"There is nothing more liberating than wielding a glass rod to an open flame, twisting and contorting it to the stretches of your imagination."
“I’ve always enjoyed playing with fire”
Dan got his start in glass blowing helping an old friend build their own personal glass blowing studio. In exchange for his help, he took lessons on the torch. Not long after, he was shopping for his own torch and renting a spot in the shop to keep learning and honing his craft.
Dan created 5 one-of-a-kind pieces for our raffle and we asked him to take us through his process and how our SunMed art took shape.
The heat resistant properties that make borosilicate great for pipes also means that it takes a higher temperature to melt and manipulate. Dan uses an oxygen/propane torch as the heat source with pre-manufactured clear tubing and color rod as the raw materials. This process is referred to as ‘lampworking’ and is how these pipes were made! After combining colored glass with clear tubing, melting and manipulating the glass to its final form, the piece goes into a kiln. The kiln brings the final piece through a controlled heat cycle where stress is released from the manufacturing process and then it’s slowly returned to room temperature. While glass is always somewhat fragile, this ensures maximum durability.
"The “sherlock”, “hammer”, and “side car” all use three separate hollow pieces that are sealed together, and the “spoons” are a blend of two hollow pieces. In terms of process, the bulk of the pieces start with clear tubing and colored frit (crushed colored glass that is sifted to be a consistent grain size) When the frit melts into the clear tubing from the inside, it creates the textured look while maintaining completely smooth surface on the inside and outside of the glass.
Fuming with silver (and sometimes other metals, like gold) is responsible for the classic “color changing” pipes. These metals can be vaporized and bonded to hot glass in a thin transparent film that has beautiful interactions with light. As a piece is used, resin can build up on the inside and create a dark backdrop that alters the way the light is reflected/refracted, and that makes it appear as a different color.
Advice for Aspiring Glass Artists
Starting with training from someone who knows what they are doing, especially with respect to safety, is key! A suitable workspace is important as well, I really can’t reiterate the safety thing enough. If fire, flammable/noxious gasses, sharp glass, and bright flares haven’t scared you off, make sure you do your research and always remember that safety comes first!!!
We hope this is an opportunity for enthusiasts or even those new to the community to learn a little bit more about the process behind glass blowing and a great local artist! Maybe this will spark interest in someone to go purchase their first glass piece ! There are always tons of designs and custom work available to choose from – so a good chance you’ll find something that speaks to you! When starting that journey - don’t forget to start locally first! You just might find something a little bit more meaningful.
Be sure to give Dan a follow on Instagram @Danglowsblass