The art of glass blowing can be traced back to 5000 B.C. when glass workshops emerged from cooking fires on the beaches of Syria. Glass has been utilized in ways beyond our imagination over the centuries. While glass is used for too many products to count, from dishware to windows, its most truly precious form comes in the art of glass blowing. When looking at a beautiful vessel or chandelier one asks themselves “How did the artist create such visually mind blowing effects?” Here are just a few techniques and materials glass artisans use when crafting their masterpieces.
The most traditional form of glass blowing comes in the form of free-blowing and mold-blowing. Free-blowing involves gathering a soft molten blob of glass and roling it onto one hand of the blowpipe. The artist then blows into it to "bubble" the glass into its unique shape. Mold-blowing involves a similar inflating process, except using a mold made of wood or metal.
Gaffer- the artist and glass craftsman
Blowpipe- Traditionally made of clay, now made of metal. It is used to gather, expand, and turn the glass.
Marveris- A metal table used to shape the piece.
Punty- A small metal rod used to work the glass.
Block- A wooden tool used to shape the glass
Tweezers- Grabs and manipulates hot glass
Paddle & Shield- Protects the gaffer while working
Bench- the gaffer’s work station
After being molded and crafted into its desired form, the artist will use three types of furnaces to seal their work. The simple furnace has a pot or crucible inside of it, while the glory hole (yes, actual name) is an insulated furnace where the artist can still manipulate the piece as it hardens. Finally, the annealer puts the final touch and keeps the glass strong and stable.
This is only brushing the surface of the expansive techniques of glass blowing. As it has grown and developed over centuries artists are still finding ways to manipulate hot glass into beautiful shapes and color patterns. The studio glass movement as we know it has been around less than a century, and artists are finding new ways daily to manipulate the glass into forms previously thought impossible.
At GlassArt.net we value the craft and expertise of the talented artists who challenge this ancient art form with every new piece. When you take home your custom glass artwork from GlassArt.net you deserve to know all about the creativity, technique, and delicate craftsmanship behind your new decorative piece. Learn more about the individual unique handiwork and methods used by our many glass experts by visiting our Artists page, and learn about their craft as well as updates in the industry by staying up-to-date with our blog. Long live art.