Science and The Art of Glass Blowing

I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to see real live glass blowing. Until I got a chance to see the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, glass blowing was something I had only seen on the Discovery channel. The possibilities for what can be made from glass are endless.

Museum of Glass
Museum of Glass

The Museum of Glass features artists in addition to their permanent and outdoor collections. The artist designs the piece, and then it is forged in the hot shop which is open to the public for viewing. The hot shop is a unique feature that I have not seen at other museums. While the team works, the audience can learn about the process and ask questions. The shop is kid friendly and provides opportunities for children to submit design entries for a chance to have their design made.

Silica is the main ingredient in glass which they refer to as sand. Soda ash is added to the Silica to lower the melting temperature and increase fluidity. Calcium oxide increases the chemical stability and strength of the glass. Additional ingredients are added to soften the glass, prevent the formation of crystals, increase the durability, and increase the brilliance. The Museum of Glass compares the glass recipe to that of chocolate chip cookies, however glass is not edible no matter how delicious it looks. The glass is heated to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit when it is ready to blow. If you really want to see real life magic The Rupert’s Drop is a must watch. Hitting the drop with a hammer will not break it, but breaking the tail causes the drop to explode.

Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass

The Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, WA is another breathtaking glass museum featuring indoor and outdoor glass artwork. If you have a chance to see it in the evening, I strongly suggest it because that is when the garden really comes to life. It is a long-term exhibition near the famous Space Needle in Seattle Center. The displays are enormous and the most extravagant and appealing that I have ever seen. Dale Chihuly has an exhibition of his drawings on view at The Museum of Glass for a short time. Mediums for these drawings include graphite, charcoal, and acrylic. Any design that can be drawn on paper can be transformed into glass which is truly amazing. This is an opportunity to see the science of glass blowing and art come together.

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