October 1, 2009
By Blaise Campbell
Having the rod you gather on the right temperature.
For some things you want the rod to be hot, sometimes medium, sometimes cold. You have to be aware of how the temperature affects what you do. If, for example, you are making a small, delicate and thin cup you will need to make the punty with a very small gather of glass on a small rod. A common mistake is to gather on a punty rod that is not hot enough. For a small punty you need a very small amount of glass, and if the rod is cold it will take a lot of the heat away from the inside of the gather, and then if you go to the marver to shape the punty you take the heat away from the outside of the gather so that tiny mass of glass freezes very quickly. You end up not having enough time to shape the punty, and get a good shape, because you lose the heat so quickly. As a result you end up spending more time at the glory hole trying to get the punty hot. When you are learning how to make punties you generally spend a little more time shaping so it is a good idea when working with smaller bits of glass to have the rod a little hotter. On a bigger punty where there is more mass, if you gather too hot you run into the problem of having to wait for the glass to cool down on the inside. It can also result in a lot of movement in the punty when you attach it to the bottom of a piece, which is not always desirable. The whole issue here is having the temperature right, what I refer to as skin heat and core heat. These are two different things, where the outside temperature is hotter then the inside or the inside hotter then the outside.
It seems there are as many different types of punties as there are glassblowers. And there are as many opinions on what is the best. I’m not here to tell what is best but to state that if what you do works for you then that’s great, but it is important to understand why it works and also that there is really no good excuse (other than lack of experience) for losing work to poor punties. Sure we all lose pieces from time to time for lack of focus or bad mojo, but if you are losing pieces time and again with no cure in sight, you need to develop some awareness. There are fundamental forces at play that you control and you need to be aware of the “cause and effect” of your relationship to them. Keep in mind that every situation is different and variables are constantly changing. This is perhaps the frustration and the allure of hot glass. It’s all very decipherable and predictable if you take the time to question and to look. Once you can begin to apply this understanding you can become more confident in what you do. You can relax and slow down when things heat up. The best glassworkers keep calm because they are in control of the situation and can predict what the glass will do because they know. This basic state is the key to realizing your potential. Next time we will look at two or three very different punty situations and break them down for you.