Glass FAQ: paperweight

Stare long enough at a glass paperweight and, eventually, you just might ask, “how did you do that?” I’ve gotten that question a few times as visitors took in the layers of color and the bubbles in my paperweights. I spent last Saturday morning at the glass studio making some new ones and took a few pictures along the way.

First I start with color. Saturday I was working in frit and laid out a variety of colors to have at the ready.

With an idea for shape and color, I gathered glass from the 2,000 degree furnace on the end of a solid metal rod called a punty and melted in my first layer of color (frit). I then heated and twisted the glass to create uneven surfaces to trap air bubbles during my next gather of clear glass.

I repeated the process with a second gather from the furnace.

Then it was time for another gather of glass for the furnace. This time I used wooden blocks to begin forming the round shape of the finished piece.

I also used metal jacks to start adding a constriction in the glass between it and the punty rod.

And then it was time to wait.

A process of continual heating helped to even out the temperature among the layers of glass before it was finally placed into an annealer for a 12-hour cycle that brought the glass from nearly 1,000 degrees to room temperature safely.

Next up, each piece will be individually cold worked to create a smooth and level base for the paperweight. This is my least favorite part about glass blowing–and it’s still on my to do list for Saturday’s paperweight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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