Crafting hand-blown glassware takes an incredible amount of skill and precision, and master blowers are people who have invested years of their lives learning how to produce beautiful or serviceable objects from molten glass. Beautiful pieces of hand-blown glassware become glasses, vases, curios, plates, and many other objects that are serviceable or conversation pieces.
Hand-blown glassware begins as plain old glass, broken down and melted in large furnaces that can reach temperatures well above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, an apprentice suffers many burns while learning to create hand-blown glassware! Even veterans and master blowers aren’t immune to burned skin from accidents, so the trade is one that requires a careful hand and maximum safety.
How Glass Objects Are Crafted
To create a piece of hand-blown glassware, the crafter dips his blowpipe into molten glass, gathering a blob on the end. Since the pipe is hollow, he can blow down into the liquid glass to expand the material to the size and shape he wants. During blowing, the crafter gently spins the pipe, so that wall expansion is even throughout. Spinning also prevents the glass from dripping, as the material is heavy and left alone, the blob of glass will slowly sag and become unworkable.
Not only is hand-blown glassware formed into a final piece through blowing, spinning and expansion, but the crafter must use pincers and scissors to shape the blob. The molten glass can be pinched and pulled out to create an assortment of additions, such as handles for mugs or pitchers, or even feet or fins for animals and fish. There’s no limit to the imaginative results of hand-blown glassware! Pieces of glass can also be cut off, or used to form grooves in the final product.
While working on hand-blown glassware, crafters need to reheat and soften the material. Glass hardens when exposed to cooler temperatures and air, and working the material into a final piece takes time and patience. Fine hand-blown glassware can be reheated several times before the crafter is satisfied with his work. Once the piece is complete, the hand-blown glassware is separated from the blowpipe and returned to a separate furnace that is used to slowly cool the glass down to prevent cracking.
The final piece can be delicate or sturdy, beautiful or serviceable. No matter what, each piece of hand-blown glassware is a work of art and was created with both passion for the craft and skill by the blower.