When I first started exploring glass work, I took a glass blowing class for beginners. I learned that using the heavy tools and dealing with lava hot ovens was too intense for me. That was a bit intimidating, but thankfully I found one another glass medium was just right for me. The oldest form of glass blowing is called lampworking or torch work. This is the method I focus on and love!
The torch I use works by combining oxygen and propane to get up to a steamy 1,500 degrees in order to heat the special glass that I use to make our straws. To prepare the super-durable Borosilicate glass (same commercially strong glass used in Pyrex), I have to cut the long tube to the length needed. I use a cutter to score the length I’ll need and then by hand snap off that portion of the tube.
Next, I heat up each end in the flame to take away any sharp edge that exists after cutting it so that it is safe to put your mouth on. If the straw is plain, it stops there. If it’s a bent style, I heat the straw up where the bend will be located and use gravity and a steel rod to push it to the correct angle. I do all of that by hand and each straw is almost identically bent as the next (because I’ve made thousands of these).
If the straw is to be decorated, I then heat up unique rods of colored borosilicate glass and melt them onto the surface of the straw. The design itself can be a combination of one or more colors, so this is where I enjoy the variety and creative side of making straws. The decorative straw then goes immediately into a special oven and stays in there at 1,050 degrees for about 30 minutes before slowly cooling down for another 30 minutes. This process, called annealing, basically joins all the glass together so it is safe to use as glassware. (If we left this 1,500-degree straw out at room temperature, it would cool down too quickly and crack the decoration right off the tube of the straw.)
Watch our video below to get a better visual of how we manufacture our straws.
Win a $15 Gift Certificate
I trust you found that interesting, but I want you to experience using a glass straw! Comment on this post and let us know what your favorite Designer Straw is that we’ve made (past or present). We’ll choose one (1) winner of a $15 Strawesome gift certificate on October 18, 2016. One comment per person, please.