It should come as no surprise to anyone who has traveled to Mexico that the country is home to many artists and craftsmen. In most cities, you can find shops and streets lined with vendors selling artisan made goods. One of the most iconic artisan goods is hand-blown glassware. The glass blowers produce a large variety of beautiful glassware including:
- Margarita Glasses
- Drinking Glasses
- Shot Glasses
- Wine Glasses
- Flower Vases
- Candle Holders
- Decorative Balls
The art of creating hand blown glassware is a tradition that continues to be passed from one generation to the next in Mexico. Around the year 1535, artisans from Spain created the first pieces of glassware in North America when they formed tumblers from molten glass on the end of a long hollow pipe. Puebla, Mexico was the location that these hand blown pieces of glass were first formed. Since then, the art of glass blowing has spread as has the appreciation for fine Mexican hand blown glassware around the world.
How Is Hand Blown Glass Made?
Seeing the artisans working at their craft is truly incredible. Beyond their artistic ability to shape and mold molten glass into a desired shape, the artisans work in an exceedingly hot environment due to all of the hot ovens surrounding them. Due to the extreme temperatures, the artisans have to stay well hydrated throughout the day to avoid headaches and heat exhaustion.
The process of creating a piece of hand blown glass starts when recycled glass is melted down to molten glass. From there, the artisan takes some of this molten glass on the end of a long hollow pipe. The artisan is able to blow air into the hollow pipe and begin to shape the molten glass by continuously turning the pipe and using tools to touch and maneuver the glass into the desired shape. The glass is delicate on the end of the pipe and blowing too much air into it can cause the glass to break which would then require the artisan to begin the process from the beginning. It is common for artisans to use a mold that helps form the height and width of the glass pieces so that the sizes are semi-consistent. That being said, the pieces are hand made and will vary slightly in size due to the nature of how they are created. These slight differences are unique and give each piece of hand blown glass their own character.
When the glass begins to cool and is sized and shaped correctly, the artisan will then add color to the glass. The possibilities are endless as there are so many different colors and styles to choose from. Sometimes the rim of the glass is the only portion where color is added. Other times, the entire glass is one solid color. Glasses can even have a mix of different fun and festive colors. No matter the color, when the process is complete and the glass is ready, you will notice that each piece of glass may have tiny bubbles inside that are formed during the glassblowing process. This again adds uniqueness to each individual piece.
The recommended care instructions for Mexican hand blown glassware is to make sure the glasses do not experience any extreme or abrupt change in temperature as this can increase the likelihood of a cracked glass. Why? Because the air bubbles inside each glass can grow when exposed to extreme or abrupt changes in temperature.