How Do Glass Blowers Produce Their Beautiful Works?
Artistic glass and fine tableware are the products of “offhand blowing.” The techniques of this classic profession date back hundreds of years. When Venice was the capital of the glass industry in the fourteenth century, her glassblowers could be punished with death if they revealed the secrets of this art. Later, about the middle of the seventeenth century, a lustrous, transparent glass particularly suited to offhand blowing was developed in England. Known as flint or lead crystal, it is the type most in demand for modern treasures in glass. The glassblowers function as a “shop” of six or seven men. First the “gatherer” takes the required amount of molten glass on the end of his blowing iron. About five feet long, this hollow iron pipe has a mouthpiece at one end and a knob at the other. To the inexperienced the blowpipe is a long, clumsy tube, but to the master glassblower it is the inseparable partner of an artist and his craft. The gatherer shapes the hot glass by rolling it on a “