Last weekend our new neighbors invited us to a farm in Washington County for a glass-blowing demonstration and sale. We arrived and found a funky, hand-built art studio and barn and were introduced to David Johnson, its builder and resident glassblower (note the weather vane). There was music, food and Roots Brewing beer, as well as glass pieces for sale that were blown by David and his cousin, Sara, a student and an accomplished glassblower in her own right.
We wandered around, watched some of the demonstrations in the barn and admired the amazing platters by David and the luminescent colors Sara achieved in her vases and bowls. But then there was a crackle of anticipation as everyone started heading to the barn. David had announced he was going to blow a platter, the biggest he'd ever attempted.
As he dipped his blow pipe again and again into the kiln containing the molten glass, the ball on the end of the pipe grew larger and larger. He rolled the red-hot blob in little bits of colored glass called frit, and as the layers slowly built up, he and Sara took turns blowing on the pipe to create a bubble on the interior.
In the video you can see him moving from the furnace and nearly dropping the 20-lb. blob, then letting the excess molten glass run off into a large pot of water. It was amazing to watch the several gallons of cold water start boiling almost instantly as the glass curled into it. He then attached a punty to the other end of the blob and detached it from the blow pipe, creating an opening where the blow pipe had been. This, then, was put back in the glory hole (or reheating furnace). When it was back to a red-hot temperature, he pulled it out and, with the punty steadied on a stand, started twirling the piece so that the lip of the bowl-shaped piece opened up, created a platter-shaped disk.
This last video shows that final step, with Mick and the Stones providing the background accompaniment, a fantasic coda to what had started out as a quiet afternoon in the country.
Videos courtesy Susana Holloway.