PATCHWORK NATION -- December 11, 2009 at 3:15 PM ET
Ray Suarez Tests His Hand at Glassblowing in Lincoln City, Ore.
When the PBS NewsHour crew was in Lincoln City, Ore., as part of the Patchwork Nation project, senior correspondent Ray Suarez tested his hand at glassblowing. Watch and read more about his experience:
I had a very good craftswoman talking me through the process, as I had never done anything even remotely like this.
The glass that ends up as a colorful float sits in a molten puddle at the bottom of a furnace kept at 2,500 degrees. The aspiring glassblower shoves a steel rod into the glass, gets a blob on the end of the rod, and heads over to a smooth table to gather colors and begin the process of shaping the blob into a ball.
Another furnace then melts the bits of colored glass onto the surface. You have to keep spinning the rod ... or else the glass will simply fall off the end and into the furance. Think of it as staying ahead of melting ice cream on a hot day, just 2,500 degrees different. Everything starts to liquify and drop to one side, so you've got to quickly swirl molten glass to keep it from falling off. It's fun.
Then it's time to blow air into the core of the glass ball. When your breath hits the still molten hot center of the glass it expands in shape and starts to inflate the float. Blow too hard, and you'll wreck it.
It was an interesting thing to try. The lovely result is in my house.