Glassblowing in Days Past

When one mentions glassblowing it is quite likely the average person might not have anything to picture in their mind. How does one blow glass? Why would one want to blow on glass? Did you just make that up? Glassblowing is actually one of the oldest art forms that are still practiced today in, essentially, the same matter it was originally invented for smoking devices. Nowadays, you can find even unique glass bongs for sale online and order it. Glassblowing is believed to have been invented two thousand years ago in what is now Lebanon.

The process primarily involves three physical assets; A heat source, glass, and a blowpipe. Historically the heat source would have been a coal or wood fire combined with a crucible whereas today it’s more likely going to be propane with a crucible or even just a hand torch without a crucible. It all depends on the size of the project. The source of glass historically might have been the very same sand blowing across the yards of those living in or near Lebanon. Today you are more likely to buy silica sand or salvage glass from other sources. The blowpipe, on the other hand, has remained effectively unchained since it’s original introduction. Nor has the fourth ingredient; tenacity.

Glassblowing has been a difficult task through history and that remains. The glass needs to be kept above two thousand degrees to stay molten yet each time the Glassblower blows into the glass to inflate its insides they are introducing the relatively cold air from their lungs into the glass which will lower the temperature quickly. This leads to a need to reheat the glass often. It would not be uncommon for there to be more time spent heating up the glass than there is time spent working the glass.

With the limited working time, the work must be kept delicate. As suggested by the names given the Glassblower is blowing into the blowpipe work air into the middle of the molten glass to inflate it. Inflating the glass only slightly while continuing to rotate it to ensure none of the sides get too thin, or the object is made uneven. Thin walls on your project may lead to multiple problems including the project ‘popping’ like an overinflated balloon, tearing under its own weight or even collapsing as you are trying to add more glass to expand the project. All these difficulties that come with attempting to carefully inflate and form what is essentially a molten liquid that cannot support its own weight are what keeps Glassblowing as a difficult art instead of something that can just be picked up by anyone. When you get past all that difficulty there also comes the cooling which needs to be done in a slow controlled fashion as well. Cooling too fast or cooling unevenly can lead to the item cracking or shattering. The loss of all that hard work would indeed be a sad punctuation go the experience.