Glass blowing is a process that is used to shape glass. Limestone, sand, potash, and soda ash must first be combined and heated in a furnace at over 2000°F (1093.3°C). While the glass is in a molten state, it is shaped.
In order to perform glass blowing, the artist must have a blowpipe. The tip of the blowpipe is preheated by dipping it in the molten glass as it sits in the furnace. A ball of the molten glass is accumulated on the blowpipe and rolled onto a tool called a marver, which is usually a thick sheet of steel that lies flat.
The marver is important to the glass blowing process, because it creates a cool exterior layer on the glass and makes it possible to shape it. The artist blows air into the blowpipe in order to form a bubble with the molten glass. If the project calls for making a large piece, the artist can create additional bubbles over the original.
With the glass blowing process, a variety of shapes can be created. By using a tool called tweezers, the glass blower can pull the glass or create detail. He or she can also use special paddles made of either graphite or wood to design flat areas in the glass.
In order to manipulate the glass into various shapes, the glass blower uses tools called jacks. If he or she needs to make cuts in the piece, he or she uses what are called straight shears. Diamond shears, on the other hand, cut off large portions of glass. Once he or she has created a piece of the appropriate size, he or she moves the piece to a tool called a punty. Here, the glass blower can finish the top of the piece.
Glass blowing has a history dating back to approximately 200 BCE. In these early years, the glass shaped was formed around a core made of dung or mud. Typically, the process was used to create containers capable of holding liquids. Today, it is used to create works of art and craft projects. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the United States.