Tools and the Process
From the time it was discovered until now, Glass blowing and its techniques have far advanced to modern day standards. Glass workers use 3 furnaces: the furnace, the glory hole and the lehr. The furnace is the very first step to heat the glass compounds. These are heated at a temperature of around 2,400’ F (1,320’ C). The furnace contains a large amount of molten glass and allows the glass to become malleable. While working with the molten glass, it is important to continuously reheat the piece in order to ensure that it stays workable. This achievement is done by using the glory hole in between steps. Failure to keep the piece at a molten level can result in the glass cooling to fast, while also not shaping correctly. The lehr is used to slowly cool the glass. This cooling process can be over the course of a few hours to a few days. This reduces the amount of thermal stress on the glass, thus allowing cracks and breakage to be minimal.
A glass blowers bench is an important part of any glass blowers shop. This is where all the work is done. here, the glass blower sits down to shape and define the design of the glass piece. The glass blower uses his hand held tools here such as jacks and paddles. Jacks are used for creating shape while paddles are used to give a flat edge to a glass piece. A glass blowers bench is also where glass spinning takes place. Glass spinning allows for the glass to remain in a particular shape set by the glass blower. The motion of spinning stops the glass from ‘drooping’, allowing for the glass blower to work the glass with ease.
The major tool used in glass blowing is the blow pipe. When using the blowpipe, the tip is first heated or preheated and then dipped into the molten glass which is in the furnace. Molten glass is then gathered onto the end of the blowpipe and immediately begins to be rolled. In between rolls, the artist will blow into the blowpipe to give it its shape or bubble. Depending on the look that the artist wants to give to his glass masterpiece, more molten glass can be added to give it a thicker look, while more blowing can be done to create a bigger bubble. Once the blowpipe has been used to give the glass its size and shape, the Glass blower then finalizes any last minute touches, and then places it into the lehr to cool.
Of course, there are many other tools used, such as tweezers and straight shears. These help to shape the glass and give it a unique look while also making it easy to do. Patterns and colors are introduced to the blown pieces by rolling the molten glass in colors or in pieces of glass. It’s also worth to learn more about the variety of glass blown devices like dab rigs here: https://www.bongoutlet.com/bubblers-rigs-c-53.html