Sunday, August 15, 2010

The World's Tallest Vase?

I don't have pictures yet, as the piece is still in the annealer.  It certainly won't be the world's tallest, but it will be the tallest piece I've ever made.  Or is it the longest?  Either way it is big.  

So what is "IT"?

I was glassblowing yesterday, during my normal time slot.  I am making a new series of tall vases (vessels?) that have curved, swooping tops.  Not entirely ready to post pictures, nor do I have the ability to make a decent picture of them.  Anyway, the first piece I made was a very nice vase about 16" tall.  The only problem is that is was very plain and had pretty thick walls.  I was having a little bit of trouble and accidentally bumped the pipe ever so slightly.  BONK.  The piece hit the floor.  It survived and I thought I could rescue it.  Rather than just putting it into the annealer - it would have been a good piece of "Flintstone-ware", or a good blank for carving and sandblasting.  But no, I was going to be a hero and re-punty the thing and finish it according to plan.  Almost made it too.  Got very near the end and the cold spot where it was resting on the floor for a few seconds cracked.  Oh well - 45 minutes wasted.

The second piece was much nicer.  I followed the same steps, but this time things were looking up.  However, another problem occurred.  I put bases on the tallish vessels.  This is done with a "cookie foot", basically a patty of glass.  Now I've made hundreds of them and usually pretty good.  This time I wasn't.  I did some things to correct it, but it wasn't going to be one of my best pieces.  My glass blowing partner, John, said "Keep working, you never know how it will look finished, and you can cold work it later".  OK, keep pushing through the piece.  

It was very hot and humid yesterday, actually the entire last two months, and I just wanted to finish the piece.  To stretch the neck, you get it pretty hot and swing it out.  I wasn't paying attention and got it rip roaring hot.  Usually, I don't work that hot as it is easy to lose control of the piece.  I started the stretch and it was going quite well.  Going fast, too.  I kept letting it drop down.  The base of the piece is six or seven inches across and the neck tapers down to about an inch and a half.  And there is a lot of neck.  Kinda like a giraffe.  There is a a wide mouth at the very top which is probably three inches wide.

Getting it knocked off the pipe was a lot easier than I thought.  Getting it into the annealer wasn't.  The annealer is about 54" long and 24" wide, and pretty deep.  There were already some big pieces in there so there was about 48" of length to put the piece.  I put it in and it didn't fit.  I had to lean it up against the far wall.  At least I avoided placing it against the elements!  I don't think it'll slump, but who knows.

I have no idea if the thing will even stand up, or be worth finding a way to stabilize it.  But it sure was fun, and it rates a story here.  A real conversation piece.

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