Glass Blown Flowers
Gini Garcia creates radiant hand-blown glass flowers.
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Materials and Tools:
frit colored glass
glass blowing glasses
Note: Gini Garcia wore protective glasses throughout the entire glass blowing process, except when she took the flower out of the oven.
1. Draw the flower shape, design and color on paper. The colors used are made up of assorted metal oxides combined with clear glass. The powder comes in various sizes of crushed up colored glass called frit.
2. Heat up the tip of the blowpipe. Heating the pipe takes three minutes. The blowpipe is hollow and made of stainless steel.
3. Open the furnace door and dip the end of the pipe into the molten glass. The liquid glass is 2150 degrees and glows. After gathering, shape the glass using a wooden tool called a block.
4. After cooling it down evenly, trap a bit of air into the pipe. The heat at the end of the pipe expands the air and blows its own starter bubble through the glass (figure A). This takes one and a half minutes.
5. After creating a starter bubble, reheat the glass in the glory hole (a reheating chamber). The heating takes 30 seconds.
6. Put the heated bubble into an optic mold, which gives the bubble ribs (figure B). Reheat the bubble in the glory hole for a few seconds and roll through colored glass powder. The color sticks to the ribs creating a vertical striped pattern.
7. Reheat it again; sit at the bench, and with a pair of tweezers pull at the end of the bubble while turning the pipe (figure C). This action twists the colored lines on the bubble. Trim the end using diamond shears. All this takes two minutes.
8. Follow step 5 again leaving out twisting the bubble. This takes one and a half minutes.
9. Allow the bubble to cool about three minutes or until the bubble has stopped moving.
10. Open the furnace door and gather glass over the decorated bubble. While the glass is fresh, roll it through the background color (figure D). Heat the bubble and roll through the color once again. Repeat for a total of three times. This takes six minutes.
11. After all the glass has been gathered and the colors have been applied, heat up the bubble and drop it into an optic mold (figure E);
12. Heat it up again, sit at the bench, and begin to blow through the pipe. As the bubble inflates, put a score mark in the glass (figure G). This will allow you to break it off the pipe and work on the other side. This takes two minutes.
13. After the bubble is complete, hold the pipe in one hand, grab a solid rod called a punty and gather a small amount of molten glass. Cool it by rolling it on a steel table called a marver and then attach it to the bottom of the glass bubble (figure H). Using jacks, cool the score mark done previously and tap on the pipe. This allows the glass bubble to break off the original pipe and on to the punty. Transport the bubble on its new pipe to the glory hole and heat the other side. All this takes about 45 seconds.
14. Gather molten glass and roll it through color. This forms the decoration on the edge of the flower. Attach it to the edge of the hole and while sitting at the bench turn the pipe, stretching the color on to the edge creating a lip of a different color. This takes two minutes.
15. After applying the lip wrap, heat the side of the bubble, which now has a hole the size of a quarter. The centrifugal (center-fleeing) force of the turning pipe opens the hole and stretches it into a flat disc. Take it out of the glory hole and hold the solid rod downward. Gravity pulls the edges not attached to the rod, scalloping them into beautifully shaped flower petals. This takes two minutes.
16. Open the oven door, place the fluted flower inside, and tap the rod and the flower falls into the oven where it will stay at 890 degrees until the stem is prepared (figure I). This takes 25 seconds.
17. Heat a solid rod and gather molten glass twice. Roll through chunks of green colored glass. This forms the stem.
18. After heating and melting all the color, allow it to cool down for one minute and gather more clear glass over it (figure J). Take it to the bench, shape it with a pad of wet newspaper, reheat it and take it to the oven where the flower top is holding. Open the oven door, attach the stem to the flower, take it out of the oven and close the door on the way to the glory hole. This takes three minutes.
19. Reheat both the flower and the stem in the glory hole, and then pull it out holding it down. Gravity begins to stretch the stem as you pull on the flower to its desired length. Cut the stem (figure K) and allow the flower to rest on a thermal blanket. Put the rod down, put on Kevlar gloves, pick up the flower and gently place it into the annealing oven where it will cool down slowly overnight. This takes one and a half minutes.