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How to Use Blocks & Paddles in Glassblowing

Learn how to use blocks and paddles in glassblowing from expert Todd Hansen in this Howcast video.


Hello my name’s Todd Hansen, we’re here at the Art of Fire Contemporary Glass Blowing Studio in Laytonsville, Maryland. We're at I’ve been a glassblower for about twelve years now, I’ve got several different lines of glasswork that I work on and I’ll be talking to you about glassblowing. Blocks and paddles that we use are made from cherry wood and they are cut while the wood is green and that’s why the blocks are kept in water because the green wood will remain water logged as long as you keep it wet. We keep those in our buckets of water behind the bench and that way we have easy access to them when we’re sitting working with the glass. What you want to do, the best way I’ve heard it described is take that block and sort of cradle it like you would a baby’s head you just want to let the glass rest and roll easily in the block without forcing or pushing, you don’t want to push the glass back on the pipe, you don’t want the let the glass just sort of sag into the block either so keep the glass turning, bring the block up underneath while you’re turning and then just give it a nice easy roll up and down the bench maybe two or three times and that should give you a nice parison shape once you get that done you can take the glass on a cap. Paddle is the same way, you want to keep the paddle wet but when you’re ready to flatten the bottom, come in not at a ninety degree angle but give yourself a little bit of an angle to sort of snow plow the bottom initially. What that’ll do is push and center the bottom in one direction. Once you’ve got that sort of a point formed on the glass, go a rotate your paddle around flat, or bring it to ninety degrees and just a firm push on some hot glass should give a nice bottom form for your piece then you’re ready to put in the dimple and that’ll prepare the glass for the putty and then you’re ready for the transfer.

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