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Glassblowing Basics: Tools, Part 2

Updated: Feb 11

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.

A folded and charred newspaper is held in my left hand.
A well loved newspaper

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.

A birds eye view of two types of sophies, which are metal tubes of about a foot long with a cone attached to the end to accommodate the various sizes of neck openings. Two styles of sophies are shown here: straight and bent.

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.

A flexible, yellow tube with one end attached to a reed-looking mouthpiece, and the other end attached to a larger rubber tube that can accept the mouth piece of a blow pipe. The tube is variable in length, but is typically around 5 feet long.
Blow hose

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.

Shown here is the knock off table where most people choose to use a torch to flame polish their piece.
Hot torch melting off punty mark

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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