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A glass blower is an artisan who uses a combination of techniques to create glass art. Glass blowing is actually a process of inflating molten glass with air using a blowpipe or tube. As the glass is formed, the shape and color are modified by the glass blower. There are several stages of heating and cooling used to modify the shape of the glass. There are four ways to become a glass blower: through part-time study, through professional courses, through an apprenticeship and via self-instruction.
The desire to become a glass blower is common among visual artists, who often are trained in sculpting and painting. Many of the final products of glass blowing are designed through a creative process and often are unique pieces of art. For example, a glass blower might decide to create a vase. He or she will identify the primary aspects of the vase and the approximate dimension and color, then start work. Some glass blowers also create pieces to order, but this is quite rare.
The first step to becoming a glass blower could be to take a part-time course from a community center or art center. An introductory class provides a combination of theory and practice in the basic concepts of glass blowing. Be prepared to pay an additional cost for materials or supplies, as well as the standard course fee.
Professional courses in glass blowing can be found through art schools or specialty colleges. These schools often provide a certificate or diploma program specifically designed for anyone who wants to find work as a glass blower. This type of program usually lasts one or two years often has a very limited class size. The best way to find a suitable program is to talk with local glass blowers.
An apprentice glass blower works and learns from a master glass blower. An apprenticeship can be a formal training program or a more casual work arrangement. In many cases, this is the best way to learn how to become a glass blower. Working under a professional glass blower provides access to the specialized equipment required, as well as training and guidance from a skilled artisan.
There is a large assortment of books, videos, pictures and reference materials that explain the principles and techniques used in glass blowing. Many people who want to become a glass blower start with this method of self-training. Access to the equipment is essential, however, and might require private arrangements with local glass-blowing businesses. This is a great starting point, and it allows students to form important connections with local glass blowers.
If you want to work with glass on a smaller scale, you should try lampwork, particularly creating small beads and bits of blown art glass. Lampwork doesn't require as much equipment as full blown glass blowing, but it can produce beautiful pieces of art. It is done with a special kind of blowtorch. I don't think lampwork techniques are nearly as versatile as glass blowing though.
I prefer pottery myself, as there is less chance of my setting the house on fire with clay, but there is the same feeling of creating something beautiful from raw material.
It is really difficult to start glass blowing, particularly as a hobby, on your own. The equipment is quite expensive, as is the operating costs, and it is always better to share these among a group.
Often blowing glass classes are held at a local studio which also houses professional artists. The classes will not only give you time to explore the craft and see if you are suited to it, they will also allow you to meet more experienced craftspeople who might eventually take you under their wings.
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