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Ball Ornaments - How To Make Your Own Christmas Ball Ornaments
Glass blowing has been around for thousands of years, while Christmas ornaments only a few hundred. But as anyone who has seen a hand-blown Christmas ornament can tell you, the marriage of traditional glass blowing and Christmas tree decoration is a match made in heaven. Many people are so inspired, they wish to take up glass blowing as a way of creating their own ball ornaments. Getting started, however, takes a little bit of work, but the results are well worth it.
So how are glass ball ornaments made? Well, there are many different ways to mold glass, but the most popular for Christmas ball ornaments is using a blow pipe. A piece of glass (called a cullet) is placed on the end of a warm blow pipe. This is put in a fiery hot furnace known as the fire bucket--which is almost 1,000F--until it begins to melt. Once the corners of the cullet soften, the blowpipe is taken out, and the cullet is rolled on a piece of marble until it is molded into an orb shape. Then the glass blob is returned to the fire bucket.
Once the cullet gets orange, the glass worker takes the blowpipe out of the heat and rolls the red-hot cullet in pieces of colored glass--either broken pieces or rods. Then, the cullet returns to the fire pit, where the glass blower slowly begins to blow it up into an orb. Once the ball ornament is as big as it can get, the artist removes the ornament from the fire, and breaks the ornament off the blow pipe using a pair of cool pliers known as jacks.
The resulting glass bulb ornaments look as beautiful as planets from a distant galaxy. Depending on what glass you use, and how you twist and manipulate the glass while it's hot, you can create any number of beautiful, stunning works of art for your Christmas tree.
So How can you make your own Christmas ball ornaments? Well, unfortunately, you can't go out and buy a furnace and a blowpipe and be on your way. Glass blowing requires a huge amount of heat, and glass artisans work with potentially lethal fumes, strong heat, and dangerous kilns all day. That's why in order to create your own Christmas ball ornaments, you'll need to attend a few classes to learn some of the ancient techniques involved.
You can find glass blowing classes in one of three ways:
1. Yellow Pages
Looking up local art schools, glass studios, and universities is a great way to see if there are any glass blowing studios in your area. Haystack, Penland, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center are just a few of the schools that offer summer glass blowing classes. Around Christmas, especially, studios may offer special classes for individuals interested in glass ball ornaments.
2. The Internet
While a basic search engine search might help you find a local glass blowing studio, you can also try specific glass resources to learn what is in your area. Try looking at Urban Glass, or visiting the web pages of popular Glass publications like Glass Focus or Glass Quarterly to see what is available.
3. Glass Making Societies
If you have a desire to create your own glass ball ornaments, the surest way to have access--and guidance--is by finding other individuals who share a passion for glass blowing. Organizations like Glass Art Society, Glass Collectors' Group, and the Renwick Alliance will have folks who have the tools and the education you need to make your visions a reality.