An ancient Art Form brought back to present day.
The glass is melted in a electric furnace at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass melts in a ceramic pot inside the furnace, the furnace stays on 24 hours a day from the time it is first heated & filled with glass. A furnace can run for years until the pot will have to be replaced & the inside of the furnace rebuilt. The glass in the pot needs to be refilled after days of making pieces & pulling glass out of the furnace. this is done by putting small amounts of glass cullet ( raw materials already melted into glass ) carefully put into the pot every 20 to 30 minutes until the pot is full. This can take a day or so depending on how diligent.
Clear glass is gathered from the furnace on the end of a stainless steel blowpipe by dipping the end of the pipe into the glass and turning it quickly to gather the molten glass on the pipe, the glass is like honey and wants to drip off the pipe when the pipe is not turning, just like honey on a spoon or dipper. The color of the glass is bright orange at first from how hot it is & will loose it's orange color as it cools.
The colors that are in the pieces are concentrated colored glass, added to the gathers of clear glass on the pipe after they are taken from the furnace. There are many different ways to add & manipulate colors to the glass, a glass blower could spend his or her whole life just experimenting & playing with color applications & manipulations.
The hot glass cools off very quickly in less that a minute it needs to be reheated in a gas fired unit called a ( Glory Hole ) that is about 2300 degrees. This melts the glass & color so it can be manipulated into it's final shape & design. Some pieces take 2 to 10 minutes & some take 2 hours or more to complete.
Manipulation of the hot glass is done in many ways & with many different tools, forms & molds. The most basic way is to use a metal table called a ( Marver ) to cool and shape the glass on the end of the pipe, this is called Marvering. The hot glass can also be shaped & manipulated by using wooden tools that are kept in water to keep the wood from burning up & creates a layer of steam between the wood & glass that keeps the wood from leaving marks on the glass if used quickly. Wet news paper is also used in different ways to shape the hot glass. A variety of metal tools & molds are used to start, open & finish a piece, manipulate colors & create textures. The most widely used methods for shaping used by every glass blower are Heat ( glory Holes or Tourches ) Air ( Lungs or compressed ) Gravity & centrifugal forces can be your best friends if used properly.
Some Pieces are transferred from one pipe to another called a ( Punty ) so the opposite end can be worked or opened into a vessel, when a piece is finished it is broken off the ( Punty ) & placed into an annealing oven that is 950 degrees. This keeps the glass from cooling off to quickly relieving the stress in the glass & colors so it will not crack or break. The annealing process can take 24 to 72 hours for the oven to slowly cool the glass down at a controlled rate, depending on the thickness of the glass.
The glass is then taken out of an annealer oven when cool, some pieces are ground & polished to an optical finish with diamond grinding wheels, pieces are then ready to be signed & dated with a diamond dremel tool, photographed and numbered.