How-To Hump Day: Kick-starting a glassblowing hobby

By Curly

Happy Hump Day, everyone! If you’ve been following our blog, either here or on the Lazydaze site, you know that we usually do ridiculous DIY projects on Wednesdays for our your amusement. We’re going to start taking a broader approach to our mid-week craftiness, exploring any number of ways to get more hands-on in whatever part of counterculture you’re interested in.

With this weekend’s grand opening of Lazydaze’s downtown store/glassblowing studio hybrid, I thought I’d get a feel for exactly how viable glassblowing is as a hobby. Flame worker Jared Hammond started working with glass three years ago and now has his own shop, Rebelz Glass, in Austin, and it could all be traced back to his pipe collecting.

Like any hobby you take up, there’s definitely a monetary investment. But, if some people are willing to shell out $300 for a guitar if they feel passionately about learning, it’s definitely feasible to invest in glassblowing if you want to take a glass hobby to the next level.

So, what do you need to get started? Well, if you’re learning to manipulate glass for the first time, you should, and I can’t stress this enough, be working in a controlled environment with an expert or professional. We’ve seen some pretty gnarly injuries in our day from glassblowing.

Dripping molten glass on your foot and setting your house on fire?

That said, if you’re taking lessons, the studio will probably equip you with most of the supplies and safety equipment. It’s good to be prepared, though. According to Jared, the absolute first thing you need to get yourself is a pair of Amethyst Contrast Enhancer (ACE) Shade 3 welding lenses.

“The amethyst in the lens keeps all the sodium flare down from getting in your eyes, so basically you can see what you’re doing and it doesn’t look orange when you’re looking at the fire,” Jared explained.

You’ll hear these referred to as Didymium lenses, even though the actual Didymium lens isn’t sold much anymore since they didn’t offer infrared protection.

Naturally, after you get your welding lenses, you need to get yourself some glass. Now, don’t go melting down your mom’s fine china, OK?

Your smoking habit’s already killing her.

Give your mom a hug and get yourself some glass canes in a color you dig (Austin Flameworks sells canes here. You’re welcome). At this point, the other tools you procure really depend on what you want your first project to be.

“I would recommend maybe somebody starting off with something simple like a pendant, just to get a feel for glass,” Jared said. “Then, if you want to blow or if you want to get into smoking accessories, maybe start off with a small spoon, which is just a general-shaped pipe without any kind of work on it.

Both are easy shapes, and once you master the latter, you’re one step closer to making your own smoking device. For these two projects, all you need are the aforementioned glass and lenses, a torch (presumably provided by the studio you’re learning from), a bowl press (graphite, since it doesn’t stick to molten glass) and your own two hands.

“Sometimes, at first, you kind of just work with what you’ve got—a basic tool set and a few other things,” Jared said. Then, as you progress and you start experimenting with different types of projects, “you’ll start kind of customizing and getting into what tools you like better.”

Claw-grabbers, tweezers, glass scorers, tungsten picks, reamers and graphite paddles are all some tools at your disposal.

“Not everybody makes pipes,” he said. ”Some people just like to make pendants, some people just make water pipes [and] some people just work on lathes; they don’t even blow glass with their hands.”

With so many directions in which to take flame working, it’s definitely a viable hobby for those who loves working with their hands and breaking a sweat. Lazydaze Flameworks is going to have their first official glass workshop in two weeks, so we’ll keep you posted—it might be the perfect introduction to your new hobby.

Lazydaze Flameworks kicks off glassblowing classes

Lazydaze has got it going on. Check here every Tuesday to see what, exactly, we got going on.

By Zatch

We had our first flameworking lessons over here at Lazydaze Flameworks in San Antonio, giving our employees dibs. But now that we’ve got some of the guys and gals behind the counter acquainted with the torches, it’s your turn.

That could be your back.

“I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to make something,” said Ge, one of the guys we normally keep stuffed behind the sales counter. “That is probably what stuck out the most to me, that I was able to real-time watch myself create something.”

Kevin Ivey and the other teachers showed Ge a great cross-section of glass-making techniques. In one session, Ge made a spoon, a pendant for his mom and a handful of marbles. You don’t have to give the pendant to your mom, but let’s face it – you haven’t given her anything in a long time.

While color use in glass-blowing is fairly complicated for beginners, Kevin even gave Ge and the other students a tiny taste of psychedelic color.

“We got to really get a grasp of the work that goes into the pipes,” Ge said.

The coolest part is, Ge told us he’s already saving up to buy a torch.  

“I was really proud of myself for going through with something and completing it,” he said.

We’re excited to see Ge’s progress.

Our first open class will be Aug. 25. A five-hour class is $200 with all supplies included. For more info, hit us up at (Kinda obvious, huh?)