What is glassblowing? Glassblowing is a technique that has been around for hundreds of years that involves the glass to be be superheated until it is molten and then expanded by blowing air, from a blowpipe, into the tube that expands the shape and allow it to be molded and shaped before it cools and hardens. Bongs are created through glassblowing techniques.
There is a special title for those who have the talent to form glass like this. They are commonly known as a glassblower. Occasionally people will also refer to them as a glassmith or a gaffer as well.
The specific purpose of glassblowing is heating the glass to a specific temperature depending on the size and thickness. The glass can’t be too cold or it will not expand or break and it can’t be too hot or it won’t work either. The heating of the glass effects the chemical bonds and weakens the way they are held together and shaped by blowing air into a pipe and formed. The glass hardens once it begins to cool down. When cooling the thinner layers of glass cool down faster than the thicker ones. The procedures on how to do it have evolved over hundreds of years creating two common forms used today. One is Free Blowing and the other is Mold Blowing.
Free Blowing is a method that originated in the middle east about the 1st century BC. This form is still widely used and very popular today. This procedure involves blowing of short puffs of air into the tube that has been heated. This part of the glass is referred to as the “gather”. The glassworker will use that expanded part of the glass blob and mold it into the shape or form that he is desiring.
The more skilled free blowers are able to create exact precision by the rotation of the pipe, controlling the heat and the precision controlled puffs while at the same time rotating the glass object to form and manipulate the glass before it cools.
Mold Blowing is an alternative form of glassblowing. It is almost as old as the original Free Blowing method but differs in the molding. This technique starts off with the similar heating of the glass but rather than creating and manipulating the glass by movement and temperatures it is inserted into a single-piece mold and as the air is blown into the glass it won’t form into a large bubble but will expand until it hits the mold shape. Once the glass is cooled and hardened it can be extracted from the mold. This is the technique that is often used to create tableware or vessels for storage. This method is easier in creating shapes and doesn’t require as much precision as the free blower method.
The mold blowing doesn’t only have to contain a singular mold as there are more advanced molds that can form together in order to create a more complicated or sophisticated modeled texture or design.