The Glassmaker
by Ayesha and Rebecca

Have you ever wondered how glass was made and how it was used during colonial times? Do you know what tools were used to make glass items? If you have wondered about these things you came to the right place.

Some of the earliest Colonial tradesmen were glassblowers. They used the miles and miles of free sand on the Virginia shores to make glass. They made bottles, window panes, and beads.

Some tools they used were:

  • Battledore - a flat wooden paddle used to shape molten glass objects
  • Blowpipe - a long, hollow, rod that shaped glass objects
  • Caliper - used to measure the size of a molten glass object
  • Crucible - a fire-resistant clay pot in which glassmaking objects were melted
  • Lehr - a special oven used to strengthen the glassware
  • Pincers - pliers used to stretch and squeeze glass
  • Pontil - a long metal rod connected to a molten glass object to help hold it
  • Pucellas - tongs used to twist and stretch a molten glass object
  • Shears - scissors for cutting and trimming a molten glass object

There were two main kinds of glass; flint glass and soda lime glass. Flint glass was made of calcined flint, soda, and lead or lead oxide. Flint glass was clear and expensive to make. Soda lime glass was made out of silica, soda from sodium oxide, and lime from limestone. Soda-lime glass was dark in color and inexpensive to make. Both types of glass were made the same way. The mixture of ingredients was heated in a crucible in the furnace. The molten mixture was either blown into the desired shape or it was blown into a mold to make the desired shape. It was hard work.

To be a glassblower you had to be strong, understand the ingredients used to make glass, and have good lungs to blow the glass.


Click on a trade below to read more about it.

Source: Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Glassmakers. New York: Benchmark, 1997.

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