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Glassblowing Basics: Tools, Part 1

Updated: Feb 11

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.

Maria is putting a jack line, or constriction in the glass bubble where the piece will eventually release from the pipe. The glass is glowing orange because of the heat, and while Maria uses her jacks, her right arm is protected with her kevlar sleeve.
Me blowing glass!

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.

Parchoffis held in my right hand look like jacks but with wide, wooden blades. The wood is darkened by its continued use on the glass.

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.

Diamond shears sitting on the marver, showing its particular blade profile that converges into a diamond shape as it closes, and cuts in one motion.
Diamond shears

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