What is glassblowing and how can you get started? Let’s look at glass blowing and also explore some glass blowing kits to get you started on this hobby with a difference.
What Is Glass Blowing?
Glassblowing is a centuries-old technique for inflating dissolved and heated glass into a bubble.
A glass blower, or glass smith, inflates molten glass with the help of a blowpipe or blow tube. Typical glassblowing involves the use of three furnaces. The first furnace contains the molten glass crucible, called the furnace. The second furnace is called the glory hole, which is used to reheat a piece of molten glass in between working it. The third or final furnace is called the “lehr” or “annealer”. This furnace is used to slowly cool the glass.
What Tools Are Used For Glassblowing?
The major glassblowing tools you will need include the blow pipe or blow tube, the punty or punt, marver, bench, blocks, seers, jacks, paddles, tweezers and shears. Most glass blowing kits for beginners will have all the basics inside so that you can start from scratch.
The blowpipe’s tip is first heated, and then it’s dipped in molten glass in the furnace. Then the molten glass is gathered onto the blowpipe, in the same manner, that honey is picked up by a dipper.
Here are some great glass blowing kits you can order online. These are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you decide to purchase, at no extra cost to you the buyer.
The kit above is an Intermediate Lampwork Starter Kit for beginners, which comes with email support.
There is also a 2 hour-long instructional DVD included that explains how to use the glass blowing kit.
Make sure to use safety lenses and adequate ventilation when glass blowing.
ZenStyle Oxygen & Acetylene Gas Cutting Torch and Welding Kit Portable Oxy Brazing Welder Tool Set with Two Hose,Goggles,Regulator Gauges,Storage Case
The set includes an oxygen regulator, torch handle, and acetylene regulator.
The welder tool set comes with readable and legible dual scale 2-Inch gauges and a large brass handle is designed for smooth, accurate adjustments.
The portable oxy brazing welder features hoses, welding and cutting torches, goggles,tip cleaners, and spark lighter.
There is a heavy-duty molded storage case packing a spanner for easy carrying and transport.
The gas welding kit is perfect for the amateur metal workers or seasoned professionals with business or home applications.
Ideal for many occasions such as welding, soldering, brazing, rivet cutting,hard-facing, and metal heating process.
Tips: Take the set to your local welding supply if you don’t know what tanks to buy to complete this, they will fit you the proper tanks needed.
Click on the pictures above or on the links to find out more about the featured products. Please note that these are affiliate links, which means that I will get a small percentage of the profits if you decide to make a purchase.
The Principles behind Glass Blowing
The inventors of glassblowing stumbled upon a property of glass that was previously unknown to glass workers. Inflation is the term for the expansion of the molten glass blob, after a small amount of air is introduced or blown, into it.
This is due to the liquid structure of the glass, where atoms are held together by chemical bonds, which are arranged in a disordered or random network. This allows the molten glass to be viscous enough to be blown, where it slowly hardens once it loses heat.
The History Of Glass Blowing
The art of glassblowing was introduced in the middle of the 1st Century B.C. The process of free-blowing involved blowing short puffs of air into the molten glass that’s gathered at the tip of the blowpipe. The blowing creates an elastic skin on the interior of the glass, which also matches the exterior caused by the removal of heat from the furnace. The glassblower then blows up the molten glass and works it into a desired shape or design.
The Phoenicians along the Syria-Palestine coastline first invented Glassblowing. Some of the ancient Phoenician glass tubes recovered were closed at one end and were inflated by blowing through the open end while still hot, to form a small bottle. Tube blowing, according to historians, evolved not only because glassworkers were experimenting on new ways to blow glass, but also to induce some changes in conceiving glass, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the properties of glass.
The glassblowing tradition came to Europe during the medieval period, after the collapse of the Roman Empire in 5 A.D. The Germans, or Franks as they were then called, had created corrugated molds and developed decorating techniques.
Drinking vessels that simulated the shape of animal horns were produced in the Rhine and Meuse valley.
During the Renaissance, Italy saw a revitalized interest in glass blowing.
Workers in Venice employed Glassblowing, to produce fine glassware designs, which are called Cristallo. Glassblowing then gained popularity worldwide and was prevalent in countries such as Japan, China, and the Middle East. In the Middle East, Byzantine glassworkers were known to have designed both Christian and Jewish symbols during the late sixth century.
Archaeologists also discovered mold-blown vessels that featured a linear-cut decoration, in Sammara, a region located in what is now Iraq.
Modern Trends in Glass Blowing
Modern glass blowing versions came into light with the entry of the 20th Century. In 1962 for example, Harvey Littleton, a ceramics professor, and Dominick Labino, a chemist, founded the Studio Glass Movement. These two individuals were credited for being the first to make molten glass available to different artists who were working in private studios or shops.
This novel glassmaking approach also gained global adherence, where artists such as Dante Marioni, Marvin Lipofski, Dale Chihuly, and others created wonderful designs and offered their expertise to interested artists.
Can You Make Money As A Glass Blower?
Glass blowing is a great creative outlet. It’s a beautiful skill to have, but this skill is one that takes a long time to master. Luckily if you chose glass blowing as a career you can always rely on the fact that glass blowing is a stable job.
Like any career, to make a living from this, you will need to practice a lot first. It can take years to become proficient at glass blowing.
Experienced and talented Glassblowers can earn an average yearly salary of $34,030. Wages typically start from $24,280 and go up to $47,695.
So if you are interested in trying Glass Blowing as a hobby, it is best to perhaps start with one of the glass blowing kits for beginners above and give it a try. This is the most unusual and fun hobby, and I would recommend trying a class first if you are unsure if glass blowing is for you.