Glassmaking is a wonderful hobby that allows people to combine their creative imaginations with the joy of creating glass. Glassmaking is also a great way to express your artistic abilities. Many beginning glass makers learn the craft through books or videos. While books will give you an easy-to-understand overview of the basics of glassmaking, videos offer a visual sense of how the glass is created and offers a hands-on method for learning. Beginning glassmakers can learn the skill of glassblowing and many soon discover that it is far more enjoyable than making ordinary glass items such as cups and candles.
Glassmaking involves two basic methods – the wet glass process which produces sheets of clear glass and the dry glass process which creates larger sized glass sheets. It has also been performed in various ways throughout history. One of the methods used was known as the sandstone method where mineral salts were added to the ground glass to create a slightly coarser surface. Later, glassblowers added small amounts of water to the surface to adjust the composition. The technique developed through the years to produce a much smoother surface and produced many different types of glass such as soda-glass, opalescent glass, the artist glass, and the art glass.
Glass making can be done by hand or can be done in a kiln. Handmade glass is often lighter in weight than commercially produced glass and is therefore cheaper. Glassblowing and making vessels is done by gas-glass furnaces which are often rented on a monthly basis or purchased outright. While a kiln will produce a uniform thickness of glass, it does not offer as much control over design and thickness as a hands-on furnaces. A good furnaces will allow the glass blower to control the thickness of the glass by manipulating the air feed system. There are also glass makers who make glass in a kiln using hot air.
The procedure for how to make glass begins with finding a glassblower and finding a mold. Glass blowers will work with molds ranging from small to larger shapes depending on the job they have to do. For small jobs such as personal glass containers, a single-sided mold may be adequate. For larger jobs such as bowls and vases, a two-sided mold will be necessary.
Once the mold is selected the glassmaker cleans the mold and puts it in the right temperature and humidity for glass production. He then starts preparing the glass products by adding the required amount of coloring agents and binders which help the glass create its color. Glassmaking can be quite costly, but the skill and time involved in creating the beautiful glass products can provide financial security for many glassmakers.
Glass stained glass and illuminated glass are a very popular type of glassmaking. Stained glass can add some interest to an otherwise dull window or door. Illuminated glass can create a dramatic effect in a room. Either one of these types of glassmaking can require special equipment to create.
Glassmaking vessels are a relatively new type of glassmaking and do not usually involve the use of molds. Instead, the glassmaker creates the shape and size of the vessel from scratch. Vessels are traditionally made to be displayed as a decorative item. With modern technology and a greater ability to produce complex and detailed glass designs, these vessels can be more valuable than the simple vessels of the past.
There are many ways to get into glassmaking. Glassmakers can start out by making simple products such as clear glassware. They can then branch out into working with colored glass, leaded glass, borosilicate glass and other types of optical glass.