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Glass Blowing for Vacuum Devices


I had wanted to learn glass blowing for many years, but I could not find any local courses. Nobody I knew seemed to know much about it. I also had some difficulty finding suitable books on the subject. There are many books about ornamental glass work and stained glass windows, but not many about scientific glass blowing. When it comes to making glass to metal seals, the information is even harder to find. The problem seems to be that very little glass scientific apparatus is made by hand anymore. I have found one very good source of information about Scientific Glass Blowing by East Carolina University. This gives lots of very useful information about glass working tools and terminology.

Eventually I came across two very good books. The first one is 'Glass Working by Heat and by Abrasion' by Paul N Hasluck (1903). It was reprinted in 1989 and is available from Lindsay Publications Ltd. The second book is 'The Methods of Glass Blowing' by W A Shenstone (1918). This is an original and was quite a lucky find.

I am no expert and most of my methods are probably bad practice. Despite that, within six weeks of buying the first book I had made some glow tubes and filament lamps. The glow tube pictured above was sealed off on the 24th of December 2003, only one month after buying the first book. The most encouraging thing is that it still worked when I wrote this page on the 15th of January 2004. My aim in this part of the web site is to document the approach I took and the methods I developed. I decided to start writing this section while I was still learning so that I could record the difficulties that I encountered and how I overcame them. I hope that this section will be of general interest and add something a little more unusual to the site.

The ability to work glass opens up many new areas of experimentation which would otherwise not be practical. Glass blowing is relatively cheap, not as difficult as I thought it would be and can be very rewarding. It can also be very frustrating.

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