Photo Gallery: Glassblowing in Medina, Ohio

Mike Grau gathers red-hot molten glass from the furnace as he starts another piece. The temperature inside the furnace is maintained above 2,000 degrees. Using a searing hot rod, Grau collects glass much the same way one would collect honey. The consistency is very similar. Once Grau has the glass he needs, he will start the blowing process and work toward constructing an ornament.
To provide color, glass artists roll the red-hot glass in colored grains of silica. The tabletop on which Grau is rolling the glass is called a “marver.” As the artist continues constructing the piece, the colors melt into the molten blob of glass and become fully incorporated into the art.
Mike Grau is rolling the molten glass and its strains of color on the “marver.” This action provides shape and rich swirls of color. As the glass is rolled, it subsequently cools down and must be thrust back into the “glory hole,” pictured just behind Grau himself.
Grau uses a variety of tools to properly shape his glass art pieces. Here, he can spin the glass and employ centrifugal force to maintain its rounded shape. Keeping the process moving is a key aspect to glassblowing, as the glass is constantly cooling down and hardening. Motion, as well as continually inserting the glass into the furnace, is a relentless necessity.
With dexterity, Grau spins a heart-shaped paperweight into existence. It’s an elegant design that Grau and his customers truly enjoy. The color comes from grains of silica that have been melted into the glass art piece. As one can see here, they’ve become fully incorporated into the paperweight and they add a vibrant element of color and motion.
As Grau finishes another ornament, he constructs a loop at the top of it, for hanging purposes. To do this, he pulls the rod upward, creating an excess strand of glass atop the art piece. That excess feature is then looped back down to create a small hole from which the ornament will be hung. As one can see, Grau is snipping the glass from its connection with the blowpipe.
A colorful array of ornaments hangs from the ceiling of Mike Grau’s glass studio. They’re all for sale and they represent a large portion of the work Grau does during the run-up to Christmas. Infused with nearly every color imaginable, these ornaments show off Grau’s talents of form and finesse.

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