Blown Glass Rocket Ship Awards

   Posted by: Joy Alyssa Day in sculpture

While we were at the National Space Symposium, a next door exhibitor asked if we could put together some small awards for students. The catch was he didn't have much time. I came back to the studio and looked around for something that I had already in stock that would do well as awards, but I only had two or three of each appropriate thingie, and he needed 5 - 4 regular sized and one a bit larger.

We decided to go ahead and make 5 new pieces, using our smaller rocket ship card holder as a model. Since the rockets would be a little bigger, it was not the best choice to do them at the torch. It would be quicker to fire up the larger furnace and blow them on the big pipes. Then we could crank out a number of them relatively quickly.

First, I needed to get the bases ready, so we knew how large of a rocket ship would fit each. I have a number of three inch bevel glass pieces that were molded over a pebbly surface. This rounds the edges and makes each piece unique and interesting, not just a flat piece of glass. The guy wanted them to be etched with the symposium and date, so I masked each off and prepared them for etching.

Rocket Award Bases

Rocket Award Bases Ready for Etching

The lower section is where the etching mask is. You can't see the thin type in these pictures. Then I use blue painters tape to protect the rest of each piece from getting any overblast when I'm etching. I have a medium sized sandblasting cabinet that I use with a compressor, so all five discs went into that at once. I blasted each separately, but with all that grit flying around, if the pieces are not completely protected, they would most definitely get marked up.

When done, I cleaned them up and saw that a 4-5 inch rocket ship with fins would fit beautifully on top. So we fired the furnaces and went in for a day or two of blowing rocket ship shapes.

BJ at the Gaffer's Bench

BJ at the Gaffer's Bench

Here is BJ with one of the nearly finished rockets on the end of the blowpipe. Usually, he and I switch on and off from being the assistant or being the gaffer (person in charge, and doing the shaping). But I didn't want to throw him off his rhythm, so I let him be the gaffer the whole day. He had the hang of making the right shape, and we wanted them to be very similar to each other. Once he got done with each, he'd crack them off the pipe and into the annealer to cool down overnight.

Before blowing each day, I did some work at the torch making fins. Torchwork is much smaller and more precise, so I could get a heated bit of clear glass, mash it into a button and then pull a fin from the round shape. It's a little more difficult to make these match each other, but I get into the swing of it.

The next day, the rockets come out of the annealer and the fins come out of the little blue kiln and I could carve them to fit each other and epoxy them together. The scotch tape you'll see is just to hold the pieces from sliding until they set up. They will have to sit for an entire day before they set up enough to handle.

5 Rockets Epoxying

5 Rockets Epoxying

Here are the five little rockets, sitting on a triangle of "rocket blast" glass with their little fins strapped to them. I have the cup of epoxy sitting next to them so I can keep checking it instead of futzing with the rockets themselves. You can also see part of my drafting table, with my watercolors and watercolor pads. It's very interesting to do such a range of art techniques, but it makes for messy tables sometimes. OK, most of the time.....

Rocket in My Hand

Rocket in My Hand

Here is one of the rocket ships in my hand for scale. This is one of the smaller ones. Will make a very nice award!

Finished Rocket Award

Finished Rocket Award

And the finished piece! Yayy!!! The etching is nicely visible and the rocket ships have wonderful bubbles stretched over them. They look like little windows. I'm quite proud of these little steampunk rocket ships! We have already thought of a few different techniques to make the flame join in a little better, and I think the next ones will have three fins instead of two, but that would have infringed on the inscription of this one.

What do you think? suggestions? other ideas for us to try? Market places for them? You want one?


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6 Responses to: Blown Glass Rocket Ship Awards

  • Robin Maria Pedrero Says:

    I have been to glass blowing studios from Murano - to Orlando - Maui - Sedona and never saw a rocket. That's original!

  • John Torregrossa Says:

    Joy, I love these rocketships. I like 50's type space items. I got piece from JoeBlow Glass works in Vancouver, BC. It's a RayGunz. I've always want to add a rocketship. I had talked to local glassblower, but nothing ever came to it. I'm glad I found you on Twitter. John

  • Tanya Says:

    Yes, I want one for a special gift. Do you still have them?

  • Ed Schrum Says:

    Are you still making the Rocket Awards? How large are they? Can they be engraved or a plate placed on them? I would like to use them for trophies in our local sailing Rocket Regatta. How much are they? I would probably need 6. The race is April 28.

    • Joy Alyssa Day Says:

      Oh yes! The smaller ones are about 5-6 inches tall, and then the larger ones are 8-10 inches or 12 inches tall. The have a base plate that they sit on that can be engraved. The rocket itself can be engraved as well. They start out at $75 and the different types can be seen here: Thank you!!


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