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Glass-Blowing Instructions

Picture from Dale Chihuly museum in Seattle

Picture from Dale Chihuly museum in Seattle. All rights reserved. Aashish Vaidya.

For this piece, you’re your own
gaffer, blocker, and blower.
Gather your sculpting tools:
block, caliper, cutting shears
jack, marver, rag and an annealing oven.

Start with molten glass blanks
on a blowpipe and some forethought.
Roll the blowpipe on your keyboard block and
start rolling, flash your composition
In the mind’s glory hole to mold it
to your vision. Blow sparingly.
Use the “wet” newspaper rags to shape
Your words, syntax, and rhythm.

Be careful to not pick up
Chill and burn marks or subject the piece to
writing thermal shock, and get it too chunky,
too obtuse, too pompous, too, too.

As the piece takes shape
Case it with clarity, gilt with analogies,
adorn it with alliteration,
add iridescent on the marver
for some panache.
Continually edit your piece with
shears and calipers to
mold to your vision.

When done, use tongs to separate it from blowpipe
put it in the annealing oven
to let it cools off nice and even without cracking.

As the piece congeals, cold-work final tweaks to artistic satisfaction,
hit publish. You won’t know if it’s
good or if it’s a masterpiece till you
get some onlookers, some admirers and critics.
Keep working more pieces to
continually hone your craft!

Notes: Day 17 of NaPoWriMo 2016.  Prompt was to use 10 words from a specialized dictionary into a poem.  Bit time press, so putting out what I worked through for today.  Specialized dictionary I used was glass blowing.


Word List:

Annealing oven: the process of gradual cooling of the outside and the inside of  the molten glass to assure that the glass won’t cool to fast causing cracks or breaks.

Blank:  a molten glass object ready for the further creation of the art glass piece.

Block: the forming tool used for the shaping of the molten glass.  the block is usually made of cherry wood and is wet while used with the hot glass.

blocker: the glass worker that actually blows the first bubble through the blowpipe and then subsequently transfers that blow-pipe to the gaffer.

Blower: the glass worker that blows the air through the blowpipe (within the mold or freehanded).  upon occasion, the gaffer might do the blowing of the air themselves to have more control.

Blowpipe:  a steel pipe with an air passageway throughout it’s entire length.  one end has the mouthpiece and the other has the larger built up area for the molten glass to gather and blow the bubble on.

Burn-mark:   the residue left from the usage of a newspaper ash in the assistance of shaping of the molten glass.

Caliper: tongs that help create and control the molten glass piece.

Carving: removing excess molten glass off of the working piece.

Casing: placing an additional layer of glass over and existing layer of another color.

Chunked: a glass piece that has been badly damaged.

Cold working: any work, grinding, surfacing, and drilling that is done on the glass that has been finished after the annealing process is completed.  working without heat.

Flashing:  quickly placing the working glass into the glory hole to reheat the entire piece to assure that the glass will be pliable and keeping it safe from cracking.

Gaffer: the senior member of the blowing team in charge of the entire production of a project

Gilding: using leaf (golf or silver), painting or effects to add interest to the surface of the glass.

Glory hole: the opening of the furnace used to keep the glass hot and workable.  several different sizes may be attached to a large furnace or you might have only one size on a small one that rotate open and closed depending on were the glass project is at. the cylinder is usually heated up to 2300 degrees.

Iridescence:  spraying a shiny metallic finish onto hot glass.

Jack:  a tool shaped like huge tweezers used to manipulate hot glass.  making a jack line is often the line that will be used to separate the glass work from the blowpipe or pipe with the droplets of water.

Marver:  a flat steel plate that�s used for the picking up color chips or the shaping of molten glass on the end of a blowpipe or pipe with a rolling action.  a marver can also help in the uneven cooling of the glass for a desired effect.

Rag: thick layers of wet newspapers folded to provide a cool safe pad for the glassworker to shape the hot molten glass.

Sculpting: handmade free forming solid glass works designed while in molten glass form.

Shears:  glassmakers scissors that are used for the cutting, trimming and shaping of hot glass.  usually very primitive in design with heavy gage steel.

Thermal shock: the cause by a sudden shift of temperature hot or cold causing the glass to break, crack or shatter.


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