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Out-of-print and Hard-to-find books and information for Glass Artists and Collectors

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books about glassblowing, glass blowing

This is our favorite type of glass art these days (though fused glass and kiln-casting are moving up fast). Hot glass seems to be THE choice of art glass extroverts everywhere! Macho or Macha, it takes a certain type of personality to think they can tame this molten stuff. Go for it.

Glassblowing - by Frank Kulasiewicz

As a sometime glass blower, I love this book!! It was the first modern book on glass blowing that actually shows you how to blow glass.

As it says on the cover, this book is about: "Building and using furnaces, ovens, and tools - Making, melting, gathering, blowing, and annealing glass - Forming handles and stems, decorating, and coloring."

"The book... begins with directions for building a simple, economical furnace and annealing oven, and for setting up a complete studio. A chapter on tools shows how to make and use all the items necessary for forming glass. Then the reader is given detailed instructions for firing the furnace, melting the glass, and using the annealing oven.

... the reader is introduced to the various kinds of glass, and the chemistry and uses of each type. Then, step-by-step, the author discusses the techniques of making glass from scratch - materials, recipes, and how to arrive at your own formulas.

Clear, easy-to-follow, illustrated demonstrations present the methods for gathering and blowing glass, adding handles and stems, and surface decoration. ...molten glass decoration, incorporating bubbles, metallic coatings, cut and engraved glass, flocking and sandblasting, using iridescent colors, stains, lusters, and coloring oxides... A thorough appendix includes reference tables and glass recipes, as well as a glossary, bibliography, and suppliers list."

Beginning Glassblowing - by Ed Schmid

This is flat-out the BEST book currently available on learning how to blow glass. Ed has been working with and teaching others how to work with hot glass for years. His hand-drawn pages and step-by-step instructions will have you blowing beautiful glass objects in no time. Buy it. Read it. Do it!

Ed's Big Handbook of Glassblowing

This is the first edition of the book listed above. It's become quite a valuable collector's item, and is rarely seen offered for sale. When you find one, be prepared to pay dearly, and to act fast. They're in demand.

Advanced Glassworking Techniques - by Ed Schmid

This is Ed's followup text for those who've mastered the basics. Loaded with information and just about double the size of his beginners' book (for just a little bit more money). Did I mention that Ed does all of the hand-lettered text and illustrations himself?

Glassblowing a Search for Form - by Harvey Littleton

"Harvey Littleton instituted the first course in glassblowing in an American university. In this book he presents his thoroughly individual approach to glass as an art form... based on a lifetime studying and working with glass.

Professor Littleton discusses the historical background of glass, the nature and composition of glass, the tools needed for glassblowing, and... how to set up a studio.

He covers the techniques of glassblowing in detail. Also included is advice on safety measures in the laboratory.

In a brief and fascinating diary, Professor Littleton recounts his work with Erwin Eisch, the Bavarian glass artist. Here he virtually draws the reader into the laboratory to watch master craftsmen at work, and the formulas used by them are given in chart form. The glass of Tiffany, Lalique, and Gallé, as well as works of Professor Littleton and other contemporary artists illustrate the beauty of fine glass, and glassworking procedures are demonstrated in numerous step-by-step photographs.

Studio Glassmaking - by Ray Flavell and Claude Smale

"Flavell and Smale show how simple it is to set up a studio workshop for glassmaking. They discuss the physical nature of glass..., the historical development of glassmaking, and then describe the various techniques and equipment that can be used. Each topic is accompanied by clear line drawings and photographs."

Chapters include:

  • What is Glass? - the chemical and physical properties of glass, with information on the raw materials used in various types of glass.
  • Glass and Colour - addition of various metallic oxides to the glass batch to produce different colors.
  • Historical Techniques - from ancient Egypt to Rome; from Venice to Bohemia and England.
  • The Glassblowing Process - Basic techniques including gathering, reheating, marvering, blowing, necking, blocking, puntying, annealing, and common faults. More advanced techniques include: forming a bowl or platter, making a simple foot, stemmed pieces, making a handle, lids and knobs, composite forms, rods and tubes, trapping air bubbles for decorative effects, molding methods using wooden and metal molds... Lots of easy-to-understand diagrams and illustrations.
  • Decoration - Hot methods: trailing, prunts, embossing, coloured canes, casing, making the glass iridescent, enamels. Cold methods: cutting, wheel and diamond engraving, etching, sand blasting.
  • Glassworking without a Furnace - Kiln-firing, lampworking.
  • Setting up a Workshop - The "chair", hand tools, marver, glory-hole, grinder, construction of a furnace (very basic, but highly usable!!)
  • Craftsmen and Design Considerations

