Hot Glass Studio FAQ


This list of Stuart Wiltshire Glassblowing Frequently Asked Questions is only a start, We will continue to update this FAQ integrating new answers to your questions.
If you can not find the answer to your query do contact Stuart.

Glass blowing industry basic information
1. What is glass blowing?
2. What is free blowing?
3. What is mold blowing?
4. What is the job title for someone that makes glass?

Hot glass studio job descriptions and glass blowing tools
. What is a pontil mark?
2. What is the furnace?
3. What is the glory hole?
4. What is the annealer?
5. What is the bench?
6. What is a blowpipe?
7. How do you transfer the glass from the crucible to the blowpipe?
8. What is a marver?
9. What is marvering?
10. What is a paddle?
11. What are straight shears?
12. What are diamond shears?
13. What are tweezers used for?
14. What are jacks?
15. What are blocks?
16. What are crimps?
17. What is a fork?
18. What is an optic mold?
19. What is a knock off table?

Handmade glass blowing colouring, techniques and glass patterns
1. How is the glass coloured?
2. What is frit?
3. What are coloured bars?
4. What are canes?
5. How are canes made?

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Glass blowing industry basic information

Q. What is glass blowing?
A. It is a glass forming technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble, using a blow pipe. Then more glass is gathered over the bubble to form the final piece of glassware.

Q. What is free blowing?
A. The process of free-blowing involves the glassmaker blowing of short puffs of air through a blowpipe into a molten portion of glass called a gather. The glassblower can then quickly inflate the molten glass and work it into a desired object or vessel.

Q. What is mold blowing?
A. A glob of molten glass is gathered on the end of the blowpipe and is then inflated into a mold often made of metal or wood.

Q. What is the job title for someone that makes glass?
A. The person who blows glass is called a glassblower, glassmith, or gaffer.

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Hot glass studio job descriptions and the blass blowing industry tooling

Q. What is a pontil mark?
A. A Pontil mark or punt mark is found on the base of glassware, it is usually  an irregular or ring shaped scar where the pontil, punty or punt was broken from a work of blown glass.

Q. What is the furnace?
A. It is simply the crucible (a large ceramic bowl) of molten glass contained within a casing that has an opening (doorway) and is usually heated by gas Stuart Wiltshires furnace can be seen at the back of the workshop surrounding by white brickwork. A constant temperature is maintained of around 1200 °C and the furnace runs 24/7 throughout the year.

Q. What is the glory hole?
a. The glory hole is used to re-heat glass during the making of a piece of glassware. It is commonly a round, insulated cylinder it has a circular entrance at the front with doors  and runs on gas. The glassblower rotates the blowpipe while it rests on metal stands called yokes until it is hot enough to continue working with.

Q. What is the annealer?
A. The annealer (sometimes called a lehr) is used to slowly cool the temperature of glassware to avoid thermal shock, cracks or to become unstable, a set temperature is maintained in the annealing oven throughout the working day then turned off overnight to allow the cooling process. Stuart Wiltshire's Annealer can be found at the back of the workshop and resembles a "fridge like" structure.

Q. What is the bench?
A. The bench is a glassblower's work area, and has a place for the glassblower to sit, a surface for the handheld tools, and two metal rails that the pipe or punty rolls on while the blower shapes the glass.

Q. What is a blowpipe?
A. It is hollow metal rod, on one end of it the glass is gathered and formed at the other a blow hole which Stuart blows air through to form the glassware.

Q. How do you transfer the glass from the crucible to the blowpipe?
A. Molten glass is similar to honey and you gather the glass in the same way as taking honey from a jar, by dipping the end of the blowpipe into the crucible and turning it until you have gathered enough glass.

Q. What is a marver?
A. A marver is a table with a thick flat sheet of steel or other similar metal material on the top, using for marvering (rolling and shaping) the glass.

Q. What is marvering?
A. Marvering means rolling and shaping the hot glass, when the glass is rolled a cooler skin forms on the exterior of the molten glass.

Q. What is a paddle?
A. A paddle is a piece of flat wood or graphite with a handle attached used for flattening the bottom of objects such as vases.

Q. What are straight shears?
A. Oversized scissors, used for making linear cuts.

Q. What are diamond shears?
A. These are diamond shape when partially open and are used for cutting off large amounts of glass.

Q. What are tweezers used for?
A. They are used to pick out details, remove glass imperfections or to pull on the glass.

Q. What are jacks?
A. They are very large oversized tweezer like tools with two blades, which are used for forming shape in the glass or selectively cooling the glass and putting creases in the neck of vessels where they are to break for the transfer onto another rod for the project to be completed.

Q. What are blocks?
A. They are scoop like wooden tools made from water soaked apple, cherry or pear wood, and are used to shape and cool the glass.

Q. What are crimps?
A. Crimps add decorative elements to glass. Crimps are available with various patterns and textures. Hot glass is squeezed between the textured surfaces of this tool, leaving patterned indentations.

Q. What is a fork?
A. It is a long metal rod with a two pronged forked end on it, used to pick up and load glassware (often goblets or wine glasses) into the annealing oven.

Q. What is an optic mold?
A. Optic molds are used to add ribs, indentations or textures to glass projects. There are a wide range of molds each resulting in a different effect when used.

Q. What is a knock off table?
A. The knock off table is covered with a thick sheet of woven silica fabric matting that can stand the heat of a freshly made glass object. An object can be knocked off a rod onto the table so that a blow torch can be used to soften any sharp edges on the pontil mark before the glass is placed into the annealing oven.

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Handmade glass blowing colouring, tecniques and glass patterns

Q. How is the glass coloured?
A. The glass is coloured using cane, frit or rods/bars.

Q. What is frit?
A. Frit is coloured glass ranging in size from fine powder to small gravel sized pieces, hot glass is rolled through the frit which is laid out on the marver, the frit then melts into the molten glass when heated in the glory hole.

Q. What are coloured bars?
A. They are concentrated bars of colour that can be cut to the size required for the project. The coloured bar is then heated and usually overlaid onto clear glass.

Q. What are canes?
A. Canes are lengths of glass ranging from anything from 2mm upwards in diameter and are cut to the length required and laid onto a metal or ceramic plates and heated before the gather of glass is rolled over the cane marver.

Q. How are canes made?
A. Stuart makes the canes from coloured rod, two people are required for the task one to hold the punty rod that had the molten glass attached to it and Stuart Wiltshire who will pull out the glass and stretch it often to the full length of the workshop. When it is cooled it is cut into equal size lengths and stored.

Interested in learning glass blowing? Take a look at the Stuart Wiltshire Glass Blowing Workshops

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