Glass Blowing - The Art Of Glass Making

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Glass Blowing - The Art Of Glass Making
Dale Chihuly, Persian Ceiling, 1999 15 x 28’ de Young Museum, San Francisco, installed 2008. © Copyright 1999 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Glass blowing is one of the most popular techniques in glass crafts. It consists of inflating the glass already molten into a bubble through a long metal tube called blowpipe. It is a technique originating in the 1st century B.C.

This technique consists of creating a bubble inside of a piece of molten glass. This is possible thanks to air injection, and you can use a tube with a machine, or in a traditional way through the other ends of the tube. This technique of making glass art consists of 4 phases:

  • First phase

The first thing that artisans do is put the glass into an oven with very high temperatures. Then the end of the metal tube is inserted to shape it. When the artisan sticks it, he also tempers it to reach the right temperature; he achieves this by rolling the glass on a steel base.

  • Second stage

When the craftsman completes the first phase, the step of blowing the glass arrives. It consists of filling the molten glass with air; this step is very important to be able to shape the object.

  • Third phase

When you have already blown the molten glass, you should give it the shape you want. To do this step, you need several tools such as scissors and tweezers, to be able to mold the blown glass and make the shapes you want. At this point, the glass must be reheated to form the desired shape.

  • Fourth phase

The last step would be to temper the final piece or figure. To do this step, the craftsman puts the piece back into the oven. This will allow you to reach the hardness needed so that the part does not break or suffer any crack due to sudden cooling.

History of Blown Glass

One of the pieces of evidence for the man with the glass dates back to 4,000 B.C. At that time, blown glass was unknown, but they do work with a type of glass called obsidian, which arose from volcanic eruptions.

At that same time, humans were able to discover the recipe for creating glass, which was: vegetable ash, sand, and lime. The sand could melt with the vegetable ash, while the lime worked as a stabilizer that protected it from moisture.

By 1500 B.C., the inhabitants of Egypt and Mesopotamia began working with hot glass to make their containers. At this time, they also created glass tiles.

The Roman Empire

Syrians are the first to devise blown glass in 300 B.C. They designed an elongated tool that would give way to the technique that is currently known. Then it came to the Roman Empire; this technique received a lot of support from Rome's entire government. By this time, the Romans began to experiment and invent new forms.

At that time, glass was beginning to blow in many places. The first glassblowing workshops emerged in Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus.

The Middle Ages

Blown glass was carried out on the European continent from medieval times to the Middle Ages. In medieval times the Franks used the blown glass technique and created simple, corrugated patterns. Byzantine glass experts worked with blown glass decorated with Jewish and Christian symbols in Jerusalem.

In the Middle Ages, Venice became one of the most outstanding cities for glass blowing. Around the year 1,300 A.D., The Italian government ordered all workers and glassblowers to go to the island of Murano. On this island, the artisans were able to improve their technique and develop the crystal, which means transparent glass, and incorporated new colors.

In the Renaissance, glass blowing was already popular throughout Europe. By the 17th century, people could find books on this technique, such as the Vetraria Art or The Art of Glass.

The World's Best Glass Blowing Artists

Below are some of the best glassblowing artists in world:

  • Dale Chihuly

When talking about this technique, you have to talk about Dale Chihuly; he is a world-renowned glass blowing artist. He specializes in creating organically shaped pieces using centrifugal force and gravity. His floral pieces have explosive colors and many textures. His museum is in Seattle.

  • William Morris

This glassblowing artist worked with Dale Chihuly for over ten years before taking his path and becoming an outstanding craftsman. He already has more than 25 years creating high quality carved pieces and sculptures.

  • Rick Satava

He is responsible for developing the grandeur of the sea in pieces of blown glass. The jellyfish is one of his most outstanding pieces, with tentacles of many colors that seem frozen.

  • Flavie Audi

This artist recreates impressive shapes that take advantage of the material's quality and transparency and creates sublime pieces. They look like pieces of the future with colorful spots that look like they are from distant and virtual lands.

  • Deborah Czeresko

She has managed to use blown glass with metal armor and has created Meat Chandelier. They are unique pieces that stand out from other blown glass artists. The sculptures or pieces show Venetian techniques that are popular in this market and glassware.

  • Cathryn Shilling

This artist is in charge of developing delicate pieces of blown glass, for Cathryn this path arose after an accident left her incapacitated. I took her to find new work activities and found in this technique a way of life that has led her to design striking pieces that have given her much recognition.

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