I've been blowing glass for a very short amount of time, and figured it would be nice to show a simple tutorial on making something easy like a Christmas ornament, that you can give to anyone you wanted.

I'm currently taking this glass blowing class at San Francisco State University, it's offered as part of their 'extended learning' program (which means you have to pay for it separate from university fees (i.e. they make more money from it), and it also allows you to take classes while not being a member of the student body(which is really cool)).

The most difficult part of learning how to, and actually blowing glass is finding a place to do it. You can look in the yellow pages, search google or try putting your zip code into this search in order to try to find hot shops in your local area. There's usually someone blowing glass in most major cities (and quite a few non-major ones).

When you find a place with the tools, contact them and see how much it would cost to stop by and use their equipment. Several places I've seen only require you take a basic class at their centers in order to come back and rent shop time.

Step 1: Materials

First and foremost, you're going to need a glass furnace. If you have this, you can find a work around for pretty much every other tool (except for a blow pipe), but without molten glass, there is no blowing of glass.

The second most important thing you need is a blowing pipe. You can see punties and blow pipes in one of the images below, punties don't have a hole through the center of the pipe while blow pipes too.

Other tools that will come in handy:
Annealer (an oven to cool off the glass)
Gloryhole (for warming up the glass if it gets cool, you can use the furnace if you don't have one)
Diamond Sheers
Wood Blocks (Not needed, but used for shaping the glass into a spherical design. This can also be accomplished on a marver, with jacks or just by holding the blow pipe correctly while rotating it)
Marver (Not really needed.  For our purposes, we placed the Frit on the marver to pick it up.)
Frax (Also called ceramic blanket)(If you'd prefer not to use this, find a similar materical that won't absorb the heat from your piece and also won't catch fire, like Kevlar)
Mold (for support)
Frit (powdered colored glass)
Ornament holder (a stick with a piece of wire sticking off the end of it, for picking up the ornament)
Sunglasses (looking at bright lights hurts the eyes)

All of these tools can help, but depending on what you're doing, and what designs you want to give your ornament, you may not need to use all of them.

