The bell jars before hot popping.

Hey there!

I figured it was time to get some glass on this glass blog.  I was commissioned a couple weeks ago to produce some custom bell jars for ceramic artist: Lana Filippone.  She has an amazing show opening this week in the Gallery space at a store called Distill here in Toronto.  It’s called Dwelling on a Whim.  I documented the making of the jars and wanted to share some of the process here with you.  The technique I’m focusing on is called “hot-popping”.  It’s the process of using a blow torch to cut a smooth, round piece of glass such as a bottle, tube, or  (in this case) a jar.  It’s quick, easy and pretty reliable.  It’s also effing scary.  I’ll show you why.

The first thing to do when using the hot pop technique is score the glass.  You’ll need a diamond tool of some kind (an etching pen works well).  All I had in the shop was a diamond bit from my dremel kit so that’s what I used.

My dremel bit.


The score on the jar. Can you see it? Tiny.


Use whatever tool you decide on to scratch a small line in the side of your glass in the direction you want it to break.  It should be realllly tiny tough.  No more than a centimeter.  Any bigger than that and the cut will probably not go where you want it to.

Next, You’ll need to place the piece on a turntable of some kind.  I borrowed this one from the ceramics studio next door but anything that rotates should work.

My borrowed turntable with roll of duct tape to stabilize the piece. Fancy!

Lastly you’ll need a blowtorch.  In the hotshop, we tend to use “map” gas (comes in the yellow canister) as it burns a lot hotter, but I imagine regular propane (blue canister) would work just as well.  You’ll need something to anchor the torch as well.  I just used some random tripod thing I found in the shop as you’ll see in the video below.  Again. Fancy.

My trusty torch.

I think the video explains more about the process than I could hope to in words so here it is!  A couple small points to remember:  keep the torch very steady and in line with the score you made previously.  You’ll have to play around with the timing of it all.  Too much torch and you could shatter the whole piece, too little and it might not work at all.  Click the link to see the video.  Safety Glasses People!!!

The finished jars. Neat and tidy!

For an idea of what might go inside these puppies, check out Lana Filippone’s official website here:  Her work is incredible!  Here’s a link to the show venue:  It opens tomorrow and it’s on until the 18th of September so come see!  Come by tomorrow to celebrate and have some drinks with us in the Distillery District.


Balance Glassworks


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