Glass Blowers Blocks

So it was bound to happen.. Glass Blowers blocks

My workshop is in the heart of the glass making industry for the last few hundred years, Stourbridge. in the West Midlands. And now there are glass blowers and glass artists here, rather than the old big firms .. link to brief history of Stourbridge glassmaking

I'm inside the Ruskin Glass Centre, an old factory building of Webb Corbett and within a hundred yards or so are a number of glassblowers who either work for themselves or within the Glass House College
making and teaching glass blowing.

One of the staff of the college asked me if I could make a block.. one of the tools used to shape and even out some of the lumps and bumps in the process of blowing the glass..

He had a couple of Cherry tree logs for me to use and they were getting low on these tools.

click on the photos to enlarge

Here's one being used, the glass is on the end of the iron, which is rotated on the rails of the bench.
The block is held beneath applying pressure to the glass to get the required shape.

During the process..

When not in use and between shaping, to keep them from burning to a cinder, the blocks are dipped into a bucket of cold water, then after they just sit there, in the bucket ready for the next session.

Here are some of their 'well used' and now 'out of action' blocks...

I love making tools, and to make one that has nothing to do with woodworking is a little different..
But chatting to those around me, I got a feel for what was needed... Oh.. and no one could show me a block in perfect new condition, because from the first time that you 'burn in' the tool, it starts to get worn out..

So, here it is..Cherry Wood with an Ash handle..the handle was part of a chair leg,
 from the college that had got broken and could not be used for anything else.. 

I took it round to show the guys. Even with the finish on the inside of the bowl straight from a gouge, 
they said it was like a Rolls Royce version.. and I didn't need to shape the outside so well.. oh, and don't bother with the decoration around the handle.. (this was already on the chair leg) so it was a freebie..

The 'burning in' process.. love the colour of the wood..
and.. if you hadn't noticed yet, all of these used block photos are of the one I made 

Thanks for looking

All the best



That's so cool, what a unique item to make. Not something that most people will ever get to claim that they have made, lucky you!
Jamie said…
Thanks Mario,

A privilege great to make a tool that a skilled craftsman will use to earn his living.
The guys said it was a 'fancy' block as they put it. They're not used to having all of the corners 'knocked off'... but as a woodworker we think about balance, weight and comfort. These guys don't seem to worry about those things, probably because they are only using it for a very short amount of time.

The feedback is that the tools great.. so the extra bits must have made a difference..

All the best


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