A lot of things changes since we first discovered how to melt glass and to use it to create beautiful items. The ancient art of blowing glass evolved a lot even though some things remain the same. Hand-blown glass has always been appreciated for its beauty and uniqueness.
Glass blowing is an ancient art form which produces delicate display items as well as functional glass pieces. Professionals in the field have mastered the art of working with cane, blowing fused glass, sculpturing solid glass and working with powders and frits. Glass blowers have a keen awareness of the elements and processes used in the creation of their designs such as colour chemistry, mixology, colour rod and overlay.
A glass blower creates designs ranging from simple to complex, using molten glass. Glass jars and vases, jewellery, art work, and figurines all may emerge from the end of a narrow tube, the skill and tools of the glass blower determining the final shape of the glass.
Modern glass workers, like those of old, create everything from speciality artwork to utilitarian items. Creating hand blown glass art in unique shapes or made-to-order is a staple of many glass studios, but some may also use a glass-moulding technique to decrease work time and increase production of popular items. As the name implies, with glass-moulding the molten glass is blown into a pre-made mould instead of being fashioned by hand.
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Nowadays, many glass artisans are self-employed and work out of their own spaces, along with at least one helper and perhaps an apprentice. Since glass making requires three furnaces; a furnace, a crucible and the annealer – space is often at a premium in small studios.
Work areas include the long, flat marver surfaces, often aligned at a height that allows the worker to stand as they roll and shape the glass.
Glassblowing is perfect for the individual who likes to work alone to turn their creative visions into works of art. It requires hard work, innovative instincts, and an entrepreneurial spirit. If you exhibit these qualities, glassblowing might be the career for you.
What does it take to become successful in a business of glass blowing?
The number one skill you must possess is creativity. Without this, even the simplest piece won’t stand out to a collector. Glassblowing requires sculpting and the use of extreme heat. Therefore, it’s also important that you possess fine motor skills, patience, heat tolerance, and enjoy working with your hands.
In order to sell your work, you’ll also need to possess strong interpersonal skills and be able to promote yourself. Many artists tend to be reclusive, impeding them from approaching galleries and stores about selling your art.
There are literally thousands of products made of glass and you come in contact with them, see them or use them daily. Some of these are:
- Bottles and containers-press and blow or blow and blow.
- Light bulbs-ribbon machine or extrusion.
- Spot or floodlights-pressing.
- Candy dishes, ashtrays, nic-nacs, figurines-pressing.
- Eye glasses/sunglasses-pressing.
- Instrument lenses/scientific applications-pressing.
- Cookware (Pyrex)-pressing.
- Art-ware-hand blown.
- Decanters/drinking glasses-pressing.
- Windows-float process.
- Windshields/sidelights-float process-vacuum forming.
- Stained glass-pouring.
This is just a small sampling of the various items that are made out of glass and there are hundreds of different formulations used in the manufacture of glass products, each developed to impart certain physical or chemical properties in the finished product.
Here are some common practices and their results:
- Blown glass : wine glasses are hand blown and one can see /feel a punty mark on the bottom.
- Cast glass: usually things like sculptures are cast.
- Blow moulded glass: when you see a manufactured bottle, that’s machine blown and there’s a mould that the glass is blown into. You’ll see a mini parting line on the mould seams.
- Slumped glass : this is the process of taking glass and in the kiln slumping it. When you’re at a craft fair and you see those flattened wine bottle cheese plates, those are slumped glass.
- Neon glass: it is made out of neon.
- Plate glass: Light and glass panels are used to make intriguing interactive sculptures.
- Murano glass: These are lamp worked.
You, as a modern glass blower or glass-smiths of our times have many things to offer and each of them is unique in its own way and each little imperfection is a part of its charm and character.
Out of the many, there are many decorative glass vases that has a high market value which includes:
- The Zephyr vase whose deco design inspired by the iris and is the result of a complex and sophisticated process. The vase is made of hand blown glass and is hand cut and polished to a high gloss. The result is a very elegant and simple design with hand engraved details.
- Another good example is the series of Sassi glass vases and it’s made of vases created using a hand-blown body to which thick colored glass bands are applied.
- Another example is the Pinnacoli series, a collection of tall and slender vases created using the sommerso technique.
- Last but not the least, the collection of Aria vases, with their curvy lines and delicate silhouettes give the collection a really beautiful flair. The vases are made of hand-blown glass using the rigadin technique and they’re available in a variety of different colors and two finishes: satin and polished.
Glass blowers use their talents to hand craft a variety of blown glass designs. Designs range from glass pendants to tobacco pipes and contemporary art to be showcased in the customer’s home. Marketing this business can be a slow process when first starting out.
Many new glassblowers start out selling their work through a variety of online platforms and through local retailers such as gift shops.
It’s important to remember that the glassblowing community is very tight knit. Therefore, establishing yourself within the community is incredibly important for increasing the value of your brand.
Approach a respected artist in the community and inquire about becoming their apprentice. This affords you the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist, while getting to know others within the community.