Process - Bowl

Furnace

The furnace, heated to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit, holds a crucible of molten glass. Because it takes up to a week to heat up, the furnace stays at this temperature 24 hours a day, months at a time.

After taking an initial gather of molten glass from the furnace, a wooden tool called a block is used to gently manipulate the glass into a uniform shape. Blocks are made of green fruit wood and are stored in water to reduce burning of the wood.

A second gather of glass has been added making the piece larger. Shaping is achieved by using a larger block.

A water-soaked pad of cotton and graphite (or sometimes newspaper) is used to refine the shape the glass. Here you can see the first bubble of air in the glass.

The assistant blows air into the pipe as gaffer simultaneously shapes the glass. The pipe requires constant turning from the first gather of glass to the end of the piece.

As the glass cools it stiffens. Throughout the blowing process the piece is repeatedly reheated in the glory hole giving the glass more malleability.

The piece grows larger as more air is added. Pressure from the pad continues to determine the shape of the glass.

A “foot” of glass is dropped onto a steel table called a marver and is attached by touching the two pieces of glass together. The glass is hot enough at this point to allow the two pieces to fuse together forming one piece.

The glass is reheated repeatedly throughout the blowing process.

While still hot enough to move, steel tweezers are used to manipulate elements of the piece.

Reheating not only returns workability to the glass, but also helps maintain enough heat to prevent the piece from cracking off the pipe.

Close-up of the piece in the glory hole during reheating.

Once all the elements of the bottom of the piece have been set, a second steel rod, called a punty is connected to the piece. A thin layer of glass on the tip of the rod is all that will hold the piece to the rod now.

Now attached to the punty rod at the bottom of the piece, the opening is heated and steel “jacks” are used to enlarge the opening.

A molten gather of glass is added to the lip of the opening for a decorative effect.

As the molten glass drips off the rod it fuses to the piece.

Steel “diamond shears” are used to cut the molten glass at the desired point. When glass is molten it is soft enough to cut easily. Mere seconds can change the temperature enough to make cutting impossible.

A metal tool is pushed into the glass while it is still malleable, leaving a decorative texture.

More wraps are added to the lip of the piece in the same manner.

Once all wraps have been added the piece is heated again in the glory hole until the lip is so soft that it almost folds onto itself. The centrifugal force flares the piece into a bowl shape. The speed of the spinning rod and the angle at which it is held determine the final shape of the bowl. The rod is then lightly tapped with a wooden mallet causing a vibration that separates the piece from the punty rod. The bowl is then put into an oven at almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit. There it slowly cools overnight to alleviate any stress in the glass.