Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hot Glass

One of the reasons that we picked St Pete as a place to visit was that it has a permanent exhibition of Chihuly glass.  I do like glassware and I especially like the Chihuly glass.  So while in St Pete we went along to both the exhibit, and to a Hot Glass demonstration of glass blowing of a more regular nature. 

Although we did them the other way around, I will tell you about the Hot Glass first as it put some of the Chihuly stuff into better context for us once we realised the time and cost involved in making just a relatively simple piece of glassware.

We watched them blow a medium sized, two coloured vase, and it took two people about half an hour.  They have to make multiple trips to both the crucible, which is a furnace containing the molten glass, and the glory hole, which is the furnace that they use to keep the glass hot enough, as well as heating separate sticks of coloured glass to add to give the second colour. 

Great care is taken to get the shaping right, both by rolling the piece on a work surface and by shaping it in their hand using a large wedge of sodden newspaper to contain the immense heat of around 1000 degrees centigrade that the glass has to be kept at.
And the furnaces have to be kept at this temperature all day, everyday, so the vast majority of the cost of hand made glassware is actually fuel to fire the furnaces.

Despite the name, and for the thick and heavy style of vase being made here there is very little actual blowing done, just a little here and there as the glass is built up and the colour added.

The main decorative shaping of the vase was done by swinging and turning the vase, to make the neck flare out in a wavy manner. And suddenly there was an almost finished vase.

We never got to see the final product, as it had to go into the third furnace, the annealer, to be cooled down slowly.  Apparently the colours would have been blue and a bright green.


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