Thursday, August 25, 2011
Blown Glass Ornaments
It's a nice thing to collect. For some it's the thing they look for as they travel. Looking at each brings back a memory of where they got it.
As my friend Jude says - art is functional, it lifts your spirits every time you look at it!
Each of these ornaments is made by hand and here is how it is done.....
The method of making blown glass ornaments or sometimes referred to as hand blow glass ornaments has changed very little over the years. As they say "If it ain't broke don't fix it" Blowing of glass started in Roman times whereby a gather of molten glass would be gathered on the end of the blowpipe and air blown into the other end to expand the molten glass into a bubble.
The blown glass bubble can be swung by the glassmaker to elongate the piece to the required length and shape to produce various types of vessels. During this time the glass item being made, still attached to the blowing iron, would be put into the glory hole from time to time to heat it back up to a good working heat. The glass blower, throughout all these stages would be turning the gather to prevent it sagging due to the still flexible form.
Once satisfied with the dimensions of this eventual hand blown glass ornament, another member of the glassblowing team, or chair, would heat a pontil iron with a small amount of glass on the end and attach this to the end of the bubble on the blowpipe.
The opposite end of the bubble would now be cut from the blowpipe and can be further worked on, on the pontil iron. The open end can be opened out further, closed, stretched, given a spout, frilled edge or given whatever shape is required. At this still soft state handles can be added, other applied decoration, pinched and almost anything the glass artisan wishes to do.
The glass making process is not complete until the glass is annealed. Only when all hand work is finished the pontil iron would be cracked off and the item placed in the annealing chamber to cool down at a gradual pace. After a period which can take days of this gradual cooling, the blown glass ornament will be strong enough for use. When next holding a piece of beautiful hand blown glass, I hope you will now better understand the skills required and how glass is made.