Glass Pipe Making Techniques

Written by michaelyn erickson
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Glass Pipe Making Techniques
Glass blowing is an ancient art that requires much expertise to execute properly. (glasbläser image by fotohansi from Fotolia.com)

There are many glass blowers who make pipes exclusively during heir career. The art is 3,500 years old, and today, it is again a growing industry. World class trade shows are held annually in celebration of glass pipe making. Making a glass pipe requires specific coordination, practice and expertise. You will not be able to create a functional pipe during your first session behind a glass torch. Learn from other skilled craftsmen. Put in some practice with the flame, and you will learn an ancient and interesting skill.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Glass tubes and rods
  • Glass blowing torch
  • Graphite rod
  • Graphite bowl pusher
  • Glass blowing tweezers
  • Glass blowing scissors
  • Propane tank
  • Oxygen tank
  • Electric kiln

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pull a glass point out of a tube. This is a preparation step in the pipe making process. Hole a tube in both hands with one hand on either side of your torch flame. As you spin the tube, heat it in the middle until the glass become viscous. When it is a red hot liquid, pull your hands apart. The tube will stretch out becoming extremely small in diameter, at the centre. This technique must be done in a consistent motion to create a symmetrical shape. Break the tube in half at the thinnest point.

  2. 2

    Heat one of these newly pulled handles in the flame. Reduce the broken end in the flame until it seals. Add colour to the tube. Draw on the glass with colour rods in the flame. Create lines, dots, letters or patterns by heating the colour rod and drawing on the clear glass with it. Melt in the colour by heating and spinning the tube in the flame, until the coloured glass is flush with the clear glass. This technique is called 'outside work' on a glass pipe.

  3. 3

    Heat the recently sealed end of the tube until it is red hot and molten. Blow gently into the cool end of the tube to create a round bubble on the hot end. Heat a small point on the bubble until it become white hot. Blow hard into the cool end while the point is still hot to form a hole. Keep the hole small and heat a greater area around it out to about a half inch in diameter around the hole. Use the graphite bowl pusher and push it into the hot glass to create a perfect indent with the small hole right in the middle. This is the pipe bowl.

  4. 4

    Heat the end of a rod of clear glass until it is molten. While the tube is relatively cool, meaning not red hot, stick the clear rod to the end of the tube, creating a handle exactly opposite the one you have been using. Because the clear glass is hot and the blown tube cool, the handle will easily break off later.

  5. 5

    Support the weight of your piece with the clear rod handle, and heat the place where the original tube handle attaches to your pipe. Break or separate the clear tube from your coloured pipe, to create the mouthpiece. Trim any excess glass from a jagged break or melt it into the mouthpiece. Use a graphite rod to shape the hold into a symmetrical mouthpiece. Work this area in the flame, until you are confident that it is rounded and not sharp.

  6. 6

    Once the mouthpiece has been trimmed and shaped, insert glass tweezers into the mouthpiece, and use them to hold the pipe steady. Use a graphite rod to gently knock the clear handle off the opposite end, and if necessary, polish the area in the flame for a moment. Kiln the pipe using a predetermined kiln cycle.

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