About Chem 316 - Glassblowing

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About the Glassblowing Class

The intent of Chem 316 - Glassblowing is to teach four basic glassblowing operations:

  • The Straight Seal: Sealing one glass tube to another of the same diameter
  • The Uneven Seal: Sealing one glass tube to another of a different diameter
  • The "T" seal: Sealing one glass to another at right angles
  • The Bend: Taking a glass tube and bending it at right angles.

This may not sound like much, but it will occupy much of the 10 weeks of class time. In addition, you will be constructing simple apparatus that utilizes two or more of these operations.

Glassblowing can be "conceptually" compared to playing piano. That is, it is not likely for anyone to learn to play piano in 10 weeks to a level for any type of concert. So, after 10 weeks it is also not likely that anyone will learn how to be a glassblower ready to tackle all jobs. That notwithstanding, one can do a reasonable amount of glass operations after learning the basic operations from this class.

Probably, more significant, one will learn a variety of general lab operations including compressed gas use, glass (type) selection, glass physics and chemistry, 3 weeks of vacuum technology and operations, and a variety of other operations that will strongly assist your general laboratory knowledge and capabilities. At a minimum, after this class you are much less likely to do damage in the laboratory and are more likely to do chemistry.

Knowing that not everyone is a natural glassblower (pianist, singer, cook, whatever...) the class grade is not based solely on one's ability to manipulate glass. There are also a series of quizzes based on the week's lecture. The grade is based on both the practical (the glass operations) and the academic (the quizzes and final).