Watch these next: The Chandelier Tree – Silver Lake’s twinkling neighborhood gem, more glass, and more glass blowing videos.
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It all starts with the melting of the components at more than 1450 degrees celsius. To achieve these temperatures, the furnaces are always kept on — it takes up to a month to warm them up again! Each furnace holds a specific color, sublimed by the 540 red, a result of the fusion of gold particles.
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Through free blowing, or mold blowing, the glass is starting to take shape — but it’s only the beginning. Applying the right pressure in the blow and extending the glass to the right size will result in the most perfect pieces (60% of pieces will be destroyed to be incorporated into raw material again). To the most expert eye it only takes a second to verify the quality of the crystal and reject it without a doubt!
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Made from melted silica sand, potash, lead (over 24%), and other ingredients, crystal is heavier and more sparkly than glass, making it a perfect material for this light refracting decorative ceiling lamp: The chandelier. Watch how the Baccarat crystal studio makes a blown crystal chandelier in this episode of How It’s Made.
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To complete the hot process, the glass slowly proceeds through a tunnel to cool down and avoid any stress on the crystal that may otherwise explode.
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Learn about the different stages of the hot process in Baccarat glassmaking — from sand to liquid, lava to crystal, and beyond.
Once the crystal is very malleable, almost like a marshmallow, it can be expanded through blowing, or worked upon in a mold. The tools have not changed over the centuries and remain very rudimentary. The expertise stands with the craftsman, accompanied only by a wooden paddle to extend their hand, a compass to verify measurements, and a simple but powerful pair of scissors to cut the glass is all they need. Meet René Vinter, MOF.
From glasses with a leg and a foot, to a water pitcher and its handle, the pieces go back to the furnace several times to fuse all the pieces together. Each piece goes through a very magical transformation. When the artisan blows the molten glass in a mold, only upon opening it do they discover the finished product. When the artisan stretches and expands a string of gooey glass, it’s like a captivating snake, undulating to perfection. Meet Frédéric Furst, MOF.
The hot process is about the different states of matter. The granular sand, associated with other ingredients, becomes a liquid. This molten lava takes shape to become solid once again under the high craftsmanship of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF).
The first step is to collect the glass in fusion by dipping the blowing stick in the crystal lava, and turning it continuously to obtain a balanced amount of raw material. Once out of the furnace, the molten material will drop to 500 degrees, making the process extremely time sensitive requiring perfect coordination and staging. The glassmaker must also find the right groove while the glass hardens as it cools, all the while fighting the effect of gravity.
Making a Baccarat crystal piece takes patience, precision, expertise, and a whole team of people. From the alchemy, to mixing the sand and potasse, to the many important final touches, over 30 hands (with at least 15 years of experience each) have participated in the making of the most unique pieces. Learn about the different stages of glassmaking, starting here with the hot process, and ending with the cold process.
From here, the piece moves on to begin the next phase, known as the cold process.
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