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Welcome to learning about glassblowing basics! This week we continue to learn about about the tools used in the shop. To visit part 1 of my Glassblowing Basics: Tools series click Here!


Much like the marver, blocks are used to shape glass. They come in a wide range of sizes, and must live in water when not in use. Blocks are typically made of cherry, as it's a dense fruit wood which prevents it from burning through too quickly.

Newspaper (or paper)

Layers of newspaper are folded and dampened to create a thick pad that can be used to shape glass. I am told that his is an American invention. All glassblowers have their favorite number of newspaper sheets. Mine is eight.

Sophieta (or sophie) or Puffer The main function of the sophie is to inflate the shoulder of a vessel after it has been puntied. I use a bent sophie 99% of the time, but I may ask my assistant to use a straight sophie on larger works.

Paddles (Technically called a "battledore" but most glassblowers probably don't know that, and no one calls it that) Paddles are useful for two main purposes: One, for "paddling" a vessel to create a flat bottom for it to sit on, and two, for use as a shield to protect one from radiant heat that gets emitted from hot glass.

Blow hose

If you are not blowing with a partner, or you need to blow while your assistant is occupied, the blow hose is essential. The flexible hosing has a mouthpiece on one end, and a foam or rubber tube that connects snuggly on the pipe.

Mapp Gas Torch

Mapp gas is great for heating and melting glass. It's not as hot as other torches used in the hotshop, but it's great for heating punties, attaching bits, melting sharp edges off of a punty mark, and in a wide assortment of other scenarios. Mapp gas is a great tool to always have at the bench.

Propane torch (or fluffy torch)

There are moments in glassblowing where glass needs to be heated in specific areas while outside of the bench. The fluffy torch is useful for heating the back of the piece, especially if you're making a piece of work that is relatively long where gloryhole heat has difficulty reaching.

Oxygen/propane torch (or hot torch)

Much like the fluffy torch, the hot torch is used to drive heat into specific areas of glass. The flame is hotter and more concentrated than that of the fluffy torch.

Knock off table

The knock off table is useful for tapping the glass free from the pipe or punty before moving it into the annealer.

Thanks for reading! Comment and leave feedback if you'd like :) If you would like to get my latest blog updates click here to subscribe! :) Also, mark your calendar for the Maria Made a Sale on May 20th where for one day only my entire shop will be 20% off! Happy Shopping!

Welcome to learning about the tools of glassblowing! To learn more about my Glassblowing Equipment series. Click here for Part 1 and Click here for Part 2.

Jacks are probably the most necessary of all tools for a glassblower. The blades are used to create "jack lines", which define where the glass will break free from the metal rod. Jack blades are also used for shaping the inside or outside of the glass vessel. The back of the jacks are called "straps", which can also be used for shaping and/or cooling the glass.

Beeswax is used as lubricant on jack blades and a select few other tools. The jacks are always oriented with the blades pointed back because the beeswax doesn't want to get on the other tools. Waxy tools make for unwanted slippage and will inhibit the performance of the other glassblowing tools.

Parchoffis are useful in shaping glass vessels with rounded, interior contours, such as bowls.

Tweezers are used to apply thermal shock to a neckline, often with the use of water. They are also used to pick bubbles out of glass, to pull the lip before trimming, or to create patterning. Tweezers can essentially be used in any scenario where you need to maneuver the glass, because you can't use your thumb and forefinger... for obvious reasons.

You can cut glass with shears, just like you would use scissors on paper. Shears can come in different sizes and profiles to fit specific needs. The most common use of shears is to trim the lip of a vessel.

Diamond shears are similar to straight shears in that they can be used to cut glass, but are also useful for grabbing and pulling glass for straightening, elongating, or cooling.

Thanks for reading! Comment and leave feedback if you'd like :) If you would like to get my latest blog updates click here to subscribe! :)

Welcome to Part 2/2 of my Equipment series. Click here for Part 1.

The bench is our work station in glassmaking. This is where the glassblower, aka the gaffer, will shape the glass with the help of their assistant(s) who helps with various tasks such as blowing air into the glass or turning the pipe.

Marvers are steel tables used for shaping glass. It's one of the most essential tools in glassblowing because it aids in shaping as well as cooling the glass to manipulate how the glass bubble will blow out.

These are buckets where our used glass is held before being recycled or thrown out. It's also where pipes and punties can cool and be broken free from the inevitable glass that remains after each use. Because the metal and glass have different rates of expansion as it cools, they are incompatible, and the glass will pop off naturally.

The process of slowly cooling glass to room temperature is called annealing, which is why our kilns are called annealers. If glass is not cooled at the correct rate, its crystalline structure will not form properly, and stores stress within itself. Badly annealed glass can form cracks during the slow cooling process, or after it's out of the kiln. Annealing can take as little as an hour or up to years depending on the object.

The color box is essentially a small annealer/kiln where glass color is heated in preparation for use (depending on the color, in the 900 -1050 degree range). Not all color applications require preheating, but if color rod is being used, it is essential. The color box can also be used to preheat and hold other glass objects for a variety of applications.

The garage is like the color box in that you can use it to preheat any glass to working temperatures before use. The garage is almost essential in making goblets where multiple parts need to be heated to specific heats and held in an environment where the heat can be easily monitored and modulated.

After finishing a glass work, you must safely transfer the glass from the bench to the annealer. Typically you will have your assistant help you in this process because you have limited time. Because of the nature of glass making, you must put the glass away when it's structurally stable and not moving, but hot enough that it doesn't crack on the way to the kiln. Our green, welders jackets offer sufficient protection for most small to medium sized glass, but anything larger produces uncomfortably hot radiant heat which requires one to rock the spaceman outfit. Mitts are made of kevlar to protect the hands.

Here, we have my friends Herb and David getting ready to put Herb's work away into the kiln. You can see David putting his hands under the work in case the piece were to drop unexpectedly. Herb has ready a pair of tweezers in his right hand, which he uses to tap on the punty rod. The vibration from the tap will break the glass free from the punty rod.

Thanks for reading! Comment and leave feedback if you'd like :) Next week, I'm staring Glassblowing Basics: Tools ~ Stay tuned!

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