Shaping the Color of Hot

13 September 2009

Another early morning in the glass studio.  While Shannon was changing into work clothes and I was setting the studio—pipes need to be preheated, tools arranged, color and and gold leaf put out on the table, etc., I snapped this fun photo of the tools at the workbench.  I really like it.

 We got about nine pumpkins done before Chad and the expected group showed up for the rebirth of the broken bowl. We did another three or four pumpkins while they watched, and the broken bits of glass from their beautiful flutter bowl heated up in the lehr. Then, the project began. The hot clear glass glowing orange was very dramatic against the beautiful blue/green/white swirls in the broken shards. At first they stuck out like giant thorns from the end of the blow pipe, held there only by heat. Then, eventually, they succumbed to the 1200 degrees in the glory hole and wilted, curling and collapsing down onto the fresh, clear glass on the pipe. She repeated this procedure six or seven times, opening the lehr, reaching in with the pipe, and coming out with a couple of broken bits sticking out at odd angles, inserting all of that into the glory hole to melt it together, and marvering it at the table to make it cohesive. Once she had collected all the larger broken bits that we’d placed in the lehr, then, she picked up the smaller broken pieces from the marver table where Alan and I were busily heating them up for her with propane torches. Finally, all the useable bits were joined together on the end of the pipe and my work was done for a while.

That’s when I had time to snap a couple of photos of the process. My photo of the day is of a final marver before blowing the bubble. I also took this one of the piece, after the bubble is in there, and she is waiting for the whole thing to cool before gathering clear glass on top of it all.  After that gather, then it was a matter of blowing the bubble to the right size—big enough to do the piece she had in her head, but not too big to be able to get it in and out of the furnace door (the glory hole became to small very quickly!).  She blew it out, shaped it at the bench, with paper and jacks, while two or three of us shielded her from the heat with paddles.  The larger the piece, the more heat it contains, and this puppy was hot!  When she had the exterior of the piece at the size she desired, she did something none of us had ever seen done—she sucked the air back out of the globe she’d blown, and by having the bottom of the globe at the right temperature, she was able to affect only the top, thereby creating a perfectly round “sinkhole” of sorts.  At one point in the process, she was walking the fine line between needing a wide enough base that the bowl could be ground flat to sit, and yet small enough to get it to break off the pipe when she was ready.  She had me operate a torch in each hand to keep the jack line the right temperature.  I nearly burned by little fingers until I learned to lock the torch on, and then hold it by the bottle, instead of the handle!

It was magical, how perfectly the whole thing worked—the new bowl let go of the pipe with one good whack, and fell into Chad’s waiting, heavily gloved hands.  Ginger opened the door of the lehr and in it went!  It is my hope to get over there tomorrow and take a photo of the finished piece—it won’t sit perfectly level until the bottom gets ground flat, but the effect of the double-walled bowl should be something I can capture in a photo, regardless.

That was the final piece of production for the day—it was time to charge the furnace!  When the furnace gets too low on glass, it is harder to regulate the temperature and with a number of work days ahead this week, Shannon had planned this down time.  We all watched while Chad shoveled batch into the furnace, marveling a bit at the process, despite our knowledge of it. The group finally broke up, most on their way to Chad’s house for a barbecue, and me back to packing!  Ginger and I had decided to attend the party, but not before getting a little more of our own work done.

We headed to the party at about five-thirty, and I immediately made my Sunday bloody mary.  I had brought enough fixings for everyone, but nobody else was interested.  A couple of folks tasted mine, but I still had no takers for their own drink.  Oh well . . . their loss as I see it!  I borrowed a goblet from Chad, so this one isn’t mine, but I did take the photo!  The dinner was amazing, and the gathering broke up early, so Ginger and I were back onsite before nine.  I did a little more packing, but have decided bedtime at midnight is a grand idea!

~MB