One of the basic glassblowing skills you must learn is getting glass on your pipe or iron. This process is called gathering. In our Introduction to Glass Blowing series, you can learn how to gather glass in your first individual lesson. You can book these classes and our experiences online. Check out this Corning Museum of Glass Video for a video of the process.
Before the Gather Warm the Pipe
Select a blowpipe or punty from the pipe warmer. If you will make a blown piece select a pipe; otherwise, a punty works for solid pieces. The end of the pipe or punty needs to be glowing orange. Glass won’t stick to a cold surface, so preheat the end of the pipes. The glory hole (reheat furnace) is used if additional heat is required.
Gather the Glass
Open up the furnace door (perhaps someone does this for you) and reach over the ledge of the furnace with the pipe. Look for the pipe’s reflection on the molten glass’s surface (held in a large pot called a crucible). Slowly turn the iron two to three times to gather glass. Gather as much glass as possible so that you have sufficient glass.
Keep the Glass Centered
Bring the pipe back to a level position and come out of the furnace. Now, you have the first gathering of glass. The glass is hot and moving, so it is essential that the pipe is always moving and kept level so that you can control it. If you stop turning, the glass will sag; if you lower the end of the iron, the glass will extend; if you spin fast, the gather will expand. The glass must stay centered, so keep turning evenly.
Cool the Pipe
Cool the pipe on the pipe warmer so you can hold the iron closer to the glass while still turning the pipe iron.
Shape the Glass Gather
Take the glass on the pipe to the marver (the steel table) and then roll it across. Using the marver helps distribute the heat through and shape the glass into a more symmetrical cylinder, cooling the surface of the glass as it touches the cooler steel. The shape should be about two times longer than wide, and then cool the tip a little.
Blow the Bubble
Blow air into the pipe and trap it by capping your thumb over the opening. The air will move through the pipe, getting heated and going to the glass area of the least resistance. A bubble will start to expand into the gathered and shaped glass. Once the starter bubble is the desired size, you can remove your thumb and shape the bubble on the marver.
Take another Gather
For a larger piece, another layer or gather of glass is required, and it should layer below the line of the first gather on the moil. The moil is where the glass connects to the pipe, and we want this to be stable but not extend too far up the pipe. So, enter the furnace again. Bury the bubble into the molten glass, find the reflection, and rotate it two to four times. Now you are ready to make your first blown glass piece, hopefully, a piece of glass art.
A second version of The Gather, Studio Candy
You like candy, I love candy, we like candy. We make candy every day. The best kind, it’s visually sweet, has no calories, and never goes bad.
We keep our candy recipe (glass) in a big pot (crucible). If you stick a pipe into it and twist it, the candy wraps around the end like taffy (the gather). Do this several times, blow into the pipe, and create a bubble. It’s like bubble gum, only a lot more colorful and permanent.
You say that isn’t your thing. Well, perhaps a candy cane, cotton candy, gumdrops, or a chocolate egg. In our kitchen, the possibilities are endless, as are the limits of our imaginations. Every day is a sweet day here.