The Art of Glassblowing

Glass bubble on the end of a blowpipe.

Glass blowing is an art form that was invented thousands of years ago. The ancient Syrians were some of the first people to practice glassblowing as we know it today. They discovered that melted glass could be blown from the open end of a steel tube and made into different shapes. Today, artists come up with ideas and use blown glass to make vases, ornaments, jewelry, and other beautiful things.

Glass is made of raw materials like sand, limestone, and soda ash. Solid pieces of glass are heated in a very hot furnace.  The glass is melted into a liquid state called molten glass. The furnace heats the glass to a temperature of 2,000 degrees. That’s as hot as lava! This temperature keeps the glass soft and workable. The furnace can hold three hundred pounds of molten glass.  Glassblowers use a long metal tube called a blowpipe to gather the glass. They place the blowpipe into the furnace and roll it, collecting hot molten glass on the end of the tube.  There is a mouthpiece on the other end of the blowpipe. Glass blowers blow air into the pipe. The air creates a bubble. A bench is used to support the blowpipe while the artist molds the bubble with a special spoon-shaped tool. When the desired glass form is created, it is placed into a cooling oven called an annealer. The glass stays in the annealer for several hours where it slowly cools. Cooling slowly prevents the class from cracking.

Dale Chihuly is a famous glass blower.  He creates delicate glass structures in bright colors and fun shapes. Dale Chihuly is known all over the world for his large-scale glass creations.

What Do You Think?  Would you like to learn how to blow glass? Do some research about Dale Chihuly or try to find glassblowing classes in your area.

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