The History of Blown Glassware in Mexico

Glass Craftsmanglass Blower w Pipe
Glass Blowing Craftsmen at work
Mexico has long been known as a land of the master craftsman.  If the master craftsman is considered an artist, then glass is a wonderful canvas.  Glass blowing has long been a cherished form of art by Mexican artisans.  The very first glass pieces produced in North America, were created in Puebla Mexico around 1535 by artisans brought from Spain.
The raw materials that go into the manufacturing of clear glass from scratch are:
SiO2 – Silica Sand.
Na2O – Sodium Oxide from Soda Ash.
CaO – Calcium oxide from Limestone / Dolomite.
MgO – Dolomite.
Al2O3 – Feldspar.
The raw ingredients are mixed to make a batch, which is poured into the furnace, which is heated up to 1500 degree Celsius.  When the batch is hot enough and molten, it is ready to work.

The tools remain simplistic even today as the artisan starts out with some molten glass and a long hollow pipe.  The skill of the artisan is really in creating the glass items in many, shapes and sizes.  The trade flourished in Mexico, based on the simplicity of the raw materials and the ingenuity of the artisans, to inspire and push the boundaries of their work.
Currently, Mexican glassware is crafted from Lead-Free, Recycled Glass.  It is crushed and then shoveled into the furnace.  When molten, the glass is worked.

Glass blowers use a technique that is over 500 years old, which involves placing a metal conduit up to their mouth and blowing it through a blob of molten glass, which has been heated up by a classic hearth especially made for glass blowers. As the glass maker blows, he starts to model the glass blob by constantly turning it around with the conduit until it takes shape, however he may have to start all over if he blows too hard, as the glass is malleable and will break. They occasionally use a form for the width and the peak of the glass, to make the glass texture more consistent. 

This procedure also makes them very sensitive to abrupt temperature changes so some additional care is needed: Extreme temperature changes can cause the bubbles to grow which could cause a cracked glass. A brief cooling off period is necessary, after the removal of the glass from any extreme temperatures.

Today Mexico is very well known for hand blown drinking glasses, the most popular of them characterized by a blue band blown into the rim. All glasses are 100% Lead Free. Watching the artisans at their craft is mesmerizing, the technique is truly fascinating.

Wandering Gypsy is a great place to explore artisan-crafted glassware. You can find some incredible glass blown pieces such as: