Do you ever get burned?
On occasion, but they are usually not severe. We take a good deal of precaution to prevent burns especially with beginners and students. The most common burns come from hot tools rather than hot glass.
What fires the furnaces?
Natural gas and forced air. The fuel is supplied by the city in the form of natural gas. The flame is made to burn hotter by mixing the fuel with air that is supplied by an electric blower.
Where do the colors come from?
Glass colors are created by adding metal oxides to the glass. These metal oxides are also known as colorants. Common colorants include cobalt oxide for blue, chromium oxide for green, manganese dioxide for purple. Gold, silver, nickel and many other elements can be added to glass to create a large variety of colors. There are companies and factories that produce glass color, and most studios purchase their glass color from these companies. Sonoran Glass School (SGS) has a color furnace and melts many of its own colors, including the Make-Your-Own Experience (MYOE) color and colors for students. In addition SGS offers classes in glass and color making. Watch a video about how a new purple was made in the Hot Shop.
Do you have to be able to blow hard to blow glass?
Not usually. There are variables that determine how much force is needed to inflate the glass bubble. The main variable is how molten the glass is. When the glass is very hot it is also very soft and even gentle puffs of air can inflate a bubble. As the glass cools it hardens and gets more and more difficult to inflate.
Is inhaling dangerous while blowing glass?
Not usually. If someone was inflating a bubble of hot glass and inhaled instead of exhaled there would be no harmful or painful effects.
How long has the hot shop been here?
SGS was founded in 1999 and began holding classes at Philabaum Glass Studio. The school was built and the hot shop opened in 2000.
How much glass is in the furnace?
When our furnace is full it holds about 400 lbs. of molten glass.
How hot are the furnaces?
The furnaces run between 1900 and 2300 degrees Farenheit. The common working temperature of the glass when it comes out of the furnace is usually 2075 degrees Farenheit.
Do you take commissions?
Yes. Please contact the front office at 520-884-7814. They will help determine how best to proceed. You can also view our web page that covers awards, custom work and repairs. by clicking here.
Do you teach classes?
Yes. Please visit the Hot Shop page (click here) to see the classes offered.
Why can’t I take my pieces home today?
Hot glass must be cooled slowly to avoid cracking or breaking. This process is called annealing and usually takes about 24 hours. Students will need to pick up their finished pieces during business hours, no appointment is needed. SGS can also send your item to you for the cost of shipping.
How old do people have to be to participate in a MYOE?
People need to be able to follow directions and be able to blow through a pipe. We have had children as young as five participate with the assistance of a parent or guardian.
Is blowing glass difficult?
Yes. But for MYOE our instructors are adept at enabling students to do as much as they are able, and expertly assisting with the more challenging parts of the process.
Learning how to successfully blow glass usually takes a year or more of regular practice. But you can have a great experience with hot glass by working with one of our instructors and participating in a MYOE.
How old do students have to be to learn glassblowing?
Blowing glass requires a certain amount of physical strength, coordination and caution. 13 years old is usually the youngest that we will teach. However, younger students can participate in a MYOE.
What’s the difference between a MYOE and a class?
A MYOE is a guided experience where the student participates in making an object out of hot glass. Students get to melt glass, manipulate the glass, add colors of their choosing and inflate the bubble. The difficult or technical work is done by an experienced instructor who is guiding the experience. The experience lasts 15-30 minutes and the student can expect a successful project.
Classes at SGS are focused on teaching the student how to blow glass for themselves. Techniques are demonstrated and explained and the student attempts the technique for themselves. Classes are much more in-depth and time intensive because the goal of classes is for the student to eventually be able to make their own pieces without the aid of an instructor. SGS has a curriculum of classes that begin with introductory classes for the beginner and progress to novice and intermediate classes. Once a student has gained a level of proficiency, they can participate in open studios for practice and experimentation.
How long have the instructors been blowing glass?
Instructors working with students and MYOE have a minimum of four years experience working with hot glass. Our hot shop director has been working with hot glass since 1999 and our lead gaffer since 2003.
When did people start blowing glass?
Glassblowing, as we know it, began in the first century A.D. by the Romans. The earliest handmade glass artifacts date to about 2,500 B.C.
Can you blow glass by yourself?
It is possible, but it’s difficult and not nearly as fun as blowing glass with other people.