Glassblowing is a technique used to create various shapes, containers, and artistic pieces out of glass that requires you to inflate molten glass into a bubble (also called a “parison”) with a blowpipe that can then be shaped into almost anything you desire. Glassblowing is a relatively recent glass working method invented sometime around the last century B.C. (so over 2000 years ago), which uses a certain property of glass
|that was prior unknown: inflation. Glass had been heated and molded, but until then nobody had thought to try to use air pressure to expand it into a certain shape. Today I’m going to teach you the basic essentials of glassblowing that you need to get started right away, presuming that you’re a beginner. The expert that|
I’ve got here to show you how to do this is Todd Hansen. Todd has been blowing glass at Art of Fire in Lytonsville, Maryland since 1999, where he also teaches classes, manages the studio and designs and creates his own work that he sells nationwide.
First, a few tips
- If you’re not sure of what you might be getting yourself into, check around with local glassblowers (find shops that sell handmade glassware–they’ll usually have their own in-house glassblower or one that they buy from), many of them have scheduled public demonstrations that they put on (you may have seen one of these in a mall at some point, as these are popular locations for this because a mall is also a good place for them to try to sell their creations after they do the demo) where you can go and see how it’s done and everything involved, although you’ll really get a good idea of that just from watching these videos but it really can’t replace seeing it done live.
- Glass blowing is one of those hands-on things that really needs to be learned directly from someone who knows how to do it. MANY universities, community colleges, and art schools have not only excellent glassblowing facilities with all the necessary equipment, but also classes that the general public are welcome to sign up for (many of these will actually have more people who aren’t going to school there than actual students).
Part 1: Introduction, necessary equipment, and what you’re going to learn
Part 2: Gathering the glass on the blowing iron: honey on the tip of a butter knife
Part 3: How to size a piece of glass on the blowing iron
Part 4: Shaping the glass
Part 5: How to finish the piece
Additional Resources and Further Reading
I highly recommend that you get a book called Glass Blowing: A Technical Manual–it’s specifically designed with beginners in mind and has a couple hundred different color photos and drawings. It covers necessary tools and equipment and then offers a practical overview of the basic techniques—how to gather molten glass from the furnace, shape glass, and use jacks—while making a variety of solid glass objects.
Glassblower.info is an excellent site with tons and tons of information, tutorials, tips, videos, and pictures all about glassblowing, highly recommended.
Also, the most popular forum for glassblowers to get together and exchange tips and information is the Hot Glass Forums–go there, read, ask questions, talk to professional glassblowers, etc.