this is super cool
the melting point for glass is around 3133 degrees F so you might be able to use an acetylene torch<br />
<em>Around</em> 3133F, how much around +/-?<br /> <br /> L<br />
Actually the melting point for glass depends on what is in the glass.&nbsp; See <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass#Glass_ingredients">wikipedia</a> for more info.<br /> <br /> For glass blowing, Batch (the glass that it used) gets melted down around 2000 degrees.&nbsp; <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/decorating/glassblowing2.htm">How Stuff Works</a> has more info if you're curious.<br />
f or C?
I thought around 2000 was a bit more like it, but with a figure given to the precision of 1 degree, I was curious as to where the comment came from.<br /> I have thoughts about playing with glass...<br /> <br /> Thanks<br /> <br /> L<br />
It depends on the type of glass.&nbsp; I gave the melting temperature for pure silicon dioxide.&nbsp; <br />
Thanks for the reply I was interested as to where the value applied, you know &quot;glass&quot; isn't pure silica?<br /> <br /> L<br />
I do know that it is not pure silica.&nbsp; I cave the temp for pure silicon dioxide because there are so many additives and impurities that glass can have that can change its physical properties.<br />
Yes, you saw <strong>Stump</strong>'s comment below?<br /> <br /> L<br />
A really neat instructable! <br /> <br /> I will say this though - nothing against traditional glass blowing if that is what you want to do... and really this is jsut a repeat of words from a long career glass blower i met as a kid... when i wanted to take it up because i thought it so cool to do.<br /> <br /> Actually i can't remember exactly what he said but denied teaching me due to the hazards of traditional glass blowing.<br /> <br /> The glass has a vapor and you will suck some in apparently... and this really messes up your lungs. In essence it's vaporized glass and it cools and solidifies in your lungs or so he said. Eventually - if done long enough - you'll die from it.<br /> <br /> I don't know - not a Doctor or preaching here - there are new ways to blow glass i understand with out actually putting your lips up to the hollow rod to blow it. It was available then but he prefered to do it traditioanlly for two reasons the first being - He could feel the glass as he blew it&quot; He was an artist of glass blowing great shop he had!) Secondly his lungs were so messed up from glass blowing there was no reversting the damage. He died a year later due to what ever it does - so... i tend to believe his reasonings for not teaching me to blow glass in a traditional manor.<br /> <br /> That said - still a great tutorial - love to see some more of what you've made.<br />
I've spoken with my instructor, and several students in the class that have been blowing for more then 20 years, and they all concur that there are only a few times when you have to worry about glass getting inhaled, and you know how to caution yourself against them.<br /> <br /> When you add glass to the furnace, when you blow glass so thin it pops (or you shatter your glass), and if you're using glass powder in your piece are the three instances you want to be extremely careful.&nbsp; You want to wear a respirator that's rated for fine particulates when you're doing any of this (or in the case of shattering it, you just want to leave the room).<br /> <br /> Most glass shops are very well ventilated for just that reason and have a blower that is constantly pulling air out of the room, so if glass does shatter, or you get some dust in the air, it should be out soon.&nbsp; In the shop I blow in, you're required to do any glass powder handling behind the blowers so that you keep everyone on the opposite side of the room safe.<br /> <br /> I agree there are most definitely dangers, but so long as you know what they are, and are constantly aware of your surroundings (ever vigilant), you should be okay.<br />
Hi - and thanks for the reply.<br /> <br /> As mentioned i have no clue what the dangers are that the blower i mentioned are or that he died from - but -He mentioned it and he died so i take there are dangers or long term effects associated with certain glasses and crystals.<br /> <br /> From what i remember of his tiny shop - he blew a lot of crystal. He blew a lot of glass period. Made a lot of those freehand style glass/crystal animals character things.<br /> <br /> I don't remember a lot of ventalation - but I'm sure he had what he needed - his furance was pretty much at the front or open i should say - when you went in the entrance door so you could watch him work. It was kinda like a house but made into a glass blowing shop and display store for his work. It was really neat.<br /> <br /> I don't believe it was the glass so much as the vapors from the glass he worked with that he was talking about. I've heard of something called &quot;Scilososis&quot; which is supposedto be like Black lung with out the black part which is a glass blowers thing. Like black lung is to a Coal miner.