Their Breath and a few Simple Tools

Their Breath and a few Simple Tools

Their Breath and a few Simple Tools

It would appear as magic to those who witness the making of hot blown glass for the very first time.

The clandestine wielding of a molten liquid into those delicate and ethereal shapes, a process that almost defies the laws of gravity and would seem to deceive the eye as you stand there watching the surely impossible transformation of liquid to solid glass in moments.

And what are the instruments that would allow the extraordinary extraction of these subtle and seductive shapes from the ferocious and fiery furnaces of ‘the glassmaker’. The answer ‘their breath and a few simple tools’.

The breath of the glassmaker is the life of every piece of glass. The air that begins and expands each piece is the most essential tool in the entire process; that is quite literally breath taking.

The simple tools are those that were used by the Romans over two thousand years ago, and very little has changed since.

The Furnace

A red hot cauldron of liquid glass that glows at 1250°c. The heat is intense as the glassmakers dip in and extract the molten substance needed to form each piece.

 Once the furnace is fired up it burns constantly day and night keeping the glass in a permanently liquid state until the pot that holds the glass eventually begins to crack and the ephemeral flames must go out until the pot has been replaced and the furnace restarted and returned to its roaring glow.

The Irons

There are two types of irons used; the pontil iron, used to bring gathers of molten glass from the furnace to the workbench.

The blowing iron, which is hollow. This is used to blow the shapes and support the glass as it takes shape. Once the iron has hot glass on the end of it, it must be continually spun round and round through the fingers of the maker lest it would run from the iron to the floor like honey.

 

The Shears

 

The shears are for cutting excess pieces of hot glass from the pontil iron in order to make the perfect connection between the iron and the piece which is nearly finished. At this point the piece is attached to the pontil iron and released from the blowing, quite a spectacle as the piece switches from one iron to the other.

Other shears are used to form handles and create twists in the glass.

 

Tongs and Pinchers

Tongs are used to develop the glass; to bend handles into shape, to pinch out the lip of a jug, to open out a bowl or to form the cup of a beaker or a wineglass.

 

The Foot Tool

The foot tool is used to shape the foot of a wineglass or stemmed bowl. When a globule of hot glass is added to the stem during the making, it is flattened out and shaped with this tool.

 

The precious art of glassblowing is a rare breed these days. With only a handful of glass blowing studios in the whole of Ireland. Those who are lucky enough to witness the fascinating art of glassblowing will without a doubt never forget the experience.

The ancient tools and method, untouched perfection for 2000 years.

 

 

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