Beginners Guide To Blowing Glass

Last year’s Birthday gift from the Grumpies was an all day Glass Blowing Workshop at Edinburgh College of Art that turned out to be hot, sweaty and quietly dangerous, in an entirely different way to the previous year’s present, which I can’t talk about so don’t even ask.

Taught by Ingrid Philips, the course covers basic techniques like shaping, rolling, and of course blowing glass and is very practical and hands on. You will make several items to keep. On my course we finished up with approximations of a glass bubble ornament, a whiskey glass, a snack bowl and a paperweight. Except for the paperweight none of these things will look particularly amazing unless you have blown glass before, but it is still very satisfying to take a blob of molten glass and after a bit of manipulation and near disaster have something that more or less resembles a bowl.

Safety is a big part of the course and there may be raised voices and grabbing at times but these are to prevent you setting yourself, or others on fire so don’t get shirty about it and pay attention.

Glass Blowing Tools

You will learn to handle the blowpipe, a hollow stainless steel tube the glass is generally attached to, as well as other tools like the marver, tweezers, jacks and block, for shaping, clipping and piercing the glass. The glass cools down quickly and becomes unworkable so it is essential to be quick and precise or it will mean another trip to the 1000+ °C glory hole for a re-heat.

whiskey tumbler
whiskey tumbler

This is not a relaxing day of arts and crafts. There are a lot of hot things in the studio and you may sometimes feel uncomfortable or rushed but I can now say I have worked molten glass with nothing more than some wet newspaper and found the overall experience to be entirely worthwhile and would recommend the course and instructor wholeheartedly.

The latest dates for the course are available on the List’s website here, Glass Blowing Workshop.

Watch an inappropriately dressed American lady make a paperweight using the same technique we used below.

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