<br /> <br /> Also the colors vapors are supose to be toxic once heated. Also working with lead glass which i understand realeases Florine or working with Borosilicate glass also releases something..?<br /> <br /> As you mention a well ventallated area is key and knowing what does what; and being educated in your field of interest is important.<br /> <br /> I&nbsp;did see a show on glas blowing where they used some type of air hose to blow the glass rather than using the mouth - perhaps due to the type glass they were using - i don't recall buthtey did mention they switched due to sometype of danger workingwith the glass and using a traditional means of blowing via the blow pipe and mouth.<br /> <br /> A also mentioned - i'm no doctor - i think its facinating and may try it since obviously from what you tell me - they have recognized issues and obviously taken steps to prevent problems for the glass blower.<br /> I'm sure glass content has changed as well - since the old days - this guy was pretty old. And blew glass from what i remember him tellingme his whole life since he was able to. I think his dad was a glass blower as well.<br /> <br /> Again thanks for the reply and love your work - and seeing the ics you posted of you working.<br /> <br /> -chase-<br />
I&nbsp;forgot to mention this before!!!<br /> Sicilosis - also known as 'Potters Rot' - caused by inhaling silica particles,&nbsp; such as those fine powders Stump had mentioned...<br /> Nasty stuff, that, but easy to work around with proper masks &amp; ventilation.<br /> That's very likely the problem your friend had...I can see why you'd be concerned!<br /> &nbsp;Be well!<br /> Janice<br />
I think it's important that i add here - because i certainly do not mean to, if I am, to come off as some negative type with warnings of dangers on anybodies instrucable or hobby.<br /> <br /> For any one reading this instructable and the comments made - my story relates to a professional glass blower that did glass blowing his whole life and retired with a little glass blowing shop.<br /> <br /> Which means he was doing it 40 - 50 60 hrs a week - he did this for a living. I'm sure the danger s though the same are much less for the hobbiest who maybe immersed in the craft perhaps a couple hours a week or month.<br /> <br /> My real point here to the writer StumpChuckman - is that seeing this instructable reminded me of a very interesting old man i had the pleasure of meeting for a few weeks or Month or two when i was a kid, who's craft intreaged me enough to inquire about learning it from him. It was sad that when i went back to see him i learned of his death - something which he spoke foo the dangers and why he wouldn't teach me his craft.<br /> <br /> None the less a very interesting craft and i admire those that partake in it... I probably should have kept my mouth shut about any dangers as i'm sure as mentioned are minimal at best to the hobbiest. But it was part of the memeory i had of a very interesting artist and charactor in my life. so i relayed it in full.<br /> <br /> Any how - enough said - and typed and type-o'd ;0) <br /> <br /> Thanks for the instructable StumpChuckman - and the jar in memory.<br /> <br /> hope to see more from you - and more of your work as mentioned.<br /> <br /> Happy Holidays all<br /> <br /> -chase-<br />
No worries about warning about the dangers, that's always important for people to know.&nbsp; I'm just really happy that a few people seem to like the instructable!<br /> <br /> I'm going to try to do some more next semester...but it's hard to sync up times with other people and ask them to do certain things over, and over again if the picture don't come out.<br /> <br /> Thanks again for the kind words!&nbsp; I also wanted to thank you for sharing your story, I don't imagine it was an easy thing to do.<br />
No not hard at all - not a depressing story for me at all -&nbsp; great memory to remember happy to be reminded of it, brought a smile to my face actually.<br /> <br /> yeah i understand about the pic thing all too well. ;0)<br /> <br /> again thanks and can't wait to see your new stuff.<br /> <br /> -chase-<br />
Hi Chase,<br /> <br /> Yes, it can be dangerous, however, precautions have to be made and stringently adhered to!<br /> (I've been blowing for over 30 years, and still have fine lungs, even if I do say so myself!)<br /> <br /> I'm wondering perhaps if, due to this was way in the past, the ventilation &amp;&nbsp;masks he used weren't...up to par, so to speak.<br /> <br /> Modern glassblowing using old techniques is practiced everywhere - but with proper safety measures in place.<br /> <br /> Nice that you mention safety though, I have been to places that I wouldn't breath in if my life depended on it, and you can never be safe enough.<br /> (who wants lead, silica dust, or enamels in their lungs??<br /> <br /> Be well!<br /> Janice<br /> www.bonecholampworks.com<br /> <br />
Well, My biggest problem is not everyone can afford a furnace for such work... maybe there should be an instructable on just that... the furnace for glass blowing, build your own,,,,
