Glassblowing Information

Glassblowing is a glassforming technique that involves inflating the molten glass into a bubble, or parison, with the aid of the blowpipe, or blow tube. A person who blows glass is called a glassblower, glassmith, or gaffer.

As a novel glass forming technique created in the middle of the last century B.C., glassblowing exploited a working property of glass which was previously unknown to the glassworkers – inflation. Inflation refers to the expansion of a molten blob of glass by introducing a small amount of air to it. This property is based on the liquid structure of glass where the atoms are held together by strong chemical bonds in a disordered and random network, therefore molten glass is viscous enough to be blown and gradually hardens as it loses heat. In order to increase the stiffness of the molten glass, which in turn facilitates the process of blowing, there is a subtle change in the composition of glass. With reference to their studies of the ancient glass assemblages from Sepphoris of Israel, Fischer and McCray postulated that the concentration of natron, which acts as flux in glass, is slightly lower in blown vessels than those manufactured by casting. Lower concentration of natron would have allowed the glass to be stiffer for blowing.

During blowing, thinner layers of glass cool faster than thicker ones and become more viscous than the thicker layers. This allows production of blown glass with uniform thickness, instead of facilitating blow-through of the thinned layers.

Wikipedia, Glassblowing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glassblowing (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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