Yesterday I had the chance at Circle Craft Christmas Market to take part in glass blowing with Malcolm Macfadyen. On Thursday I hung out at the Totally Amazing Glass!! stage and watched while some other students participated in the Ballz of Fire!! workshops. I have been working with Circle Craft on their social media and blogging and they suggested I try the glass blowing workshop. [Click here to view the blog post I made about Totally Amazing Glass!! at Circle Craft]

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Here I am heating the glass on the blow pipe in the Glory Hole of the furnace. We started with a clear blob of molten glass that moved like honey.

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Then I brought it over to the table (called a marver) where I’d sprinkled the glass. I chose to do a swirl design — if I’d just wanted a band or overall coverage, I would roll the molten glass over the coloured glass. Then I took the blow pipe back into the glory hole to heat it some more.

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Here is where I put the twist in the glass. The instructor, Malcolm Macfadyen of Totally Amazing Glass!! was talking me through the whole process with his assistant, Peter. I was really surprised how quickly the glass began to cool after being removed from the furnace. Also, although the hot glass moved like honey or molasses, it didn’t stick to the marver (metal work table). After I did the initial twist, we put it back in the furnace and then Malcolm suggested using another tool to twist it.

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Here, Peter had put the glass back in the furnace, then Malcolm instructed me to clamp the end of the glass with large metal shears while Peter twisted it. This put a really good twist in the glass ball. It also made a sort of nobbin on the bottom of the ball, which Malcolm just tapped off and shattered. Crazy! Then Peter handed the blow pipe off to Malcolm who heated it up and then blew a quick starter bubble into the ball (called a parison).

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Malcolm heated up the glass ball some more then brought it over to me at the work bench again. I held the wet cherry wood block to help shape the glass ball. It basically has a U-shaped groove where you sit the molten glass and shape the sides and round the bottom. The steam coming off is from the hot glass on the wet wood. After we perfected the shape, Malcolm heated the glass in the furnace again. (There was lots of back and forth like that).

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Then Malcolm attached his noodle to the blow pipe and began blowing the glass. I held the jack (like a giant pair of tweezers) and created a jack line to shape the glass ball off the end of the blow pipe.

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Once we had a desireable size, Malcolm brought the ball over to the work table and as it cooled, he created a sharper jack line and tapped the ball off. Then Peter quickly heated some more glass from the pot (where they keep the molten liquid glass) and they made the little bauble top so it could be a glass ornament. Then as quickly as possible, they put the glass ball into the annealing oven (like a potter’s kiln) so that they could control how fast the glass cooled. If you just left it out in the open, the glass would cool too quickly and crack. The annealing oven’s temperature is slowly decreased over several hours.

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Here is my finished bauble!! I chose cobalt blue and cranberry. We started with just clear glass. As you can see the tip is very very twisty which is the result of clamping it with the sheers.