Glass Bottle from Scratch | How To Make Everything: Bottle (4/4)


Glass is made from silica; the major component of sand. When it is heated, it melts into a fluid. Even after cooling, it manages to maintain many fluid characteristics, such as transparency, as it turns into an amorphous solid. Glass can be found naturally in the form of obsidian, formed by quickly cooled lava from volcanoes, and it was frequently used as a sharp blade in the neolithic age. Actual glass making was invented around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia, and the first glass container was made around 1500 BC. Improvements in glass making technologies in the 17th century eventually resulted in the glass bottle becoming the preferred storage medium for wine and other fluids. But to first make my glass I’ll need to get some sand. I’m here at the Bank of the Mississippi, collecting some of the sand. This is the same sand that they use down at the Ford plant to make windshields. Next I’m just going to collect some, I’m going to head over and melt it down into glass. After collecting my sand I took it to the Minnesota center of glass arts, where Michael showed me the process of melting down the river sand. Using a makeshift furnace, he had me add the sand in controlled amounts. Then heat it up to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, until it began to melt. Then using a rod, I collected some of the newly-formed glass, revealing a unique blue tint from the impurities in it. He even demonstrated how to turn it into a bottle. However, the impurities in the sand make it really difficult to blow, so to make my bottle, they had me use some of their already prepared sand. First I loaded up the furnace with sand, which melts it down to molten glass at 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Worker: You want to aim that right for the middle. Well done. Get a big scoop. Next, Nicole walked me through the process of blowing my own glass bottle. Girl Worker: All right. Nice. So never put your hand above the glass, because you’ll get a steam burn. So you’re always shaping it from the bottom, but because you’re rotating it, you’re shaping the whole thing. Okay, that’s pretty nice. Why don’t you get some heat, and then we’ll blow it a little. I found the most challenging part of glassblowing was the multitasking. If I ever forgot to keep the rod spinning, it all started to fall off and I’d ruin it. Girl Worker: Swing! Swing! With vigor! Don’t hit your friends, but swing with vigor. Okay. Girl Worker: So when you make a bottle, you pull that neck shape when it’s being blown, which also means that it makes it difficult to get a good jack line for it to break off. Girl Worker: It’s probably plenty good. Okay. Okay. Stop moving. I’m gonna grab you. Girl Worker: So try not to hit the cupboard behind you when you lift this up, okay? Ready? Okay. Flip, flip, flip. Okay. Carry it over there. Girl Worker: Alright. On. On. Now. On. It’s good. Off. Girl Worker: Well, it’s about as bottly as a bottle gets. If it’s handmade. Andy: With the glass completed now, it needs to be left in the kiln to slowly cool over the next few days. Otherwise, it’ll explode.

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