Handmade & Mouth Blown
Almost all LSA International glassware is handmade. This means that each product is individually mouthblown and hand-finished by skilled artisans. The techniques used to make glass by hand have not essentially changed for 2000 years.
With the exception of our recycled glassware range, Mia, all LSA handmade glass is produced from soda-lime glass.
The ingredients are made up primarily of sand, soda ash and lime. Creating the 'recipe' and mixing the ingredients scientifically in the correct proportions is a skilled task and ensures that the texture, consistency, colour and clarity of the finished piece is exactly as desired.
The mixture is heated up to several hundred degrees centigrade in a gas-fired kiln. Occasionally, bubbles of air can get trapped within the molten glass during this process and it is these than can sometimes be seen in the finished product - a normal and acceptable part of the process of handmade, mouthblown glass.
Handmade / Mouth Blown
Once the molten glass has reached the required temperature a team of about 5 workers forms at each window of the kiln. The glassblower will extend a cane into the kiln through the window and with it gather a small ball of molten glass. The cane is withdrawn and he will blow air through it into the glass to form a ball. At this temperature glass is very sticky and so adheres easily to the cane which, depending upon the eventual size of the product to be blown, can be put back into the kiln and rolled over and over to gather an ever-increasing amount of glass.
The molten ball of glass is then blown into its mould, which in nearly all cases at LSA is hand-made from wood. The mould is prevented from igniting by being doused in water just before the glass is blown into it. Once the shaping of the product is complete it is removed and taken for finishing.
There are a number of different finishing techniques, the most skilled of which is to scissor-cut the rim. The top edge of the glass is reheated until it is semi-molten and then the worker will cut away the excess glass around the rim, leaving a thick, rounded, soft-looking finish to the glass. Other finishing methods include cutting & polishing where the excess glass is allowed to cool to a degree, then scoured and 'cracked' off after which the resulting sharp edge is handground and polished on a wheel. Melting the rim is another possibility, which produces a finish similar to scissor-cutting, and fire-polishing, often employed on thinner walled rims such as with drinking glasses.
Applying textures to the glass allows Monika to create a completely different feel, look and character of a piece from its original, plain form. The use of different shaped optics inside the mould during the blown process can give a piece texture and an added dimension to its reflective qualities.
A number of techniques exist for colouring glass but at LSA we primarily employ the two most demanding and highly skilled of these, casing, when the glass is hot, and hand painting, once the glass has cooled down. LSA primarily uses casing, where a layer of clear glass is wrapped round a layer of coloured glass. This gives deep yet transparent colour to the piece and often creates a wonderful flow between the colour and the solid 'ice' of glass at the base of a piece. Alternatively, lustre or metallic paints are hand-applied offering numerous options for different tones and shades and yielding a beautifully reflective finish to the glass to bring it to life.