Glass blowing demonstrations for school groups.
Our furnace holds 300 lbs of molten glass in a tank at a temperature of 1100 C . The glass is gathered from the furnace by dipping a heated iron into the glass and turning the iron so that glass gathers on the end of the iron. The clear glass is coloured by dabbing it into trays of coloured glass powders and frits. The colour sticks to the surface and by reheating the colour is fused to the surface. Sometimes more clear glass is gathered over the colour to make a larger gather. The gather is usually taken to the bench now and worked with various tools including steel, paper and wood, shaping and blowing alternately until the shape is achieved.
When he is happy with the shape he needs to finish the top or neck, the blower's assistant gathers on another iron and this iron is stuck to the base so that the piece can be released from the blowing iron. The top is then reheated in the Glory Hole before the glass is pliable and can be formed into a neck.
When the piece is finished it is still very hot over 500 C and has to be cooled evenly in an oven overnight to ensure the glass is without stress. Often there is cold working to be done, cutting, grinding, smoothing and polishing. Each piece is unique one in a series of endless combinations of colour and form.