WHAT POWERS THE CREATIVITY OF THIS FAMILY-RUN GLASS STUDIO?
For Gini, the founder of Garcia Art Glass, glassblowing began as passion project and quickly evolved into a successful family-run business in San Antonio. Today, her incredible work is powered by a blend of ancient techniques and modern innovations that are only possible with oil & natural gas products.
Glassblowing is one of many skills that humans have honed over the centuries, with the earliest example going as far back as 2,000+ years ago in ancient Rome and Syria.
The craft of blowing glass requires excellent creativity, intense focus, and stamina for perfect execution. Thanks to a variety of modern innovations, glass blowing studios can push the envelope further than ever. The high-heat torches that are used to shape glass are powered with electricity and natural gas. Plus, safety equipment makers use oil and natural gas products to create the heat-resistant gear that glassblowers need for dealing with temperatures over 2000°F.
While its origins may remain somewhat mysterious, glassblowing has since evolved quite dynamically. Thanks to new technologies, we now have a process that transforms art and technique into aesthetically appealing pieces, many of which you’ll find in everyday life. Examples of these include:
Wine bottles are made from glassblowing, but it would make for a pretty difficult task if we tried to create wine bottles manually. With molds and machines, glassblowing is a huge time saver in the commercial production of bottles. Molten glass is fed into a mold in an Individual Section machine, where compressed air shapes the bottle and neck.
THE LIGHT BULB
We all love colorful light bulbs. But Thomas Edison’s invention would be missing something if glassblowing wasn’t in the mix. In an incandescent bulb, the glass protects the filament. Then an electric current runs through the tungsten filament, generating heat and light. Near the bottom sits a plastic insulator. All of this innovation comes together on assembly lines today, a process that’s also fueled using oil and natural gas products.
Our favorite glass windows evolved from Venice, Italy. During the Middle Ages, glass was considered so invaluable a possession it was traded for gold and was even the cause of bribery and torture. In Italy, glass-smiths found that by blowing a cylinder of glass, cutting the ends, and laying it flat in a furnace, they could create flat sheets of glass—windows! This discovery ended the centuries-long tradition of covering holes of buildings with animal skins and thick cloths. People could now let in air while effectively barricading their homes from harsher elements like rain, cold, and snow. Similarly, stained-glass windows sprang from this and were used to illumine mankind’s spiritual stories in French cathedrals.
GLASSES, TELESCOPES, AND MICROSCOPES
From the 17th century onward, artisans became aware they could get more out of glass beyond vases, jars, windows, jewelry, and other similar applications
From glasses to telescopes and microscopes, the floodgate of innovation opened once people discovered the magnifying ability of glass. If we hadn’t created glass, our understanding of the world and universe would be limited. Who would have thought it possible to reach the moon in the first place?
Benjamin Franklin, too, also took to glass in the creation of his famous bifocals. (Hello, modern glasses!)
Just imagine how our world would look like today if we hadn’t put glass to maximum use. We have used it to explore the stars and study the finer details of tiny objects on glass slides. And we have explored artistic glass that sparks joy in our homes.
But that’s not all. Laboratory scientists would reckon the invaluable assistance of glass beakers, tubes, and other glassware as they delve deep into the exploratory fields of organic chemistry and medicine.
Thus in the 20th century and beyond, the artistic craft of glassblowing has become both practically and scientifically relevant. There are now glass schools across the world, and some even have a patron saint. The renowned Dale Chihuly is regarded as one of the world’s finest artists in glass, making glassblowing a purely sculptural and artistic craft.
To this day, artisans and creators the world over still blow and turn glass using a blend of techniques that are now powered by oil and natural gas products. Our featured series with Garcia Art Glass highlights one such family of creative entrepreneurs in San Antonio, where the artistry of glassblowing is alive and thriving.
Glassblowing techniques have signified craftsmanship and innovation for centuries, and that tradition continues today.