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All About Glass

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Glass Education Innovator: Boyd Sugiki

All About Glass

Traditionally, glassblowing is learned first through observation, then by practice (and more practice!) Glass is a challenging medium and only dedicated glassblowing students will gain true competency to know what to do to achieve a desired design. Boyd Sugiki stands out among glass educators for his ability to articulate when, how, and most importantly, why particular techniques and maneuvers lead to successful results.

Sugiki created the illustrations below to accompany his lectures and videos. During a live glassblowing demonstration, an object is in a constant state of flux and it is always in motion. These visual aids can effectively slow down the process and allow Sugiki to go into great detail describing a maneuver that might take mere seconds to execute.

Illustration: Building Up HeatBuilding Up Heat

Managing heat can be daunting to an inexperienced glassblower. If the piece gets too hot, the glass can soften and lose a desired shape or texture. If the piece gets too cold, it can catastrophically crack and break. This leaves a narrow margin of success: glass that is not too hot, and not too cold. "BUH" is a strategy for intentionally heating the glass without compromising the shape or integrity of the object.

Download the Building Up Heat PDF


Illustration: BowlsBowls

Bowls are among the most challenging blown vessel shapes to create. The ability to achieve a smooth, continuous curve, maintain symmetry, and keep the lip and foot parallel to one another are true markers of skill. Utilizing heat and centripetal force is necessary to create these shapes, but only to a point. A glassblower needs to intervene with tools to reign in these forces and control the bowl’s profile.

Download the Bowls PDF


Illustration: The PuntyThe Punty

Removing a finished glass object from the punty is a precarious act, as the glass needs to break with precision. The preparation and application of the punty is equally important to how the glass is cooled and cracked. This illustration gives us a better understanding of the ideal shape, scale, and stress needed for a successful punty transfer, and later, the punty removal.

Download the Punty PDF


Illustration: TumblersTumblers

While a drinking cup seems like a simple project, creating and controlling nuanced shapes is another marker of skill. Subtle differences in the thickness of the bubble wall will influence how the glass will stretch and inflate, and ultimately determine the shape.

Download the Tumblers PDF


Illustration: StraighteningStraightening

Maintaining symmetry is of utmost importance in intentional vessel-making. Working with glass that has fallen off-center feels like driving with a flat tire! Following a punty transfer, there is a short window of opportunity to make a correction if the object is not perfectly centered.

Download the Straightening PDF


Illustration: The Ins and Outs of Internal and External RingsThe Ins and Outs of Internal and External Rings

Creating interior and exterior folds in glass can be mystifying to a lay-person. This drawing illustrates how the shape of the bubble, intentional heating, and appropriately applied force will result in carefully positioned rings.

Download the Ins and Outs of Internal and External Rings PDF

 

Illustration: CylindersCylinders

It’s very possible to make a straight-walled, cylindrical vessel by forcing the exterior into shape, but it’s another challenge to properly inflate and shape a cylinder that is beautifully proportioned. This illustration describes how to address the shape when inflating the bubble so that the walls that have a consistent thickness from top to bottom, and how to tool the glass after it has been transferred to the punty.

Download the Cylinders PDF

Published on May 2, 2018

Boyd Sugiki
Boyd Sugiki has presented solo shows at Traver Gallery in Seattle, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, and in the Museum of Northwest Arts Benaroya Glass Gallery. His work is included in many collections, including the Honolulu Academy of Art; the...
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