the top.
The glassblowers station is known as the bench, and is where the glassblower sits and keeps his tools. Blocks are tools used in the early steps to shape and cool a piece. Jacks are tweezer-like tools, with two blades, and are used to form shape later in the process. Paddles are used to create flat bottoms, or other flat spots within the piece. The glassblower also uses tweezers to pick out the details or pull on the glass piece. Two types of shears are used, straight or diamond. Straight shears are large scissors, and make linear cuts. Diamond shears have blades shaped like a diamond, and are used to create large pieces of glass.
To make patterns and add color to blown glass, the glassblower rolls the molten glass into powdered color, and in larger pieces of colored glass, or frit. Patterns are made using cane, which are rods are colored glass, and murrine, which are rods cut in cross sections, to reveal patterns. The pieces of color are arranged on a flat surface in a pattern, then applied by rolling the glass over them.
Different types of glass art includes glass fashion, knitted glass, glass panels, and glass sculpture, The term “glass art” typically refers to larger, more modern pieces, original creations, and is usually in public spaces, not home environments.
Glass fashion is the creation of exclusive custom pieces made from sculpted glass. It is made to order, entirely from glass, with intricate detail, finished by experienced artists, with hand executed techniques.
Knitted glass was developed in 2006, and uses knitted, lost wax, casting, mold-making and kiln casting.
It is extremely important to be well informed about safety when learning and practicing the art of glass blowing. To become an accomplished scientific glassblower in a research environment, years of experience are required, as well as exposure to the many fields of science. Glassblowers usually spend ten or more years working in a multi-science environment before being considered “Master Glassblowers”. In the United States, glassblowers learn their craft through an apprenticeship.
Always wear appropriate protective clothing, equipment, and very importantly, safety goggles. Burns and cuts are always a possibility, sometimes severe enough to result in serious injuries and death. Always inspect the entire work area, most importantly the gas supply system, and confirm safe working conditions at all times. Have someone close by at all times to offer assistance if necessary.
Attempt repair to scientific glassware with caution. If the glassware was broken in use, or has been used in the laboratory at some point, it most likely has chemical residue in or on it. Do not make any repairs until the glass has been thoroughly cleaned. As you heat the glass, and out gassing that occurs is deposited directly into your mouth by the blow hose assembly, so make sure the glass has been properly cleaned.
Also, broken glass and leftover pieces are never to be left in the regular trash, as this may cause serious injury to waste handlers. Sharp containers must be used. Glass blowing facilities must conform to all local, state and federal regulations for personal, property and environmental protection.
What is glassblowing? It is the process of making hollow vessels and sculptural objects out of hot liquid glass. Glassblowing was invented thousands of years ago, and must be done by a skilled artisan. Glassblowing is also knows as off hand glass blowing or furnace glass blowing. Glass rapidly cools, so after approximately 40 seconds of manipulation, the glass must be reheated in a heating chamber called the glory hole. Additional pieces of hot glass can be added to form handles, stems and other sculptural elements.
Flameworking, or lampworking is the process of heating small glass rods in the flame of a small torch to make beads, pendants, and other small objects. Soft glass is commonly used for bead making,while borosilicate is mainly used for small objects, such as drinking glasses.