The Legendary Glassware Oregon Ducks tumblers look delicate. Hand-blown glass barware often is. But the craftsmen who create the handmade drinkware glass are anything but breakable. In fact, they’re laser-focused, indestructible, and often very competitive.
Glassblowing isn’t generally considered a competitive sport, like football. But those who participate often feel they’re battling against time, heat, and many other challenges to create art from molten glass. Glassblowers train constantly to achieve in their field, much like an athlete. In fact, Netflix recently saw promise in pitting glassblowers against one another in the competitive series, Blown Away.
We here at Legendary Glassware have high esteem for those who practice glassblowing. To craft the revolutionary drinkware emblazoned with your favorite team’s logo, we work with talented artisans who know what they’re doing. They use glassblowing techniques from time-honored Italian, Czech, and Swedish traditions to make custom glassware as you’ve never seen before.
If you’re interested in how we make the beer glasses and tumbler glasses you use every game day, we’ve provided a glassblowing 101 just for you.
The practice of glassblowing requires a collection of tools and appliances. A series of three furnaces, known as the furnace, the glory hole, and the annealer, help keep the glass malleable molding during different points in the process. A blowpipe, a hollow metal tube, allows the artist to blow air into the liquid glass in order to expand it while a block or a spoon-like wooden piece is used to shape it in a specific way.
Several other tools are needed as well. An artisan’s work station is known as a bench, a metal table with arms; jacks are tweezer-like tools that can be used to maneuver hot glass and come in several different sizes; paddles flatten pieces of hot glass; the marver is a table where the artist can work with the hot glass; molds shape a piece while optic molds separate colors; a punty holds glass while an artist puts the finishing touches on it and a yoke holds the blowpipe when it’s inserted into the furnace for reshaping.
When beginning a new piece, a glass smith retrieves molten glass from the furnace on one end of the blowpipe. The glass, in liquid form, is transferred to the marver where the artist rolls it with the blowpipe into a cylinder. Once it reaches a workable shape, the artist fires the glass back up in the glory hole, a step that will be repeated multiple times throughout the development of the glassware.
After that first visit to the glory hole, that’s when an artist may choose to add a color to the glass. It’s an optional step since many glass pieces, including Legendary Glassware, don’t require color. However, if the artist chooses to incorporate any kind of shade, they’ll do it here by rolling the cylindrical heated glass over colored glass or dust and melding it into the piece. After that, it’s back to the glory hole to melt the glass together and keep it moving.
With color added, the piece is now ready to be shaped. To do this, the artist sets the molten glass end of the blowpipe down on their bench, being sure to keep it rotating and in constant motion with one hand. Using the other hand, they mold and model the glass using paddles, jacks, and other items.
Once the artist achieves a certain shape, whether it’s an oval, a flat plate, or another form, it’s time to blow into the glass. To do this, the glassblower must breathe into the far end of the blowpipe to create an air-filled bubble. From here, they may choose to gather more glass or add more color but the process, from furnace to marver to glory hole to shaping to blowing, will repeat over and over again until the piece is ready for those finishing touches.
Punt to the Punty
When the artist is satisfied with the design, it’s time to finish it by molding and shaping the end still attached to the blowpipe. To do this, they need to transfer the glass to the punty. It’s a metal rod that holds a small collection of molten glass (gathered right before it’s time for the transfer) meant to attach to the glass piece and hold it while the artist finishes.
The transfer is the riskiest part of the whole glassblowing experience. A wrong move will result in a glass piece, which the artist has already spent hours designing, falling and crashing to the ground. To avoid this, the artist must very carefully attach the far end of the glass to the punty and slowly release the blowpipe. If successful, they can then work on those final touches.
After the artist completes their work on the piece, they must carefully drop it from the punty into a soft bed of fire blankets. Wearing protective gloves, they then pick up the hot glass and place it into the annealer, the final furnace of the series. The glass will then cool as the temperature in the annealer drops from around 960℉ over the course of 14 hours. Once it’s reached the target temperature, the artist can then grind down any sharp edges that resulted between the punty and the annealer.