6 Glassblowing Tips, Tricks & Techniques

Learn six cool glassblowing tips, tricks, and techniques from expert Ed Donovan in this Howcast video.

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Handblown glass can be extraordinary. Learn if you have what it takes to be a glassblower with these videos. Glassblowing teachers Todd Hansen and Ed Donovan tell you everything you need to know -- the tools required; how to find glassblowing classes; how to choose a glassblowing kit; how to rent a glassblowing studio; how to shape glass; how to use puffers, steam sticks, tweezers, jacks and pacioffis; how to marver glass; how to decorate hand-blown glass; how to color glass; and much more.

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Hi my name’s Ed Donovan and I’m here at DC GlassWorks you can find us at dcglassworks.com. We are a public access glass blowing facility we also metal and metal casting and welding. We are primarily a teaching facility. We want to share with people the magic of glass blowing it’s an amazing substance and today I’m going to be talking to you about glass blowing. When you come into a glass shop there are certain things that you should do to prepare yourself. One, you want to make sure your bench is set up, all the tools that you’re going to need are on the bench and ready and clean, meaning that on your shears and your tweezers you don’t have any wax so that when you’re trying to use them they’re slipping off the glass and that there is wax on your jack so on the jacks you’re going to preheat them, add a little beeswax and so forth. If you want to use newspaper while you’re working you want to make sure that you make that and that it’s available and wet when you start and you want to make sure all the block sizes that you’re going to be using are in the bucket and ready for you so you’re not running around the shop like a wild man saying, it’s too big, I need another block, I need a bigger block. So you want to prepare your bench, make sure you’re ready to go. The other thing is when you pick up the blowpipe it’s really important to blow through it to make sure that it’s clean. You don’t want to have glass plugging the end of it because that’s really frustrating when you go to blow your bubble and you can’t do that because it’s plugged at the end so make sure that’s clear by blowing through it and then you always want to preheat the tip of the pipe so that when you’re gathering you don’t get a lot of bubbles on a cold pipe and the glass doesn’t really stick too well to the cold steel so just a little bit of a rosy glow on the end. You also don’t want to overheat the pipe, overheating the pipe is really bad for the steel and it doesn’t help you gather any glass that’s for sure. When these are cooling down, the pipes and everything in the studio are cooling down, you’re going to be having glass shattering and popping off things so it’s really important, you only have a set of eyes, you don’t want to lose one to a piece of glass flying off so, safety glasses, cotton clothing, closed-toed shoes, you want to make sure your toes are protected from anything that might be falling, hot water, hot glass off the pipes, hot water especially, I mean, it’s amazing when you’re sitting at the bench and you might get a little too close or you pick a pipe out of the water and a drop of water falls on your shoe, if you’re wearing even sneakers, those nylon mesh sneakers, that water is hot.

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  • Ed Donovan

    Ed Donovan is a glassblower at DC GlassWorks, a public access glassblowing facility.