If you’re interested in becoming a glassblower or are just curious about what it takes to start this unique craft – then you’ve come to the right place.
Glassblowing is not only a fascinating art form but an age-old technique that many still use today. Different industries like architecture, chemistry, and physics use glassblowing in their research. People who are talented enough can become glassblowers that create beautiful pieces of art.
Learn more about how to become a glassblower and what it takes to enter this unique trade.
What Does A Glassblower Do?
Glassblowers create different products by manipulating molten glass in a furnace with tools like pipes and rods. They’re able to create an infinite variety of shapes, colors, and styles of glass pieces. These range from paperweights to large installations in an art gallery.
Glassblowers can also use numerous colors to add patterns or texture to the sculptures they create. Sometimes they mix different types of glass to create a unique look for their artwork.
Their other responsibilities include:
- Keeping a record of the amount of glass used in each project so they can calculate costs for materials
- Fixing any breakages that occur during the process
- Making sure their workspace is temperature-controlled and ventilated to ensure safety while working with molten hot glass
- Taking part in regular maintenance of their equipment like the blowpipe, punty, pontil, bench, and marver
- Working with a team of other artists and craftsmen to produce their items
Glassblower actually makes it to our list of jobs for people with back pain due to the lack of intense physical work or hard labor needed. You may sit quite a bit, but with the right chair and frequent stretching your back may be able to tolerate it!
How To Become A Glassblower
The first thing you need to become a glassblower is tons of patience. You must learn the fundamentals of glassblowing, and there is no shortcut around this process. You can’t just read a book and become successful at the art of glass in a few days or weeks.
While you can find courses that teach the basics of glassblowing, most people prefer to apprentice with an experienced glassblower. Not only can you ask them questions about the craft, but they can also offer their guidance as a mentor throughout your learning process.
When going for an apprenticeship opportunity, make sure that the master glassblower gives you opportunities to work on your projects under their supervision.
Here’s a general overview of the steps you’ll need to take to become a glassblower.
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- High school diploma or GED
There aren’t any specific degrees or certifications that are necessary to become a glassblower, but you will need extensive knowledge about safety procedures for working with molten glass.
Some community colleges, technical schools, and universities offer courses that can help you learn the basics. You can also go to an artist’s guild with experienced glassblowers who can teach you how to work with various types of glass.
Internship or Apprenticeship
While applying for coursework is always welcome, the best way to gain glassblowing experience is through an apprenticeship. Many guilds offer this program where you work directly under an experienced glassblower who can teach you the trade in real-time.
Apprenticeships typically last for a few years, and you can expect compensation for your work.
Testing or Certification
There are no official certification requirements to become a glassblower. However, there are optional tests that some glassblowers pursue, such as the A.S.G Certification (the American Scientific Glassblower Society).
It’s not necessary to become certified, but it can be helpful in circumstances where you’re traveling and getting work as a glassblower (and need proof of experience). Certification is an excellent way for glassblowers to gain recognition from their peers and grab the attention of potential clients.
Recommended Skills For Glassblowers
In addition to learning how to become a glassblower, it also helps to develop these essential skills:
Glassblowers often have long lines of orders, and they need to keep track of which items are finished and which ones aren’t.
The process of creating a glass piece can take hours or even days, depending on its size and the needs of the client. So, it’s important for glassblowers not to feel rushed during the creative process.
There are many ways to be a glassblower, and you can create any type of glass piece that you want. You can incorporate colors into your work or even sculpt them into shapes that weren’t originally possible.
Glassblowers need excellent hand-eye coordination to get a tight seal around their piece while it’s blowing out from the furnace. This allows them to add more hot glass to it without breaking it apart.
Pros & Cons Of Being A Glassblower
To help you determine if a career as a glassblower is right for you, here are some of the pros and cons associated with this role:
- While glassblowers often work long days, there are opportunities to make extra money by working during the evening or on weekends.
- Glassblowers can work anywhere in the world, and that often means traveling to different locations such as Europe and Asia.
- This is a very creative industry where there are opportunities for you to be self-employed or start a business.
- Glassblowers tend to have many companies who want their services, so they don’t lack job security.
- Glassblowing is a physically demanding profession, and it can result in pain and injury if you don’t take safety procedures seriously.
- Glassblowing can be an expensive investment when you lack the funds to pay for classes or apprenticeships.
- There are very few job openings in this industry, so you’ll need to work hard to be competitive and get chosen for jobs.
- Working on a team is not always feasible with certain projects, which means you may work by yourself most of the time.
How Much Do Glassblowers Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a glassblower is $49,120.
The type of employer you work for, and your skill level play a big role in what you can make. Most glassblowers who own their own company or work in well-paying fine art facilities tend to make more money than those who work for hourly wages.
Glassblower Job Outlook
The outlook for glassblowers is very strong, and the BLS predicts a 14% job growth between 2020 and 2030. With such a high demand for products made with blown or molded glass, this industry isn’t likely to go away any time soon.