Its hard [for me] to believe I've never tried glass blowing after being around it for more than two decades. Well that all change a few weeks ago when I visited a friend in Western North Carolina who is, you guessed it, a glass blower. I've been friends with hot glass artist
and his wife Sally since 1988 and I have never had the inclination to give glass blowing a try until last month.
For starters, let me say, it's hard. Not that I ever thought glass blowing was easy, but every aspect of it has a multi-task challenge. Also, its incredibly HOT in the studio as the furnace(s) reach 2000+ degree temps.
That aside... I loved it!
It helped having the tutelage of a great craftsmen with you every step of the way. The actual process itself, was fascinating. With a long, somewhat heavy pipe, you gather molten glass around the tip as you nearly singe off your eyebrows from being so close to the furnace. Walking back to the work bench you need to turn the pipe nonstop so that the hot glass won't slope down. You then proceed to blow air to enlarge the bulb of hot glass on the tip. Not at all an easy feat. It does not blow up like a balloon as I thought. To reheat the glass, you stick the you pipe in the glory hole, yep sounds dirty. [The glory hole is a second furnace specifically designed for reheating.] Pull out of the glory hole [still sounds dirty] and return to the work bench to blow through the pipe again. And repeat!
After numerous trips to the glory hole, I produced the most hideous looking, pinched-pot vessel. Truly ugly. Too ugly to even show you. Trust me.
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed myself and discovered an even greater respect and appreciation for the art form. I understand now why so many fall in love with the art of glass blowing.
If you ever have the opportunity to try it, do so.