Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Glass Skills with Bill

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Hi, I'm Bill Gudenrath, I'm a glassblower and I'm sitting at my kitchen table in Corning, New York.

It's the 9th of April 2020.

And a bunch of people have asked me recently

is there anything I can do at home to practice glassblowing?

Well, this is one of a few videos I'm going to make because I think the answer is yes.

I think there are things you can do, that will give you more skill when you get back to the furnace, whenever that is.

This is about as complicated as furnace glassblowing gets. These are goblets given to the King of Denmark,

Frederick the Fourth during his 1708-1709

visit to Venice and Murano.

You might ask what's the most basic skill required of a glass blower to make such

elaborate objects.

Well, I would argue that it's gathering, it all boils down to the quality of your ability to gather.

One has to be a master of a huge variety of volumes for these ultra

virtuosic infections. For example staying with this wineglass,

here is a pretty big gather for the cup of this goblet.

Here's a smaller gather. This one's going to be for the stem.

Here's a medium-sized gather.

This will be for the foot and it's about halfway between the size of the cup gather and the stem gather.

Here's a rather teeny one and this is for the first merese the one at the base of the bowl.

And there are teenie gathers required for both the wings and their decoration on the surface of the wings.

These are all what I call collecting gathers.

The goal is to dip the punty or the pipe only about an inch into the glass and

to collect just as much glass as you want for the application. And

the deal is that's extremely important is that the gather should be half off

the end of the punty or the pipe. Here's the end of the punty or pipe--it shouldn't look like this.

It shouldn't look like that. It should be about half off.

And that will be a gather that you can keep under control and use for anything you want.

I should mention that there is another basic kind of gather that we use at the furnace. We've been looking at collecting gathers.

The other type is the coating gather. You simply lower the punty or pipe into the glass.

Pull it back,

rotate and exit the furnace.

It's not difficult at all. And it doesn't really require any practice. In fact, it's no more difficult than this.

So, what do you need at the kitchen table to practice gathering. Well not a lot. You need honey

or molasses, either works. I've got two cups here one is filled pretty much to the brim with honey.

The other one is lower down. This represents a full furnace. This represents the furnace that's a little bit lower. I've got


Chopsticks got to be round. You could use a stick or a twig from the backyard or a straw would work great.


this is the simulator. This is the gathering simulator. I call it. So you want to get on the ledge of the furnace--the cup?

Use both hands, because in gathering at the furnace we use both hands. You could certainly do this with one but I recommend two hands

You lower it in an inch,

turn and speed up and as you get to the horizontal position you slow down.

Let's look at that from a couple of angles.

The chopstick goes on the ledge of the furnace turning always. Go in oh about a quarter of an inch here and

that's where the magic happens.


then exit the furnace. Now, I'm gonna peel this off and do it again. I like to imagine I open the door

put the punty or the blowpipe in,

stick it in about a quarter of an inch,

accelerate get to horizontal and there's where the magic happens and there's your nice collecting gather.

Here's the cup that represents the furnace a little bit lower it needs a charge. You can still gather perfectly well.

And if you master this dynamic process, I

promise you it will transfer exactly to the furnace.

Before we finish, I want to show you again,

what a good collecting gather looks like and what a bad collecting gather looks like. A good collecting gather, as I said before is

characterized by the glass being half off the end of the rod or the blowpipe. A bad

collecting gather

looks like this.

Come out too slowly and the glass is all on the side of the punty or the pipe. Doesn't do you any good.

What counts and what you need is the glass to be off the end,

because that glass stays hot. The glass immediately touching the blowpipe or the punty is

cooled. The punty or the blowpipe acts as a heat sink--pulls the glass out very quickly. You want to be able to gather,

however small and have it look like that.

This is an exceptionally complicated goblet, probably made for the King of Sweden in the late 17th century.

Thus the mirror monogram Carl and Eleonora.

You might think and it would be entirely reasonable to assume that the hardest part certainly the scariest part

but the hardest part is the assembly of all of these parts.

Well, that's really not so.

For a glassblower the truth is the hardest part of making this and really any goblet is the opening of the cup.

That's what really reveals the skill of a glassblower. How well the opening procedure is executed.

I know it's hard to believe and I tell students this all the time the hardest thing about making a dragon stem goblet or

anything like these super complicated objects is

opening the cup.

But anyway that aside. After

that, the hardest thing is gathering. If you're a master of gathering, all of this will come much more easily. And

anything you learn at the kitchen table with honey and a chopstick,

I promise you will transfer beautifully to the furnace when you get back to it and we all hope that soon.

Thanks a lot. I hope you enjoyed this.

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