Class covering the history of modern glassblowing, torch safety, and color application gives students a hands-on experience in the art
About This Deal
Choose Between Two Options
- $51 for a one-hour glassblowing class for one ($100 value)
- $108 for a one-hour glassblowing class for two ($200 value)
Click here to view the glass fusing class offer.
Glass Blowing: From Bubbles to Baubles
Based in simple chemistry, the techniques behind glass blowing have barely changed in 2,000 years. Read on to clarify your understanding of the science of stemware.
At the base of the torch, a pool of liquid simmers at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Armed with only a hollow tube and a few deep breaths, an artist can shape this glowing liquid into colorful pieces of art ranging from vases and pipes to sculptures and useless swords. Forming a solid structure from a liquid may seem like medieval alchemy, but it’s all possible thanks to the unique properties of glass. Though virtually solid at room temperature, glass has a molecular structure closer to that of a liquid, with a relatively random organization of molecules rather than a rigid, orderly arrangement. In fact, purists would describe glass as a super-cooled liquid with such a high viscosity that it resembles a normal solid. When heated, the materials that make up glass—typically silicon dioxide (sand), sodium oxide (soda), and calcium oxide (lime)—soften, allowing a glassblower, or gaffer, to manipulate the mixture’s shape in its molten form. Once cooled, the glass retains its shape—until, of course, it shatters when an opera singer hits a high note and drops it on the floor.
Since most glass is naturally transparent, a gaffer must add metal oxides to the molten blend to give it color. Different metals determine the hue of the final product: cobalt lends the glass a blue tone, gold a ruby red sheen, and manganese an amethyst tint. Next, they dip their metal pipe into the furnace, letting a layer of the liquid build up on the end, and cool the other end of the tube in ice water or day-old coffee so they can blow into it, causing the glass to form into a bubble. As the artisan shapes this bubble through a variety of methods, they must constantly rotate the pipe, applying centrifugal force so as to prevent the (not-yet-solid) glass from dripping.