On a trip to Vermont for Christmas this year, I convinced several friends to join me in taking a 3-hour glass blowing workshop at at Route 4 Glassblowing, a smal studio in Windsor, Vermont. Lada, the founder of the studio, was our very gracious guide ithough this intial adventure.
The first thing you notice is the heat. It is intense. And it doesn’t let up until you move away from the furnace. And just when you feel normal again, you have to go back to the furnace to reheat the piece. One friend joked that he had a sunburn as a result. I know I peronally was happy that I was doing it in middle of (a warm) winter instead of in the dead of summer.
The other thing that you notice is the need for constant motion. Once you begin, you remain in motion until the item is done and placed in the kiln to get cured. You are always doing SOMETIHING.
The final thing is that it is WAY more difficult than it looks. But also just as fun as it looks. And now I’m hooked!
So now, here are the –
TOP FIVE THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT GLASSBLOWING (before this class):
(1) Heat It Up: You must preheat the metal rod (punty) and blow pipe (until the tip is red to dark orange in color) before attaching glob of molten glass (which has a consistency of honey).
(2) Tuning in to Turning: And the first rule about glass blowing is…you must always keep the blow pipe turning when blowing and keep the punty turnng when moving from the furnance to the bench, when moving back to the furnace from the bench, when shwhen reheating.
(3) Color in the Clear: The glass colors come from additions of items to the clear mollten glass (red: copper; yellow: uranium; green: iron; blue:cobalr; white silica). You dip the molten blob into the powdered colors to coat. And then to mix the colors, you drag a hook-like tool from the top of the sphere down / across multiple times. (I didn’t do a good job of adding color or mixing as evidenced by the photo to the left. That is supposed to be red and yellow – not just yellow.)
(4) Fitting the Mold: You use wood molds (including patterns) to shape the glass (e.g., round it or create a star pattern). You either place the molten glass (as attached to the punty) in the wooden mold while you are sitting at the bench or you stand on a little stool and stick the molten glob in a pattern mold.
(5) Coolin in The Kiln: You have to put it in a kiln after you complete the form to take the temperature down