Photographing Glass Blowing

Sunday was one of those serendipitous days when I had the wonderful opportunity to see a master at work.  Robert Gary Parkes gave an exclusive glass blowing demonstration to members of my camera club.  He was articulate in explaining a little of the history of glass blowing, talked about various kinds of glass, and showed us how he combined glass to create stunning colours.

We were all happily snapping away trying to catch his every move. I experimented with a variety of aperture and shutter settings and used a tripod to help capture some of the action.  If you’ve ever seen glass blowing you will know how fast the artisan has to work to keep the molten glass from hardening too quickly.

Here’s an image I took while Robert was swinging the rod with hot glass back and forth in an almost dance-like rhythm.

With twirling and whirling and crimping and shaping, Robert created an exquisite glass bowl.  I captured this image while he was in motion and just before he was ready to cut it off the rod.

If you live near Vancouver,  it’s an easy drive to Robert’s studio in Surrey, BC. He’s more than happy to give demonstrations for groups and has a beautiful collection of glass pieces for sale in the gallery.  His website is http:/  Don’t forget your camera!

Here’s a tiny portion of a vase on display in the gallery.

© all images copyright Marion McCristall

You may also enjoy my images on my photography website

143 thoughts on “Photographing Glass Blowing

    • Every time I pick up a piece of blown glass I take a moment to admire the amount of effort and the creative process that went into making it. Thanks for your comment Mikalee.

  1. Ciao! Beautiful pictures!
    I saw blowin glass in Murano, in Italy! It’s a really “magic” thing to watch!

    • Thanks for your comment Laura. I bought some little blown glass candies when I was in Chuisi, Tuscany a couple of years ago. How wonderful that you were able to see someone blowing glass in Italy.

  2. I’ve also been fascinated with glass blowing and have always wanted to learn how to do it. These photos are gorgeous!

  3. I have always found glass blowing fascinating. Then again I also find sword smiting fascinating. I guess I just love unique crafting skills. Beautiful work by the creator and thanks to the writer for the information.

  4. I was blessed about thirty years ago in dating an Oklahoma gal from Ponca City. Her Father was a glass blower out of Ponca City, of a very high level, who made tubes and glassware for labs. She spoke of his work and his love of it, many times. I was blessed in being able to see some of his extra art work in this media which she had, which was very beautiful. Thank you for sharing this blog. It brought back great memories.

  5. My daughter did a glass art course for 2 years. I spent hours whenever I could watching the students. She has moved on to photography and I know what a fantastic job you did to catch these images!

  6. Great photos! A ceramics artist I photographed also passed along the names of a glassblower and a coppersmith here in Los Angeles to shoot. Shooting artisans at work is really rewarding and inspirational!

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  8. Now I wish I had gone with you guys. What a beautiful documentation you have presented. Each shown in real time how a master of his craft creates such beauty! And with each of your images you’ve made some beautiful artwork yourself. Well done … just gorgeous.
    I love the motion you’ve captured in the third shot of him dancing with the piece. I’m sure we’ll see some interesting stuff at the next competition. Thanks for sharing!! I’ll have to visit his shop one day for sure.
    Congratulations on getting onto Fresh Pressed! Awesome!

  9. have been fascinated with glass and glass blowing since i saw reese witherspoon’s movie sweet home alabama from waaay back 🙂 been searching for great photos that will somehow bring me back to the feeling of awe i had when i saw it on film and i have to say that yours are the only ones that did the magic for me. thank you for such lovely photos! i can only wish i get to have the same privilege that you do witnessing glass blowing in action

  10. Amazing how you were able to capture the motion. I really enjoy watching glass blowers at work – They make it look so easy, yet it’s definitely an art which requires physical strength.

  11. Amazing! Beautiful pictures! I worked in a stained glass studio for a while, although never had the privilege to see glass being blown. I would definitely like to one day.

  12. Made sure my wife, who is a secondary school art teacher, had a link to this post for her students. The “glasssmoke” image and “glassblowing” shot are very dramatic well executed compositions. Well done ! Thanks for posting.

  13. Nice! I got the opportunity to visit a glass blowing studio in Quebec, the blast of heat from those furnaces is enough to knock you over. Great pics!

  14. Awesome! Having done a 2year glass blowing/kiln glass course, and during that time trying to capture some of the work, I know how hard it can be to keep up with the artists. You’ve done a brillliant job, I love the photos! Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Excellent photos – my wife used to be the General Manager at Bristol Blue Glass in the UK and we never tired of watching master craftsmen and women at their task. When they worked in pairs or teams of three it was like a dance with firs. Very elemental. Thanks for posting and good luck to the photography club. Jim

  16. I enjoyed looking through the photographs of the man’s craftsmanship and the captions were nice & sort of like to the point. Thank you for sharing!

  17. I love the very first picture with the whisps of smoke and that stunning golden amber colour! What an interesting thing to photograph and to listen about the history too!

  18. Truly beautiful photos. Love the use of motion contrasted with the crystal clear focus (pun intended). Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  19. Fantastic photos! When I lived in Victoria, there was a glass-blowing studio, and I used to spend a great deal of time standing on the balcony, watching the artists do their work. It was wonderful.

    Terrific post!

  20. I’ve seen glass blowing a few times, and I was fascinated every time. Incredible how these artists can form beautiful objects from the hot glass. You’ve got great photos of the action!

  21. They have glass blowers near where I live here in South Jersey. I’ve watched them do this before and it’s very hot just watching, I don’t know how they do it all day long! Beautiful pictures and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  22. You’re photographs are beautiful. My grandfather started the glass blowing department at SIUC, the university I know attend, and since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s he has not been able to create art anymore. Seeing these photographs reminds me of how amazing my grandfather really is. Thank you.

  23. Some years ago I had the opportunity to visit quite a few glass blowing factories, it is an amazing and fascinating process and you have caught it beautifully here with your pictures. Fabulous to see and has brought back great memories! My favourite is the first image which is quite stunning.

  24. Those (skills in both glass-blowing and photography) are gorgeous! Any advice on best capturing steam? Many thanks.

  25. Amazing photographs. We had the opportunity to watch some glass blowers create some beautiful pieces. They did not allow, however, photographs. Yours have brought back that memory 🙂

  26. I really enjoyed your photos and blog! I would love to learn how, but my husband would kill me if I picked up another expensive hobby:) I love the idea of a camera club. How does that work?

  27. I saw some of Dale Chihuly’s work a while back. Incredible! Thanks for taking us with your camera into the production line of these fantastic pieces.

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  30. I love glass as a medium and I love glass blowing! Went to Murano and watched for hours how they make their vases. Now if I could only make a career shift to glass blowing, that would be perfect. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  31. wow, these pictures are really good!
    Glass blowing is so amazing! i could stare at these pictures forever!

  32. I understand this text a little (but I´m from Czech Republic and I can germeny more), but this photos are interisting. I like hissing molten metal (if this is wrong, the compiler for it on google and I, that I use his) … I wonted write you just, have a nice day 🙂 Ester

  33. – Great blog post and nice photos!
    What a great opportunity to take photos in a glass factory – such a beautiful subject to cover! I was in Venice this past summer and visited Murano Island for the first time and visited a few glass studios – simply amazing!

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