A Little Glass Adventure

The town of Lincoln City, Oregon hosts the Finders Keepers event where beautiful blown glass floats are hidden on the town’s beaches for anyone to find.  We walked a lot of beaches looking for these treasures but never found any.  But since there are a number of glass art studios in the area we decided to take advantage of the chance to try our hands at making our own glass creations.For a fee, we were each allowed to “help” a professional glass artist make a float or a fluted bowl with colors that we chose.  We’ve watched demonstrations in glass blowing “hot shops” before and found the process fascinating, so it was great fun to get up-close-and-personal with it.

Starting with a “gather” of 2400 degree (F) molten glass on the end of a blow pipe, the artist adds color by picking up colored frit from a steel table.The glass begins to cool very quickly so it’s put into the “glory hole” to be reheated, fusing the colored frit into the gather.The process continues as the artist puts a small puff of air into the glass, allowing the moisture of his breath expand in the heat to form a bubble.  We repeatedly reheated the glass in the glory hole, and we blew more air into it, enlarging the piece and shaping it with a wet wooden form in between.Jim made a float, so the process for his project was just about complete at that point.  I made a fluted bowl, so the next step was to turn the hollow ball into a flat piece.  The artist took a hand torch and heated the end of the ball while I blew more air, until the weakened hot spot broke open.  He then heated it and opened it further.The final touch was to spin the flat plate at varying speeds and angles to create the fluted shape.

The pieces are finished by adding a glob of glass to form a flat base, then rushed to an annealing oven to cool slowly overnight.We had a blast learning a little more about glass and making some pretty creations to bring home to the boat.

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