Art of creation • Glassblowing
The ancient Phoenicians first acquainted the world with the wonders of hand-blown glass, which became a luxury in the possession of Roman households as early as the 1st century BC. Original clay blowpipes were replaced by glass blowpipes and then by more convenient metal blowpipes, which artisanal glassmakers still use to this day. One end of the blowpipe collects molten glass, the other one has a mouthpiece through which air is blown. The handle is, of course, isolated due to the tremendous heat radiating from the material. The shorter the blowpipe, the more delicate and diminutive the product is. The glassmaker collects a small amount of glass to create a blob, then blows air into the pipe and forms a bubble. This process can be repeated until the piece is of the preferred size, however, it must be rotated all the while. The glass is cooled and shaped against a metal surface called the marver. An iron rod is then used to transfer the glass into the mold where final shaping takes place. The final product is taken into the cooling furnace, a step essential to maintain the properties and shape of the product. The temperature of the glass must, however, fall very steadily, as a quick change of temperature may cause it to strain and crack. A glassmaker’s work is therefore not only a vehicle for artistic expression, where every blow breathes life into the product and makes it unmistakably unique, but also an exercise in dexterity, strength, patience and precision. It is a well-honed craft handed down from generation to generation.