Glassblowing is a technique that can be dated back to the first century when glassmakers used inflation to form pieces of glass art. The art of glassblowing was invented during the Roman Empire and later expanded to the Greeks and Egyptians.
Glassblowing continues to be a popular art with more impressive pieces created every day. To make these wonderful works, a glassblower uses a tube to expand molten glass into a bubble that is then shaped and colored. The glass is manipulated with a variety of tools and a torch to create different shapes.
There are two methods of glassblowing—mold-blowing and free-blowing. Free-blowing was the first technique ever used and is still popular today. It involves clay blowpipes that are used by glassblowers to shape the piece to their desire ultimately. Mold-blowing involves placing the molten glass on the end of the clay pipe and setting it into a metal or wooden mold. While free-blowing allows for more control over the glass, both techniques can produce stunning works of art.
After the glass is shaped, the glassblowers can add it color and patterns. This addition can be done in many different ways such as combining colored powder and frit—colored pieces of glass makes for the beautiful pieces you see in stores today. Molten glass can also be rolled in powdered color for different hues.
Glass is one of the world’s most ancient and adaptable man-made materials. Today, glassblowing is a worldwide movement with many different institutions across the globe offering to train hopefuls in techniques and equipment use.
The Corning Museum of Glass located in New York dedicates itself to the history, science, and creation of glass. It’s a prime example of the influence glass has had in many different cultures. Founded in 1951, the museum has over 45,000 glass pieces with some dating back thousands of years. You can learn everything there is to know about glass and even watch a live glassblower making art.