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How to Use Puffers & Steam Sticks in Glassblowing

Learn how to use puffers and steam sticks from glassblower Ed Donovan in this Howcast video.


Hi my name is Ed Donovan. I'm here at DC GlassWorks, you can find us at We are a public access glassblowing facility. We also do metal, and metal-casting, and welding. We are primarily a teaching facility, we want to share with people the magic of glassblowing; it's an amazing substance. And today, I'm gonna be talking to you about glassblowing! Steam sticks and puffers. Essentially the steam sticks and puffers do the exact same thing. They're totally different devices, but they are used on the piece to expand the neckline of the piece after you've transferred to the punty. You're not on the blowpipe, you don't have any way of really adding air anymore to the top of the vessel and yet you want the top of the vessel to be larger than it is. You DON'T want to use the jacks because you don't want any more rounded shape on the top. In order to do that we use steam sticks and puffers. The steam stick is essentially exactly what it sounds like. It's a stick shaped like a cone (in the shape of a cone). It's kept wet and when you put it at the neckline of the piece you are creating a seal at the top of the vessel with the steam stick. The wet, wet wood creates the steam inside the vessel because its very hot and that steam causes the expansion on the part of the piece that you've heated; therefor, making it expand. The puffers are a similar device but they are using air and you can either have a two-man or a one-man puffer. It's a conical-steel shape on the end of a tube. For the one-man, it's a vent tube so you can hold it and blow into it as well. Or the straight, which is the two-man, the gaffer will put the piece into the neckline, then your assistant will blow. The puffer takes a lot of force of air, generally. You have to create a nice little seal with the puffer. It's very important that your neckline is ready to receive the puffer or the steam stick. The shape is very important, the regularity of that is very important, and the heat of course is very important in the glass; because the part of the glass that's hot, obviously, is the part that is going to move.

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