Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blowing Glass Bubbles

  I thought since Himself doesn't go out to Tacoma anymore that my glass blowing days were over.  So you can imagine how delighted I was to find out glass blowing classes were being held right in my county!  I jumped on the opportunity to have another go at it.  This time Himself wanted to try too.  And three's a party when BF decided to come.  

We ended up with four in our class, as new friend Mr. S also signed up.

(Glass ornament being formed)

The class was held at "Erin's Farm" in Cunningham, TN.   Gary and Linda have a large Christmas tree farm full of beautiful pines ready to be Christmas trees.  They also raise you know where I will be in July!

Linda Hamm

Our teacher Algar Dole is the owner of Atlanta Art Glass (  He comes up periodically to give workshops here in Tennessee.  

He offers different types of classes:

Type 1 - learn the basics and blow one ornament.  $35

Type 2 - again, learn the basics, but there is much more time for practicing.  You get to blow 4 ornaments.  $95

This is the first piece of equipment - the furnace which has a container (the crucible) that holds the molten glass.  The rod you see is the blowpipe.  It is dipped in the molten glass and a blob of glass is picked up.

This is the second furnace called 'the glory hole'.   When you are working glass it cools off ('cool' being entirely relative here!) and you have to bring it back up to heat.

So your blowpipe with your glass goes in here to reheat.

Oh...this is the blowpipe warmer.  The molten glass won't stick to a cold pipe.

These are diamond shears; scissors for cutting molten glass.  The way they are shaped causes the cut to be pointed rather than the long cut you would get with regular blades...almost like a 'pinch cut'.

These are the different pigments we had to color the glass pieces.

They are glass - shards, pieces, sand-like, and powder.

OK, that enough about all the bits and bobs and tools used to make our ornaments.  Let's see how you make an ornament!

Since this is a workshop with limited time to learn, Algar got the glass from the crucible for us.  Molten glass dropped about on the floor is so not good...

The blowpipe is then handed over to the student - this is Himself - and is heated up more in the glory hole.

Then the blob is taken to the 'marver', a metal table/workbench, to shape the glass.

And then back to the glory hole (this time it's Mr S).

Then over to the color bins where you roll your molten glass thru the pigment.  This time it is in the sandy-textured color.  You can see the frosty look on the glass blob.

Himself picking up some chips.

Another shot of picking up pigment chips.

Then back to the glory hole for more reheating - (this is BF working on her ornament).

Back to the pigment...  (I used a lot of the violet/cobalt).

And back to the glory hole yet again!

Depending on how much pigment you use and how quick you work (slower equals more reheating), you'll be looking into that hot red glow at least 5 times.  Each person does their ornament as the others wait...and help with opening and closing doors on the furnaces.

When you are happy with your coloring, it is time to blow!

And blow...and blow...and blow some more...

How hard is it to blow glass?  The first blow where you are starting to expand the bubble is like blowing up one of those long balloon used to make balloon sculptures.  Kinda hard.  But it is just for a bit and then it gets much easier.

When the blowing was done, Algar took the ornament over to this bucket to remove it from the blowpipe.  With a practiced tap, the pipe snaps away from the ornament.  Then he forms the hook for hanging.  To do this he picked up a bit of molten glass from the crucible...

... and stuck it to the top of the ornament.

While the glass is still soft, with a flick of his wrist he makes the hook.

Sometimes the glass gets stubborn and has to be reheated with a blow torch until, once malleable, he can form the hook. did they turn out?

This is Mr S's ornament.

Here is BF's ball.

And here is Himself's and mine!

It was so much fun!  Next time he comes back to Tennessee I'm going to try to get a group of friends and go out again!

It's not an opportunity to miss!

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