I had to come back and look again at your beautiful work
Nice work. <br /> <br /> What is frex?<br />
I think it might be the slang term (or possibly a proprietary term?) for ceramic blanket.&nbsp; Since everyone in my class calls it that though, it's all I really know it by.<br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.armilcfs.com/pages/Blankets.htm" rel="nofollow">Here's a link to more details about it though.</a><br />
Thanks, very much. We the not-<span class="short_text" id="result_box"><span style="background-color: rgb(235,239,249);" title="angl&oacute;fono">Anglophone have these questions. <br /> </span></span>
It is actually called &quot;frax&quot;.
Hah!&nbsp; I managed to spell it correct everywhere but the materials list (go figure) and step two.<br /> <br /> Here's hoping there's no more blatant spelling atrocities!<br />
I'm working on a lampworking 'ible that peole can do for about $50 at home. <br /> Fuel air torch and soft glass.<br /> Boro with oxygen too.<br /> <br /> So do you do this, or did you just take the photos?
I do this, though the lampworking sounds intriguing.&nbsp; I tend to try work smaller then I should blowing, and I've heard that in order to do a lot of the things I'm interested in attempting to make, lampworking is the way to go.<br /> <br /> It's easier to take photo's of other people, then trying to set up a tripod and hoping I get the perfect shot of myself in the middle of something important.<br /> <br /> I look forward to seeing your instructable!<br />
You'll love lampworking!<br /> The detail that can be achieved in a smaller form is very rewarding, and small vessels and such so much fun.<br /> If I can help, lemme know!<br /> Janice<br /> bonecholampworks.com<br /> <br /> (I have an instructable for a mini home made kiln - if anyone is interested!)<br />
Sorry it took so long to get back, I just took a look at your instructable and I that it was awesome!&nbsp; Thanks so much for sharing!<br />
Hi Janice,<br /> Just reading thru all of these posts re: glassblowing and lampworking and came across your comment about having an instructable for a mini home made kiln - I am definitely interested in having a copy of that if you're game with sharing it :)<br /> Many thanks :)<br /> Janet<br />
Hi Janet,<br /> I sent you a message with the link...<br /> <br />
ooh! let me know when you get that done. I have a hothead torch, but I don't think it is strong enough to get a large enough amount of glass hot enough to blow :( i can form hollow vessels, but haven't had much luck blowing. <br /> On this site, there are hollow glass rods to make blowing glass easier (called <font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="-1"><b><a rel="nofollow">Glaskolben</a></b></font>:<br /> http://heritageglass.com/index2.htm<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="-1"><b /></font>
Shortone...it's really difficult to blow with soft glass...<br /> (I've been working in hot glass for over 30 years)<br /> You'll pretty much need boro to blow - unless you're working very small, and are quite skilled.&nbsp; Hotheads don't supply enough heat to work with boro, you could move to a starter torch, say, perhaps, a nortel minor bench burner, with oxy tanks, or an oxy concentrator.<br /> <br /> Do keep in mind though, that the very same rules apply with lampworking as they do with glassblowing.&nbsp; Ventilate, wear a mask, and be safe!<br /> <br /> Good Luck!<br />
I've actually been able to do SOME blowing, but it hasn't been very controlled. Why is boro so much better to blow?&nbsp;I have been working very small, but can't say that I'm quite skilled...I&nbsp;have made some bubbly things, though, and they are becoming rounder with practice. Unfortunately, I can't afford a bigger torch or the concentrator or tanks to fuel it, so I guess I just have to wait until art school for the fun big stuff! :D<br /> Thanks for the tips,<br /> Betsy <br />
What coe are you working in?<br /> (or the name of the glass - soft, hard?)<br /> Boro is harder, has a different coe, and holds to larger work better, seemingly, than soft glasses do.<br /> Have you tried coiling glass onto your blowpipe, say, for example, how a potter would coil up a pot before hand shaping it on the wheel?<br /> (not good at descriptions here)&nbsp; Then making the coils smaller until you close up the bottom of the &quot;vessel&quot; - melting all the coils lightly together, and lightly puffing as you pull out the bottom?<br /> Sometimes that helps with uniformity...but, you're right, it does take some practice either way!<br /> Good luck, hope it works for you!<br /> Janice<br /> www.bonecholampworks.com<br />
<p>I&nbsp;use COE 104- soft glass.<br /> I have made small vessels using the coil method- i'm actually working on an instructable for them. unfortunately, i can't get them heated enough to blow very much--my torch just isn't very hot.&nbsp;I want to go over to my friend's house and use her big torch and give it a try, now that i've had a lot of practice with coiling on my little torch. <br /> thanks Janice!</p>
