There is just something mystifying when you watch a professional glass blower create with scorching burner torches and colorful, molten glass. From the technique to the tools, there’s something about glass blown crafts that just make us wonder in awe.
Have you ever wanted to make glass blown crafts? Now’s your chance! Take a peek into our brief beginner’s guide to discover the history and techniques of modern Glassmiths.
What is Glass Blowing?
Glass blowing actually dates back over 2000 years and originates from creative Syrian crafters. It spread through the east and eventually reached Europe. If you’ve ever traveled in Venice, Italy, then you know exactly why the Venetian glass blowing crafts are so popular.
Glass blowing itself simply refers to the manipulation of molten glass as air is blown into it. The glass needs to be heated at a stifling hot temperature in order for it to become a flexible glob before it can be transformed into beautiful works of art.
The Art of Glass Blowing
Glass blowing as undoubtedly evolved over the centuries, but nevertheless its core principles and methods have seen little change. There are two types of glass blowing still commonly used today: free-blowing and mold-blowing. The difference lies in the shaping technique. Free-blowing relies on the talent and skill of the glassblower to mold the molten glass, whereas mold-blowing insists on the interior design of the mold to shape the glass.
It is a fairly complex craft to master, especially for beginners who haven’t taken an apprenticeship or a glass blowing course. Nonetheless, glass blowing is still possible to learn at home or in a studio. For that, you would need several glass blowing tools to get started.
Glass Blowing Tools
There are a handful of essential tools for glass blowing. In short, you’ll need:
○ Three furnaces are required to complete the main heating, the retouching (Glory Hole), and the cooling (Annealer).
○ Used to heat and mold smaller details or to heat the glass entirely.
○ Used to gather and blow air into the molten glass.
○ Used to shape the molten glass
● Shears, Pontil, Tweezers, Safety Gear, etc.
Master Glassmiths (also known as gaffers) will have all of these tools, plus dozens more. The essentials really vary depending on the size and type of project you are working on.
Glass Blown Crafts
So, what are the different glass blown crafts that you can make? Well. there’s nothing you can’t make using recycled glass.
There are hundreds of opportunities for Glassmiths to invent new glass blown crafts. For some master gaffers, a lifelong dedication to learning and perfecting their glass blowing skills are what makes them so successful today. If you’re looking to start glass blowing, going from small to large projects will take some time. Most beginners start off crafting bowls or beautiful glass ornaments. But the types of glass blown crafts you can make range from very tiny, to very large!
From dainty glass blown jewelry, to holiday ornaments, to extravagant sculptures, and much more, glass blowing offers crafters the rewarding challenge of creating something truly unique and magical.