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How to Blow Glass - Explained With Apparatus and Procedure

Anuja Marathe Kanhere Apr 17, 2019
A drive down the Glass Route in Germany and you might be stunned to see some amazing pieces of blown glass artworks. The beauty and crystalline sparkle of glass tempts you to try making glass yourself. Here is how one can learn this magnificent art.
Glass blowing is said to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia around the first century BC. Since then, it has gradually spread all around the world. For an artist, it takes years to gain expertise in this art. It requires skillful blowing of air into a molten glass bubble to make various glass objects.
Given here is a detailed step-wise guide to help you learn the art of blowing glass. Avoid experimenting with glass blowing at home, as it can cause severe damage if performed incorrectly. Make sure to dress up in appropriate fireproof garments to protect yourself.

Apparatus Needed for Blowing Glass

Before you start with this activity, gather the listed apparatus.
  • A furnace - For heating the glass
  • A glory hole - For reheating the glass
  • An annealer - For cooling the glass
  • A marver table - For shaping the molten glass
  • Blow pipe - For blowing into the glass bubble
  • Glass colors - For making colored glass
  • Hand tools like jacks, paddle, shears and tweezers
  • A large pitcher of water
  • Old newspapers

Blowing down the Glass Bubble

Glass artists often compare the similarities in the technique of glass blowing and making artwork using honey or caramel. But with honey or caramel, it is harmless if the sweet nectar gets into your mouth by mistake.
Can you imagine the skill required to blow orange-colored molten glass at a temperature of approximately 2300°F? Well, here is a compilation of the steps involved in the glass blowing process for better understanding.
✤ You start the process by gathering molten glass from a furnace at the tip of your blowing pipe. See to it that the pipe is always held in the downward direction to prevent molten glass from flowing over your hands or towards your mouth.
✤ Hold the blow pipe with molten glass blob over a marver table and roll to create an elongated cylindrical form. Remember that glass starts cooling down from the moment it is taken out of the furnace. So you might need to do the rolling process quickly and accurately.
✤ Now, blow some air into the pipe and block the open end of the pipe with the tip of your thumb. Do not shake the pipe so as to form the perfect glass bubble. This bubble gently expands as the air pressure increases within the pipe on account of its blocked end.
✤ For any malformation of this bubble, use the glory hole to reheat the glass. Blow into the pipe again as mentioned earlier. You need to be careful that the glass bubble is even all around.
✤ Use a moistened newspaper to gently turn the glass bubble into whichever shape you want. The moist newspaper helps you shape your glass without burning your hands. Now, gently blow into the bubble using the blow pipe and watch as the glass bubble expands.
✤ Once done, use your free hand or take help of a knowledgeable accomplice to add a neckline to the bubble using the jack. Make it large enough to avoid shutting off the bubble hole.
✤ Once the required shape and size of the glass is achieved, use a paddle to make a flat bottom of the glass bubble. This is the stage where you have the option of adding colors to your glass. Reheat the glass if required, using the glory hole.
✤ Use the tweezers to grip the glass and drop some water at the neckline of the glass bubble. You may tap the blow pipe to separate the glass from the blow pipe or just use the shears to do the same.
✤ Once done, place the glass in an annealer to cool it down. The time required for setting of glass may vary from minutes to days. You just need to be patient.
Way to go...you have just created your first beautiful piece of blown glass. Do not be dejected if you have messed it up a little bit. It might take years of patient practice and help of a trained expert to master this art. Once done, make sure this priceless piece of personal art gets the best place on your living room mantlepiece.