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My Blog:life, thoughts and behind the scenes 

A little break from my glassblowing basics series to show you around our new home! We're not done decorating and still in need of furniture, but it's coming together. Our home is quite old, as it was built in 1911 and is located in a safe and quiet neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Our home is filled with lots of natural light, which I really love. It's nice to be here.

For some reason, we have two ledges in the bedroom. Here I am, circa 2016 (?). I forget the name of the artist who painted this for me. He set up shop outside of the store, Park Life on Clement street in SF and did tiny portraits for people.. if you know who the artist is, let me know!

This dresser was my father-in-law's childhood dresser, so it's at least 60 years old. I'm very bad at keeping hydrated, so this bottle helps. I brought the glass home, thinking that it wasn't good enough to sell but I have grown quite fond of it over time and I use it every day. I love the color, and it looks good next to the "horse" Nick made when he was five.

I started painting a little. It's not even close to being finished. I'm just trying to make sense of it. Trying to find a method or process that will keep me from being too dissatisfied.

I now have a place for my paperweight, made of gray wool and foam (courtesy of Gay Outlaw).

Our home has two skylights.

Everyone has seen shelves made of cinder blocks, right? Bet you haven't seen shelves made of step stools from the Beaverton School District.

Until now, we've stored our cups in the cupboard, which meant that only the cups in the front got used! Now we can see all our cups from above, and it makes me really happy. The key is to have grippy liners so that the glass and ceramic don't bang around.

This is our rug. I keep seeing new "people" in the rug. Like a man in a big yellow suit and turtles. It's like a rorschach test rug. Is it just me?

I got this copper vase in Bend, Oregon. I was struck by it, picked it up, put it back, came back to it, took a picture, left the store... 2 minutes later, changed my mind, and bought it. I knew I would regret it if I left without it. I just think it's the cutest thing, and now I get to look at it every day.

Most glass shops will melt clear glass in their furnace. Some places will have dedicated pots of various colored glass melts, but this is less common. For this reason, glass color is applied to clear glass using different methods to achieve varying effects.

The colorant used in glass are metal oxides, rather than traditional pigment. Metal oxides are used because they can withstand the high temperatures (2000+degrees) required to create glass work.

The most straight forward way of color application is to use crushed up glass color. This can come in the form of powder and frit. I buy most of my color from Olympic Color Rods, and they have a link here that shows you the different grains of frit available to purchase. The great thing about powders and frit is that it doesn't require preheating, and you can achieve a lot of different effects, even within the same color, just by switching the frit size.

Above, you can see my friend Joe rolling yellow frit onto clear glass. The color sticks readily so long as the surface of the clear glass is hot enough. Notice how the yellow turns to orange from the heat. Yellow looks orange, reds look brown, black will often reduce to silver, and some white will turn clear when hot! In most cases, the glass will shift back to its original color when it goes back to room temperature.

Powder has the added advantage of being able to sift.

These are some examples of my work using frit and powders.

Years back, I created flattened pieces of colored glass with frit and powders to create mosaic-like patterns on my work. I cut the rounds with a tile saw, and created a pattern that can be heated in the gloryhole to in order for it to be picked up onto a pipe.

Another way of applying color to glass is to do a color overlay. Overlays are done using solid rods of color / color bar. Since these rods are larger than frit, they need to be preheated in a kiln or garage before using, or else they will break.

Below, my assistant, Dave brings me my color in the perfect heat and shape so that I can easily drop it onto my clear bubble and shaped on the marver. The colored glass is cut using diamond shears. Overlays will give glass an even color to the form, rather than a spotted look that frit will typically create.

By changing the amount of color bar used, different results can be achieved, such as creating color fades.

Here are some other examples of works of mine that utilize color bar.

I like the organic nature of applying blobs of color rod onto glass. The results can be a bit unpredictable because different colors move at different rates when you are working it, but I love the overall effect.

Applying color to glass can be tricky. If you want to know more about the techniques involved, let me know. You can also click Here to read my blog post about color or Here to take a look at how I organize my color! I hope this gave you some insight into what goes into my designs!

Thanks for getting this far in the blog! As you probably know, I'm the middle of moving out of SF so everything in my life is not at the usual level of homeostasis, which is why my posting schedule and work schedule is a little whacky. But I'm still working on creating content ... just slower than normal. Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

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!

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