Glass Blowing 101: All Of The Terms You Need To Know

Glass blowing is, and always will be, considered a true art form. Glass is an incredibly versatile material, and can be formed for nearly any function imaginable– especially when in the hands of an experienced glass blower. Master glass blowers have spent years, often times decades, learning and perfecting techniques (not to mention acquiring the necessary space & equipment). For a beginner, learning the terminology is usually task #1 to becoming a reputable artist. Read more below for a rundown from our smoke shop team on all of the terms you need to know!

Glossary of Terms

Annealing

  • This is the process of using heat to to release the pressure and strain placed on the glass during the forming and shaping process.

Blow Hose

  • A neoprene or silicone hose attached to a swivel on one end, and a mouthpiece on the other. This is used to allow the glassblower to blow into the glass tube while he works the glass over a flame.

Casing

  • The practice of layering one color of glass tubing over another, usually clear over color.

Didymium

  • A type of glass lens with a specialized violet hue to filter out harmful rays of light emitted by glass when heated to the extreme temperatures required to melt and shape the glass.

Fuming

  • A technique used by many talented glassblowers, fuming is the act of heating metals such as gold or silver to vaporize and release fumes while in the flame. When a glass piece is held slightly behind the metals, the fumes settle onto the cooler glass surface and create beautiful colors.

Graphite

  • Carbon in a near-natural crystalline form. This is commonly shaped into tools used for glassblowing, due to carbons natural heat-resistant and anti-stick properties.

Hard Glass

  • This is a common moniker for Borosilicate Glass, commonly used in glassblowing– especially for functional art, such as dab rigs and pipes.

Kiln

  • This is basically a super-heated oven. Often reaching temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, these ovens are used to gently cool glass over time after it has been formed over a flame. The prolonged, gradual cooling process keeps fragile glass from cracking due to quick temperature drops.

Lathe

  • A tool that some glassblowers consider essential, a lathe spins glass tubing at a consistent rate, and keeps the glass perfectly aligned. Using a lathe also frees up the artists hands while spinning.

Melting Point

  • The temperature at which glass starts to transform from a solid to a liquid, allowing an artist to form and shape the glass.

Oxidizing

  • An atmosphere at contains high amounts of oxygen and low amounts of un-combusted gases can affect colored glass, especially colors that contain metallic fumes or oxides.

Punti

  • A glass rod connected to the piece being worked to provide a handle while the piece is being made. This piece provides extra stability, and is broken off towards the end of the forming process.

Reamer

  • A graphite tool used by the glassblower for forming holes and other shapes while forming the piece.

Sodium Flare

  • A bright flame or “flash” resulting from the reaction between the oxygen-rich flame from the torch, and sodium on the surface of the glass tubing.

Thermal Shock

  • The strain created from cooling or heating a piece of worked glass too quickly, usually resulting in a crack or break.

Vermiculite

  • A material used to insulate heat and prevent worked glass from cooling too quickly. This material is normally used in between flame working and the kiln.

Wig Wag

  • A technique of blowing glass where the artists slowly twists line-worked tubing in one direction with one hand, and the opposite direction with the other. This tube is then condensed, and blown back out to reveal the design created.