Glass Blowing - 101

A Dropped Cookie footed glass (2018)


After taking the Glass Blowing Experience Class, at The Benzaitine Center for the creative arts. I knew I was hooked. When I asked about what I would be able to do after taking their six-week class 101 class I was told at the end I might be able to make a small wonky shot glass. Despite how easy experienced gaffers make their craft look it takes years of experience to create what they do well from molten glass.

Within two days I had researched and signed up for their glass blowing 101 class, A six-week class, 3 hours each Thursday night. I couldn't wait for the classes to start and tore up the web and amazon for more information.

I bought and read these before classes began

Schmid is a really a good and unique author, but Mckelvey provides a different view. There is more than one way to skin a cat and so ideas and methods from shop to shop and from instructor to instructor very. Although this can be confusing they can both be right. Glass, which is rapidly changing temperature, is a strange media to play with.

Later the Instructor's (Jim and Nick) highly recommended this book, Advanced Glassworking Techniques: An Enlightened Manuscript, also by Edward T. Schmid, and they are right. I am glad I had also bought his Beginning Glass Blowing even though they felt that this book was sufficient.

I also bought The Glassworker's Bathroom Reader, Not really an instructional book, but definitely different.

Another great resource is the many Youtube videos from Corning Museum of Glass Especially, for the beginner, anything by Bill Gudenwrath:

Unexpected Reward

For me the most exciting thing I found out was that it was ok to come in and observe other glass blowers at work. Now nearly all my Saturday's (I still work M-F, they are closed Sundays to recharge the glass furnace) are spent in the hot shop observing and taking notes. Besides observing I attempt to make myself useful sweeping, answering questions, keeping pipes and punties in the pipe warmer, opening the annealer etc. Ocassionally I get to do minor assists. I try to minimize being in the way, but sometimes I am. My apologies and thanks to all.

Some Bad pictures of my Bad Inexperienced Glass Blowing

But had a hell of a lot of fun!

Week 1

We did not actually blow anything this week but covered safety, gathering, and played with the hot glass using various tools (jacks tweezers blocks). From what I have read we were fortunate to have shop that allows students to gather from the beginning.

A ring bubble, created by necking the middle of first gather and plunging it into the glass for the second gather. (2018_06_28)

Week 2

We begin blowing our 1st bubble, breaking it off at the neck onto a punty the instructor prepares and attaches.

My 1st Blown Bubble. (2018_07_05)
Over Blown Bubble. (2018_07_05)

This mistake, purposefully overdone, is paper thin and breaks very easily.

2nd week and the promised wonky shot glass is already a reality. (2018_07_05)

Week 3

We continue but now we provide the punty to/from another student partner.

More Tumbler Attempts. (2018_07_12)

Week 4

Practice Practice Practice...

Even more Tumbler Attempts. (2018_07_19)

Week 5

Continue to practice under guidance but add attempting to add a handle to the tumbler.

Bad Handles the smaller one also has a clear lip wrap. (2018_07_26)

Week 6

Exploring pull out the stem and put in on a partner dropped cookie foot.

Stem on Dropped Cookie Foot. (2018_08_02)

A Couple Of Private lessons

The sixth and lst class class was in early August, but the hot shop was scheduled to shut down for maintenance the whole month of September, so the next six-week class was not scheduled until October. I did not want to wait this long so tried to schedule a private lesson for each Saturday till they closed. We were only able to match schedules for 2 Saturdays.

August 11, 2018 1 Hr.

New Instructor Justin. New ways of doing things. Many new notes. Lots of repetition to the cullet pile. Blow and cap the initial bubble.

The glass is suggesting the final form rather than the gaffer. I have a long ways to go.

Tumbler and Vase. (2018_08_11)

September 01, 2018 2 Hrs.

Many repetitions to the cullet pile, thinning the neck with twezzers, trimming off glass with shears. Justin attempts to let me work the last piece without direction, I fail!

The default goal, tumblers. (2018_09_01)