Glass blowing as an art form has been around for centuries. While modern conveniences have simplified the procedure somewhat, it is still done in much the same way now as it was in the first century. Popular blown glass art and other items include beads, platters, bowls, vases, lamp shades, and decorative pieces. Once you've learned the basic technique, you'll enjoy experimenting to create individual, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Here's how to blow glass.
- Because there are such specialized techniques and equipment used, it's a procedure that should be learned from a professional in a controlled environment.
- The glass itself must first be heated enough to make it pliable, using a special furnace or kiln. Once the glass is soft enough, the artist uses a blowpipe to create a bubble in the material. The bubble becomes the opening for the vessel, and is constantly manipulated by blowing air through the blowpipe. Color and shape are added gradually, until the end result is achieved.
- Once the piece is finished, the glass is brought back to room temperature slowly and gradually. The entire process can take quite a long time, but the end results are worth it! Once the glass has cooled, embellishments can then be added if desired.
- The high levels of heat that are necessary to melt the glass cause an intense light within the glass itself. Safety glasses or goggles must be worn to protect the eyes and to allow you to see the bubbles being formed in the glass.
- If you want to learn this skill, it requires concentration and attention to detail. It can be painstaking work, and there is always a chance that you'll slip and your work will be smashed to bits. If you aren't a patient person, this is not the craft for you!
- The glass used for blowing comes in sticks called "canes". Canes are available in a wide range of colors, and can be as thin as a piece of string or quite thick in diameter.
- Glass blowing is taught at many art studios, colleges, and glass schools and studios. Check your local phone book or search online for a location near you that offers these classes. Try a beginner's course to see if this is an activity that you'll enjoy.
- Many glass blowers have set dates and times when they allow the general public to watch them create their work. This is another great way to learn more about the process and find out if it's something you'd like to try.
Do not try melting and shaping glass at home without proper training and equipment! The amount of heat needed to make the glass pliable is quite dangerous, especially if you're not sure what you're doing. Always learn the procedure from a professional, make sure you have the correct tools, and wait until you are very skilled at the craft before trying it on your own.