There’s been little in the way of glassblowing over the past month and the furnace build has been a BIG thing at SG Heights.
When there’s nobody else to tell you how to make a furnace and Google doesn’t throw up any answers (trust me, I Googled “how to build a furnace”), then things can get a bit fraught.
The thing is, everyone sees the fun bit – the magical “alchemy” of beautiful glass being created from molten blobs when Will and Johnny do their thing, but nobody sees the flipping hard graft that goes on behind the scenes.
I’ve said it before; this glassblowing jazz is no picnic. And these past few weeks have further cemented in my mind that to do this job you need tenacity, patience, and nerves of steel.
Every step of the way has thrown up new challenges.
When the main bit of kit you need to do your job is broken, you have to take things a bit seriously and hope beyond hope that when it’s switched on again it doesn’t crack, go out, or fall apart.
I’ve laughed at Will along the way for being so very particular about his drawings and measurements for things like brick placement, where to put the pot, for sitting and staring at the half-built kiln for hours on end, and for being distrustful about his own work, but actually I don’t have to blow glass for a living, so I’ve learnt to be almost, if not as, concerned for the success of this project than he is.
Along the way there’s been casting and polystyrene cutting (if you don’t like the sound of nails scraping along a chalk board then you are gonna HATE that noise!) There’s been making wooden moulds, casting cement in the bottom of the furnace; glueing, welding, screwing, drilling, woodcutting, and winching – lowering the pot down into the bottom of the furnace required some steady hands and eagle eyes, and there’s still the small matter of making sure all the connections are in the right place, that the door works and that the roof doesn’t collapse.
The biggest worry is that none of these things can really be tested until D-Day – when the furnace is lit again.
Another thing to factor in is the mess that’s been created throughout this process. There’s a fine layer of dust and grit that’s settled on pretty much everything in the workshop – including Will.
It’s been a hell of a job. Fingers crossed that Will’s precision, knowledge and care during this project pays off.
There’s a lot more that goes into your piece of glass than first meets the eye.
This is a creation beyond the capabilities of most of us – and we hope that when it’s back to roaring at 1200° that it will continue to sustain Will’s glassblowing for years to come.
We’ll know early next month if the furnace works - let’s hope the fire continues to burn for this glassblower and his passion – because he sure as hell deserves it after this.