Beginners Guide to Glassblowing Techniques and Terminology
A Forever Growing List
What makes that piece so special? What makes one pipe different from the next?
Glass is an incredibly versatile medium that allows glass artists to use an astonishing variety of colors, techniques and styles that can be incorporated into intricate works of art. The glass community is passionate about producing wild and amazing glass that the rest of the cannabis community knows and loves. It’s with that support that glass artists are able to discover new and innovative techniques and continue pushing the boundaries of what the medium can do.
While the complete list of terminology used by glass artists is much more extensive, we wanted to write an article to help collectors understand the various techniques used to create awesome pieces like the ones you see on our site.
Twisty cane / Zanfirico
A traditional Italian technique involving colored glass twisted together to create a pattern into a single cane. The cane can then be used in a multitude of ways. For example, Zanfirico, or what is commonly now called twisty cane, can be coiled to create sections (referred to as coilpot), pulled into stringers for detail work, or can be used in a Reticello-like pattern. Twisty cane made from solid color can also be used as thumbprints.
A traditional Italian technique that involves a series of steps. Color rods are coated in clear glass, pulled down to a smaller size and cut into small rods. The rods are then wrapped into a cylinder and melted to create a tube (known as a stick stack). The tube is then twisted, and then placed inside a second tube made the same but twisted the opposite way. The two layers are then melted together to create a crisscross pattern.
A modern technique similar to a reticello, but where lines are drawn directly onto a clear tube (known as a “blank”) instead of using a stickstack. This generally results in a more filled out look than a reticello.
Filla / Flip
A modern technique where colored glass is pulled down into small stringers which are used to draw images directly onto clear blanks. The designs can either be drawn on the outside of the glass which more closely resembles a painting, or the designs can be flipped, so the image which originally faced inwards then faces outwards, creating a more defined look than leaving the design on the outside.
A signature technique of the glass pipe community made generally in one of two ways. Line work can be created by drawing colored and clear lines directly onto a blank, or using a stickstack, where clear and colored rods are arranged into a cylinder. The tube is then melted and pulled down into a longer, more narrow tube, which can then be used in a variety of techniques.
A technique where designs are drawn onto the end of a blank tube, the face of the tube is then heated and thickened, gathering the design and creating a 3D effect.
A variation of the implosion technique where tiny dots are arranged in a pattern on the end of a blank tube. When the design is thickened, the dots are pulled closer together, creating incredibly intricate images.
Murrine / Millifiori
Murrine and Millifiori are originally Italian terms used to describe two similar but differing techniques. Murrine refers to images made into long glass cane, which are revealed when the cane is cut into cross-sections. Millifiori - meaning “a thousand flowers” - originally refers to a very simple variety of Murrine, resembling tiny flowers, which are clustered together to create more intricate designs. However, within the glass community you will often hear the term “Milli” being used interchangeably with the term Murrine to refer to these miniature images, which can be incorporated into more complex pieces or collected on their own as tiny works of art in and of themselves.
Wrap & Rake / Feathering
A technique where molten glass is wrapped several times around a clear blank, then a glass or metal rod is dragged across the surface.
Crushed glass which is melted into/onto other glass to produce patterns and color.
A technique where two glass sections are joined together in such a way that it creates a defined line between the two sections. Incalmos can be used in between other kinds of sections, or whole sections or even pieces can be made by arranging incalmo lines into color patterns.
A bulge or ridge created in a glass tube by heating a small section or single point and pushing the glass together. Marriahs are used to add character to the shape of both clear and worked pieces.
Refers to any technique where solid or hollow glass is manipulated while still hot to create sculptural works of art that can be both functional and decorative. (Think bong chandelier)
In addition to the various techniques used to manipulate the glass while it is still molten, there are also a variety of ways that designs can be worked into the glass after it is shaped and cooled. These include cutting, carving, engraving, polishing, faceting and sandblasting.
There, now you’re like, smarter and stuff.
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Photo credit to the crew at Starship <3