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Destination Recreation: Blowing Glass - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Destination Recreation: Blowing Glass

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MANCHESTER, Vt. -

Andew Weill got hooked on glass blowing a long time ago.

"From the first moment I touched molten glass I was like I want to do this forever," he says.

Mission accomplished. Today he owns Manchester Hot Glass, a business that he started 14 years ago.

"I blow bubbles for a living," he says.

Weill makes all sorts of beautiful glass pieces. He also shares his craft with others in one-on-one classes. Students can make a variety of items from paper weights to vases to bowls.

I was lucky enough to give it a whirl.

"So these are your options, anything on here you can make; nothing here is out of your skill set because I'm going to help you," he says.

It was a tough choice, but we went with a wavy bowl.

First, Weill got about a pound and a half of glass from his 2,000-plus degree furnace.

"I'm in the glass so I'm taking a small gathering glass and that is a blob of molten hot glass," he says.

Next some color is added.

"Over here we have some white; it's just like applying sprinkles to an ice cream cone," he explains.

The glass is then reheated to be prepped for another dip of white.

"Another hit of white just to make it look awesome," he says.

This builds up a layer of colored glass. Now it's my turn to blow a bubble into the glass.

"Both hands on the pipe; keep turning and blow. Right now do it and just keep pressure in the pipe; I'll help you, keep turning it," he says.

After a little bit of time, the glass bubbled up a bit. Weill adds one more layer of glass from the furnace. The shaping process begins. We have to work quickly, or the glass won't cooperate.

"Turn so we're moving that glass around the cold bubble that we had; got nice, even things going on there," he says.

After a reheat, we use a stack of wet newspaper to smooth out the glass, a technique that's common in the glassblowing community.

"So I'm angling it down; I'm stretching a little bit, left hand on the pipe, come underneath...gently now, and we're chilling the bottom part," he explains.

Now it's time to stretch out the glass a bit more.

"You're gonna blow gently, both hands on the pipe, keep turning and blow easy," he says.

The shaping process continues with a few different tools. When we use a paddle to create the bottom of the bowl, it creates some sparks -- literally.

Next the glass, with the help of our assistant Molly, gets put onto another rod."It means we transferred it off of the blow pipe onto the punty iron which allows you to open up the top," he says.

Opening it up helps get that classic bowl shape.

"So left hand on the pipe between Molly's. Squeeze, them together, put them in the hole, spread the blade and put is down a little bit," he says.

This process is repeated until the bowl gets even bigger.

"I'm turning it slowly; trying to get as much heat into the glass as I can. I'm going to come out and spin it really fast like a pizza, then put it towards the floor," he says.

Now for the "ahhh---haaaa" moment.

"Now watch this; look at that! There's a big funky, wavy bowl," he says.

But before our masterpiece is complete, it gets a quick fire polish for a smooth bottom.

"And it's gonna go into this 900 degree oven where it's gonna cool down very slowly," he says.

Then the bowl will be ready to use.

There's no question that blowing glass is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun too.

After all these years, Weill still can't get enough of it.

"It's an amazing experience," he says.

Weill says he goes through about 300 pounds of glass each week. Classes start at $50, and children young as five can participate.

 

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