This Instructable will guide you through the process of making a glassblown pumpkin. This project is good for beginning gaffers and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. With a bit of practice, it won't be long before you've made the perfect autumn decoration!
Note: This Instructable is written for beginner gaffers or those interested in the art of glassblowing. In order to improve the helpfulness of my pictures, I decided not to use color for this demo, as color makes it difficult to see some of the structural features of a molten piece. I would definitely recommend using color in pumpkins, as it adds a lot to the final piece!
Step 1: Safety
In order to avoid terrible accidents involving molten glass, be sure to take precautions to minimize potential harm to yourself or others:
- Always wear clothes made from non-synthetic fibers such as cotton when working in the glassblowing studio. Synthetic fibers can melt onto the skin causing severe burns.
- Always wear safety glasses in the glassblowing studio, in case of hot glass popping into the face.
- Always wear closed-toed shoes and long pants in the glassblowing studio, just in case hot glass explodes near your legs.
- Stay hydrated when working in the glassblowing studio to avoid heat exhaustion.
- Be sure to check whether or not an item is hot before grabbing it to avoid burns to the hands.
- Ensure that the studio is properly ventilated, as glass particles are very harmful to the respiratory system.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
In order to create a quality pumpkin, you'll need the appropriate glassblowing tools.
- Safe glassblowing area
- Glass Furnace
- Glassblowing bench
- Diamond Shears
- Punty Rod
- Optic Mold
- Wooden Paddle
- Bowl with fiberglass insulation
- Insulated mitts
- Small metal rod
- A glassblowing partner
Step 3: Initial Gather
a. Using a blowpipe, take a medium-sized gather of glass and marver for about 10 seconds.
b. Blow a small starter bubble into the glass.
c. Marver the glass for about 15 seconds.
Step 4: Second Gather
a. Take another medium-sized gather of glass over the initial glass.
b. Marver the glass for about 5 seconds.
Note: It is at this point that color would be added to the piece. This is done by lightly pressing the molten glass into powdered or crushed color.
Step 5: Using the Optic Mold
a. Holding the blowpipe completely vertical, place the glass into the bottom of the optic mold.
b. Blow gently, maintaining some downward pressure on the pipe for about 5 seconds.
c.Lift the blowpipe and glass out of the optic mold.
Step 6: Making the Jack Line
Using the jacks, make a jack line about a half inch away from the end of the blowpipe.
Step 7: Blowing the Pumpkin Into Shape
a. Stand on the bench and hold the blowpipe vertically onto a paddle.
b. Allowing for some downward pressure onto the paddle, blow gently into the blowpipe until the desired pumpkin shape is achieved.
Step 8: Breaking the Pumpkin Into an Annealer
a. Pour water onto the entire jack line around the top of the pumpkin.
b. Open the annealer. Place the pumpkin inside the annealer.
c. Strike the blowpipe gently with a wooden paddle, breaking the pumpkin off into the annealer.
Step 9: Making a Stem
a. Using a punty, take a large gather of glass.
b. Marver glass for about 10 seconds.
c. Place punty and glass into optic mold (not shown, but as before, hold the punty vertically for a few seconds before removing). Meanwhile, have your partner remove the pumpkin from the annealer using the insulated mitts and place it into a bowl with fiberglass insulation.
Step 10: Attaching the Stem
a. Take the punty and place the end of the molten glass over the hole at the top of the pumpkin, fusing the glass on the punty to the glass pumpkin.
b. Slowly lift the punty up and away from the pumpkin while simultaneously twisting the punty.
c. Have your partner take the punty as you use the diamond shears to grasp the glass and guide it around the metal rod as desired, giving the stem a spiral.
d. Using the diamond shears, cut the glass stem to the desired length.
Note: The thinner glass of the stem will cool quickly, requiring that you move just as quickly to shape a steam before the glass hardens.
Step 11: Placing in the Annealer
Using the mitts, place the finished pumpkin into the annealer for cycling down.
Once the Annealer has finished cycling down, you will have your very own glass pumpkin.