There’s a mood to the process of blowing glass that feels right in line with the season. [The music in this video certainly adds to that.] The process of carefully bathing a tube of glass in fire and blowing it into that perfect ornamental shape has a quiet solemnity that will make you cringe next time you watch the burglars in Home Alone stomp all over these fragile objects.
I only wish this video was in real time to fully capture the meditative steps. But we do get an interesting look at the handmade mould blowing method. Eric Goldschmidt, a gaffer at the Corning Museum of Glass demonstrates the initial torching of the glass and gently breathes life into the glass tube while it rests inside an ornament mould from Lauscha, one of the oldest glassworks in the world. The company will only say that the mould is made of “secret clay” but Goldschmidt writes on YouTube that he believes it’s a “plaster, silica, clay mix”.
Once the shape is set, silver nitrate, ammonium nitrate, sodium hydroxide and dextrose are combined to create a chemical reaction that gives the mirrored finish. And it’s all finally topped off with glitter and glue just like in kindergarten class.
Now you can either appreciate those handcrafted ornaments on your tree or feel immense shame at the factory manufactured novelty baubles that required no care and no secret clay.