Hey...Just a thought...<br /> <br /> Have you ever tried a 'fireworks' torch?<br /> It's a torch, a long the same lines as a hothead, sorta!<br /> <br /> I sell kits to my students, and that's my preffered torch, as it has a sort of disk<br /> on it that allows you to somewhat adjust the oxy intake...<br /> I was really impressed with this torch, even though on first inspection, I wondered about the plastic housing.&nbsp; It looked rough, however, I have a number of them around, and some of them are a couple of years old and still going strong!<br /> I do alot of sculptural/hollow work, and most often this torch can do the job, as well, although a bit slower, than a more advanced torch.<br /> (noisier too, but, that's life!)<br /> Hooks up to a small tank, or hose to bigger tank, just like a hothead.<br /> <br /> Delphi glass sells them, among others...<br /> <br /> In case you're interested:<br /> http://www.delphiglass.com/flameworking/torches-accessories/fireworks-torch-head.html<br /> (and, Wow!&nbsp; They've gone way down in price since last time I checked!&nbsp; WooHoo!&nbsp; Time to order a few!!!)<br /> <br /> Be well,<br /> Janice<br /> www.bonecholampworks.com<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
Sorry it took so long to reply--i finally found a computer that will let me see what I am typing! unfortunately, i really can't afford a new torch (heck, i'm going to be a college student in a year!) but thanks so much for your input for the future. for now, i think i'll just have to wait until college, when i can really play with some fun stuff.
Does anybody have an idea to jury-rig a furnace?<br />
Yes.&nbsp; In fact, a lot of glass equipment is homemade, however,&nbsp;I can't say I can help you further than that...<br /> <br /> Well, other than to try google searches...<br />
This really inspired me.&nbsp; Your glass work is beautiful. Thank you!
Wow...thank you very much!<br />
Wow this is really amazing, that's highly skilled of you to be able to do this!<br />
can you blow glass pipes?<br /> that would be cool. sell them to friends:D<br />
You can most definitely blow pipes with glass...<br /> <br /> ...however, it's not an easy thing to do, and you're probably not going to make any money trying to sell them, if that's the goal.<br />
How would one blow glass pipes? would a specialized mold have to be used? just curious. i have one and it is beautifully blown.<br />
most glass pipes are made from a different kind of glass, called borosilicate, and it uses very different tools and technique. usually benchmade with a torch burning&nbsp;o2 and another fuel gas.
That really depends on the type of glass you're using, and the type of glass work you're doing.&nbsp; What I'm doing, it would be incredibly difficult.&nbsp; Working small is not something people tend to do in the shop I work at.&nbsp; It can be done though.&nbsp; One way is to make pieces separately and either hot or cold work them together (different techniques for different purposes).&nbsp; Putting them together hot, you can try to take away all the seams and make it look like one piece, but there's more of a chance of losing the overall design.<br /> <br /> There's other kinds of glass that is much more stable at changing temperatures that people tend to work on benches...this is more likely how yours was made.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tk-It6aXy0" rel="nofollow">Youtube has a good two part video of someone showing you how to.</a><br />
&nbsp;A few things you may have forgotten to mention:<br /> 1. &nbsp;Keep the blocks moist. &nbsp;Not wet, but moist. &nbsp;If they start smoking (not steaming) or catching on fire, you're doing it wrong.<br /> <br /> 2. &nbsp;There are different kinds of glass. Keep this in mind when choosing colors. &nbsp;Certain kinds of glass only work with certain kinds of colors, depending on if they are silicon, uranium or whatever... &nbsp;Frankly, such stuff was confusing for me, so I kind of understand why you left it out... &nbsp;(and no, I have never used uranium glass)<br /> <br /> Also, different kinds of glass will heat faster or slower, depending on the kind (at the glass shop I was at: blue glass was the fastest, crystal was 2nd fastest, and green was slowest, if I remember correctly...)<br /> <br /> 3. &nbsp;The annealer will not insure your piece will survive. &nbsp;It will increase the probability of your piece not gaining stress. &nbsp;If my memory is correct, the thicker the piece, the more likely there will be stress.<br /> <br /> <br /> Another note:<br /> You do realize that you can build your own glass equipment, right? &nbsp;The glass shop I worked at in Hawaii was almost fully DIY, if not, fully. &nbsp;Perhaps only the tools were bought... &nbsp;Mind you, the cost is quite high for maintenance...<br /> <br /> Good Instructable. &nbsp;Now, explain cold shop!<br /> <br />

About This Instructable




Bio: You can see my personal website at sneezingturtle.com.
More by StumpChunkman:Italian Meatballs Rubik's Cube Throwie Instructions Making a Stop Motion LED Throwie 
Add instructable to: