by Grady Mitchell | Tradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed!
Today we visit Brad Turner, an artist and glassblower at Terminal City Glass Co-op, where you can book equipment and attend classes on all things glass…
1. Blocks and Wet Newspaper | “Blocks are made from fruit-bearing wood, generally cherry or apple. They are always kept in water to prevent excessive burning, and are used to shape fresh, hot glass straight out of the furnace. When used properly, the glass rides on a thin layer of steam, leaving the glass smooth and clean. Wet newspaper works in a similar manner, and is useful for different kinds of shaping.”
2. Jacks | “I equate Jacks with a Chef’s knife. It is the glassblower’s most personal and essential hand tool, and you can often tell someone’s experience just by seeing how they handle them. They are used to shape and straighten the glass, but the Jacks’ most common use is to squeeze a restriction into the glass called a Jack Line. This is where the glass will break off the pipe.”
3. The Glory Hole | “Yes, that’s what it’s called! And has been for centuries. It is used to reheat the glass being worked on. For this type of glass-blowing, specifically called “furnace working” or “off-hand” glass-blowing, I have 15-30 seconds to work before the glass is too cold to properly affect. At that point, the piece needs to go back to the gloryhole for a reheat. If a piece is particularly complicated one may go from the gloryhole to the bench and back for hours without a break.”