Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tacoma Glass Museum

The Museum of Glass is in Tacoma, Dale Chihuly's home town. It operates a full glass blowing facility and when we were there a visiting artist,  Therman Statum, and his apprentices were making a piece.
They begin with a little blob of glass on a blowing tube
It goes into the furnace, comes out to be shaped and goes back into the furnace. This is repeated many times. Therman is making a wire cage to be used for shaping later in the process.
At times, the blower would stand on a table and move the glass like a pendulum to cause it to fall into a longer shape. Then they would torch again and work on the shape a little at a time.

At one point, they used a mold to sit it in to ensure it was round.
Wood paddles and calipers helped with the shaping.

Here the wire cage is added.
It is alternately blown, torched and heated in the kiln to make it expand.

Finally the wire is removed and the piece is removed from the tube and transported to the oven ... very carefully. It needs to cool slowly and then the next process/decoration will happen.
Glass blowing is centuries old and uses much of the original method. The technology has improved to enable control.

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