The World of Glassblowing
25, February 2013 The World of Glassblowing Ever imagine what it’s like to play with honey? Now imagine playing and shaping honey when it’s glowing red hot with strange yet interesting instruments and turning it into some beautiful and out of this world. A piece of art that is completely unique and one of a kind. Well this is exactly what it’s like in the world of glassblowing. By trying and experiencing the art class here at SBVC one can truly learn to perfect not only just the skill, but expand your own imagination as well as your creativity.
Glassblowing is a dying trade and skill in the art world. Now it’s mainly considered more of a hobby. On a more serious note career-wise it’ll get you far but it will not et you a life of luxury, but it does provide if your living the single life.
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Family-wise your better off having another full time job because this particular career would only pay enough to cover for the materials, the tools, the furnace, etc that one would use. These costs tend to be particularly high in price which would be the main reason to look for employment else where when it comes to providing for a family.
Naturally, most people would think that glassblowing originated from Mexico because a lot of handmade glassware is manufactured and created there. In Mexico glassblowing is actually done outside in the public for all to see this fascinating art. So it’s not surprising that so many people are convinced that this intriguing skill would come from our neighbors down in the South. When in fact glassblowing originated from across the world in Italy, where it’s a tradition to earn a living from. In most Italian families a trade like glassblowing is naturally passed down from one generation to the next.
Italy focuses mainly on the handmade arts such as glassblowing, pottery, stain-glasswork, etc and avoids mainstreaming it. Which in conclusion is why most handmade objects that are purchased and shipped from Italy is so highly priced. Most likely that piece of art is one of a kind and cannot be replicated. In my own observations at the SBVC Glassblowing class, I was able to witness the delicate procedure it takes to perfect this particular skill. As I sat and observed Stephen, a student here at SBVC’s Glassblowing class, he explains carefully every step that must be taken along with some precautions.
Stephen then explains the dangers of this type of artwork and gives some examples of injuries that he and many other students acquired white participating in this class. One example that he used was how one student subconsciously caught an object he knocked over in an attempt to save it from shattering but in return burned both hands because the object was still hot. This student obtained first-degree burns on both hands and thus was not able to participate in the class for two weeks. As Stephen preps and prepares his materials and tools for his project I then proceed to ask him more questions.
Such as what made him want to pursue this dangerous yet interesting trade. He then set his tools down and simply replied that he wanted a fresh start. Something new and exciting and that when he saw the title of this class he knew right then and there that that was something he wanted to do. Stephen then grabs a blowpipe, expected it and then approached the glory hole with it and began to heat one end of it. As he was heating or warming up the blowpipe I then continued with my interview. My next question that I addressed to Stephen was what did he personally benefit by taking this class and learning this skill. Well.. ” Stephen said as he opened the furnace, “ By taking this class and learning this skill I learned how to be patient, which I never was before taking this class. ” Stephen then dips the end of the blowpipe in the furnace to gather the red hot glowing liquid and quickly closes the door while maneuvering the blowpipe to keep the glass from falling to the ground. Stephen then said, “and I also learned really good hand-eye coordination too as well as working in a high stress environment. After finishing with that reply, Stephen then when to the marver and evened the molten glass on the pipe and quickly sat down at his bench and continued his project by blocking the glass. “Are there any disadvantages in glassblowing? ” I said and Stephen then quickly replied “ Other than getting burns no not really. ” After rounding the glass with the block to his liking Stephen then got up and inserted the glass into the glory hole to reheat the glass before blowing and shaping it into a perfect bubble.
As Stephen resumes his place at the bench, I quietly watched as he skillfully reshapes the glass and then using one end of the blowpipe gently blows air into the glass, forming a small but perfect orb. As Stephen manipulated his small glass bubble, I then asked him what was the most interesting part of his new found skills. As he created the jack line, which formed a neck separating the bubble from the pipe he replied that the most interesting part of Glassblowing was the unlimited amount of ideas that can be made with the glass if one has the imagination and creativity to bring them to life.
With that Stephen then quickly moved over to a box with what looked like cotton inside and gently tapped the blowpipe with the back of his jacks (a tool that looks like a very large set of tweezers) and the bubble simply fell from the blow pipe and into the box. Stephen then quickly put the box in the annealed which slowly cools the glass over a period of a few hours (depending on how large the object in question is). Before I was able to ask another question Stephen then said to me in a cool tone that if he had to choose between pursuing Glassblowing as a career or a hobby that he’d rather keep this as a hobby.
His reason behind this statement was that it was something that he would continue to do for peace of mind. If he were to pursue this skill as a career that he would love to teach it but that it was unlikely to happen for him. As our interview came to an end, Stephen then took me under his wing and taught me some of the basic yet advance techniques that he uses to create small objects. Such as small teacups. After he gave me a small run thru on how to make a small tea cup with a handle, I was then instructed to try the procedure on my own.
I then slowly mimicked Stephen’s every step: I heated the blowpipe and then gather a good size amount of the molten glass on my pipe. Next I then rolled the glass in a quick but steady pace on the marver to even the glass forming a small cylinder. Then I approached the scorching hot glory hole, reheated the glass, sat down at the bench and then proceeded to block the molten glass until it was completely even. I then angled the blowpipe just like Stephen instructed me to do, took a deep breath and blew into the blowpipe.
At first it was a bit difficult, but after the first few seconds grew easier. Right when I was getting comfortable with this my bubble suddenly popped! Apparently I blew the glass so much that the glass became thin and popped. Glassblowing not only teaches one how to manipulate the red hot glowing liquid with strange tools, but also teaches one how to express the creativity and imagination of the mind to create mind blowing works of art. What made you want to take this particular class? What have you benefited from taking this class and learning these skills?
What would you say are the disadvantages of glassblowing and why? What are the advantages of glassblowing and why? Would you recommend this class or learning these specific skills to anyone? What would you say is the most interesting part of glassblowing? Would you ever continue these skills as a career path or a hobby? Why? When you first started taking this class what was the worst experience you ever had? Did that experience include getting any type of injuries while participating? What was the most extreme injury you’ve ever gotten?
Did you ever receive any burns that were third degree burns? How did your parents react when you told them of your new found interest in glassblowing? Did they oppose it or support it? How do you feel about the class fee you had to pay? Do you feel that the class fee is fair or unfair? Recently I’ve heard that most of the art classes are being cut. What are you going to do if the distract cuts the glassblowing program? Will go elsewhere to continue learning and perfecting this art or call quits? Tucker