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How an NYC Glassblower Makes Cups, Bowls, and Vases

Elizabeth Lyons makes gorgeous cups, vases, and bowls out of molten glass at her studio

“I think it’s sort of like a muscle. You do something enough times, it might even just be the way it feels,” says Elizabeth Lyons of the hypnotic rolling, pulling, blowing, shaping, and heating of glass at her shop, More Fire Glass Studio in upstate New York. “It’s kinesthetic as much as visual.”

Lyons explains that glassblowing is an ancient art, and its technique and tools haven’t been changed much since it originated. First, soda lime sand and recycled glass is heated at the end of a pipe in her furnace, lovingly named “Fernita.” Next, air is blown into the other end of the pipe, creating a bubble. It’s rolled and rounded, reheated, blown again, until the basic shape is created. The bottom is then flattened in a mold, and a new pipe is attached to the end so the top can be worked on. Once it’s all set, it’s placed in the final furnace, called an annealer, to cool.

“We’re starting to really appreciate things that are handmade,” says Lyons. “There’s a story about the making, there’s a story about the idea that went into it, there’s experience. The things that people make are forever.”

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