The Glassblowing Studio - by Fritz Dreisbach

I've never seen a copy of this book, but knowing Fritz, it's probably pretty useful; and most likely pretty entertaining as well. Keep looking back on Amazon to find a copy, but know that I'm trying to get one too.

The Art of Glass Making - by Sidney Waugh

Written in the late 1930s by longtime Steuben glass designer Sidney Waugh, this book gives a good historic overview of the glassblowing process. Illustrated throughout with black and white photos of Steuben craftsmen at work.

Glassblower's CompanionA Glassblower's Companion: A Compilation of Studio Equipment Designs, Essays, & Glassblowing Ideas - by Dudley F. Giberson, Fritz Dreisbach (Editor), Linda Burdick (Editor)

Here's a review from Mike Firth, Hot Glass Bits furnace glassblowing newsletter:

"Having gotten my copy, I am impressed by the book. This book is primarily an equipment book with excursions into the history of working glass and how it might have been done down through the centuries. If I had to position it with respect to Henry Halem's book, Glass Notes, I would say that while Henry has a bias toward big expensive equipment and offers a lot of casting information, Dudley has a bias toward buildable equipment and offers many hints on bead making. For a person starting to build equipment, I would say that Dudley's book is more useful. The content of the book includes 5 glory holes, 10 glass melting furnaces, 5 annealers and 5 accessories involving heating. Each of the first three groups includes items that are more useful for theory, philosophy or history than for construction. There are a lot of well done computer assisted drawings.

Dudley offers a lot of detail and specifics on gas burner systems, given prices and part numbers, as would seem likely for a person who sells burner heads. There are many strong opinions and references, charts and formulas to serve as a starting point for many tasks. Information ranges from cutting a mold to using 3 phase power. It is obvious the man has built a lot of equipment and learned from failures and half-successes.

This book has leaped onto my list of must own books for furnace workers. Henry talks more about coloring and using glass, but for exposure to the range of work involved in furnace glass working, I will recommend one of Ed Schmid's books and this one. 12/27/98"

Glass Notes - Henry HalemGlass Notes: A Reference for the Glass Artist by Henry Halem

This book is every bit as helpful as the one listed above. If you're serious about blowing glass (and especially about having your own studio) get them both!

Hot Glass Information Exchange - by John M. Bingham

This large paperback book includes 23 articles by various authors on melting and blowing glass. It's a bit older (1979), and Giberson's and Halem's books have more up-to-date information, but this one is still useful if you're building your own hot shop.

Gas BurnersGas Burners for Forges, Furnaces, and Kilns - by Michael Porter

"Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces, & Kilns" is a do-it-yourselfers dream book, showing beginners how to make highly efficient gas burners inexpensively. These burners use simple gas accelerators as their central operating principle. All that is needed is a $2 MIG tip and some plumbing parts. This eliminates the need for a blower to supply combustion air, allowing the burners to be built in any size.

Burners are featured which are small enough to be used for a jewelry torch, or large enough to heat any ceramic kiln. Because these burners are both powerful and portable, they can be combined with low cost space age insulating materials and common containers to build light compact heating equipment.

Also described is a blacksmith's forge that can be carried anywhere and stored under a workbench; a portable metal melting furnace; a portable farrier's forge; a portable glass furnace/glory hole; and a mobile hot-work station that aids in combining several crafts... General information and specific designs are given, enabling the craftsperson to build equipment tailored to their own desires." - from the amazon.com website


Find more details on this one in our Glass Artists, Studios, and companies section. We've added it here because we think it's a terrific resource for glassblowers. Its appendix includes over 7,000 line drawings of glass pieces made by Carder and his Steuben Glassworks. Tired of making the same old vessels? Look here for inspiration.

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Copyright ©2011 Fledgling Studio and John R. Cumbow

updated June 2011