My VASELINE Glass Blowing Experience

Dave Peterson (editor and webmaster for VGCI) recently traveled by car from Oklahoma City to the Seattle area for his mother's 75th birthday party.  As it so happened, He was able to plan his trip to go past Jack Loranger's house, who does a lot of glass blowing with vaseline glass.  He was able to tour Jack's shop and  also had the opportunity to blow a piece of VASELINE glass with Jack's careful instructions and assistance (kids, don't try this at home!).  This webpage corresponds to a similar article that Dave wrote for the GLOWING REPORT, Sept. 2005 issue.  Dave is the one wearing the VGCI T-Shirt.  Jack is the shorter fella who has hair!

All small photos can be clicked on to view a full size photo.

Getting a gather of metal (molten glass) from the furnace.
Here is what it looks like up close.  That is about 2100 degrees F.!
Always turning the blow-pipe, I go to the marver.  Jack uses an electric griddle, turned to 400 degrees.  This is for the initial shaping.

Rolling it on the hot griddle.  If it was not vaseline, it could be done on a cold marver, but with vaseline, it will turn opalescent if not kept hot.  That meant a trip to the glory hole about every 30 seconds to warm it.  Not EVERY trip is shown in these photos, but it was done regularly.

The next step is using a wet block at the bench.  This allows the blower to shape the piece and draw it out further on the pipe.

Back to the glory hole.  The furnace is anywhere from 2100 degrees to 2600 degrees F., depending on where the glass is placed.  The pipe must be continually turned, or the glass will sag.  If it is turned too fast, it will also sag.  If it is in too far in the furnace, it will heat up too much and sag faster.  If it is not in far enough, it won't heat up enough.  (tricky business, that glory hole!!)

Back to the bench for more shaping.
Trying to draw it out some more from the pipe.
Back into the glory hole to heat it up again.
More shaping.  Just about ready for blowing, but first.....back to the glory hole for more heat!
At this point, I have been working with the molten glass about 6 minutes.  The blowing process for the beginning bubble is to place the pipe in your mouth and blow just a little air.  My thumb also had to be in my mouth.  As soon as the air was in the pipe, my thumb closed over the end of the pipe.  The air pressure from blowing heats up as it gets near the hot end and expands by itself.  I also have to remember to keep turning the pipe while my thumb is holding in the air pressure, or I have to start over.  Jack is watching to see if a bubble starts to appear.  (Oh, I also got a pair of safety glasses on just before this step - should have had them on since the beginning).

Jack confirms that there is a bubble in the middle of that molten glob of vaseline glass!!!
Here is a close-up view of the molten glass.  Looks sort of like one of those lightbulbs to keep bugs away!  This is actually after a second blow on the pipe.  The first (internal) bubble is about the size of a grape.  After the second bubble, it gets big enough to work with.

Back to the glory hole......more heat.....more heat!  Jack is making sure I am keeping it on center as much as possible.

This process starts to score a line that will divide the piece from the pipe.  It will stay attached, but pinches it off from the pipe.

This is when the piece is swung.  The centrifugal force makes the piece longer. 
After the swinging, it was back to the glory hole.  Once back at the bench, the initial shaping of the cup is done.  This starts to turn the rounded sides into a flattened surface.  Jack is keeping pressure on the piece so it does not get flat in any one area. 

While I am shaping the sides, Jack starts to flatten the bottom.  Notice in the second photo the fire coming off the piece from being in contact with the wooden paddle.  Remember, the piece is also having to be constantly rotated at the bench.

I am using a cleaver here but it is not to cut off the glass.  I am scoring a line and it is also cooling the glass at the point of contact.  The heat is escaping from the glass to the metal and the coolness of the metal is transferring to the glass. I am still rotating the piece during this process.

Jack gets the pontil rod ready.  He got a small gather of hot glass and is rolling it to a point on the marver.
Jack takes the pontil rod and attaches it to the center of the piece I have been working.
The connection had been weakened where I was using the cleaver, and Jack makes a successful snap.
We inspect the pontil connection and the opening at the top, prior to returning it to the glory hole for more heating.
Jack is now starting to open the top of the cup as I rotate the piece at the chair.
Checking the progress of making the opening for the top.  Then, it is back to the glory hole to heat it up again.
I try my hand at continuing to spread the top into a larger opening.  It has to go at it's own speed, all the while rotating to keep it even.

It was getting a bit tricky, so I asked Jack to expand it further.  It takes a delicate and experienced touch. 
At this point, we are so close to it being done, that I ask Jack to finish.  Jack continues to widen the top opening.
Jack has dipped his spatula in water and is letting it drip right at the connection.  That cools it so it can be removed.
A little tap, and it falls onto the rock insulation.  Soft Landing!!  Jack then picked it up with insulated gloves and put it in the lehr to cool.

The team of Peterson and Loranger after completion of a successful project!
Jack shipped the cup to me.  It is signed PETERSON/LORANGER 2005.  Jack refers to this as a "Flintstone" cup.

Jack Loranger also has a website and has glass for sale in a multitude of colors, including vaseline glass.
CLICK HERE to visit his website!

Photos courtesy of VGCI member Barry Vreyens, who came up to see Jack while I was there.  Thanks, Barry! 
There are also 4 shots captured from a video that Vickie Peterson shot.