Come learn how to gather glass in our six-week session, Introduction to Glass Blowing. You can book these classes and our experiences online. For a video of the process, check out this Corning Museum of Glass Video.
Warm the Pipe before the gather
Select a blowpipe or punty from the pipe warmer. If you will make a blown piece select a pipe; otherwise, a punt works for solid pieces. The end of the pipe or punty needs to be glowing orange. Glass won’t stick to a cold surface, so preheat the end of the pipes. The glory hole (reheat furnace) is used if additional heat is required.
Gather the Glass
Open up the furnace door (perhaps someone does this for you) and reach over the ledge of the furnace with the pipe. Look for the reflection of the pipe on the surface of the molten glass (held in a large pot called a crucible). Slowly turn the iron two to three times to gather glass on its end. Gather as much glass as possible so that you have sufficient glass.
Keep the Glass Centered
Bring the pipe back to a level position and come out of the furnace. Now, you have the first gather of glass. The glass is hot and moving, so it is essential that the pipe is always moving and kept level so that you can control it. If you stop turning, the glass will sag; After lower the end of the iron, the glass will extend; if you spin fast, the gather will expand. The glass must stay centered, so keep turning evenly.
Cool the Pipe
Cool the pipe on the pipe warmer so that you can hold the iron closer to the glass while still turning the pipe iron.
Shape the Glass Gather
Take the glass on the pipe to the marver (the steel table) and then roll the glass across it. Using the marver helps distribute the heat through and shape the glass into a more symmetrical cylinder, cooling the surface of the glass as it touches the cooler steel. The shape should be about two times longer than wide, and then cool the tip a little.
Blow the Bubble
Blow air into the pipe and trap it by capping your thumb over the opening. The air will move through the pipe, getting heated and going to the glass area of least resistance. A bubble will start to expand into the gathered and shaped glass. Once the starter bubble is the desired size, you can remove your thumb and shape the bubble on the marver.
Take another Gather
For a larger piece, another layer or gather of glass is required, and it should layer below the line of the first gather on the moil. The moil is where the glass connects to the pipe, and we want this to be stable but not extending too far up the pipe. So, enter the furnace again. Bury the bubble into the molten glass, find the reflection, and rotate two to four times. Now you are ready to make your first blown glass piece, hopefully, a piece of glass art.
A second version of The Gather, Studio Candy
You like candy, I love candy, we like candy. We make candy every day. The best kind, it’s visually sweet, has no calories, and never goes bad.
We keep our candy recipe (glass) in a big pot (crucible). If you stick a pipe into it and twist it, the candy wraps around the end like taffy (the gather). Do this several times, blow into the pipe, and a bubble is created. It’s just like bubble gum, only a lot more colorful and permanent.
You say that isn’t your thing. Well, perhaps a candy cane, some cotton candy, gumdrops, or a chocolate egg. In our kitchen, the possibilities are endless, as the limits of our imaginations. Every day is a sweet day here.