If you’ve been mesmerized by the hit series on Netflix, Blown Away, you may be curious about all the talk of “glory holes.” No, I’m not talking about Urban Dictionary’s slang definition (you can wipe that look off your face right now!)…. It’s actually the hole providing access to a furnace used to reheat a piece of glass in between steps in the glass art making process.
For anyone who has not seen the videos of me creating glass art in the hot shop, a glory hole is a furnace-looking, cylindrical gas burner with a round hole at its center that I use to reheat my glass when it is on the end of my iron punty or blowpipe. Typically, it burns at between 2000 to 2,250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Otto Hilbert, a Corning Glass Works historian, suggested that the term comes from the religious idea of “glory” – when you put glass into the glory hole the light pours around your piece, creating a halo effect truly beautiful to behold.
The glass blowing process is simultaneously organic and very specific in terms of how you get to sculpt your vision but only within the physical limits the glass will allow. It has required a lot of learning, practice, and experience for me to get it right, but with that constant refinement, when you get it right, the results are just divine.
Curious to see more of my glass art process? You can watch more here:
I find that managing the heat is the greatest challenge in glass blowing. If the glass ever gets too cold too quickly, it cracks. If a piece is too cool when you attach a fresh bit of hot glass to it, it cracks. If a butterfly flaps its wings and causes a breeze, it cracks. Ok, the latter may be a slight exaggeration, but that’s why I’ve spent years honing my skills and continuously educating myself on new methods so that I can push myself and the glass to the full extent of my artistic talents. So while it may take numerous attempts to get it right, when I finally finish a piece of art to the point that it’s safe from the coldness of the world (and from the butterflies’ breeze), I can look back and see the whole process from start to finish with appreciation and gratitude. This is what makes glass art so special, so unique, and so timeless.
You might be wondering why I would choose such a hard medium as an artist, but it’s because of its very degree of difficulty, of doing something rare that requires so much precision and creativity, that makes the work so exciting and satisfying.