Flos Glo-Ball: Blow Mold
Published by Dwell

When the blob has reached a diameter of about six inches, it has already been handled by two or three blowers, who multitask like chefs. The men work in shorts and sandals, protected from the heat only by a makeshift cloth cover on one arm. After these ages-old steps, the Glo-Ball’s most technological moment arrives, but the importance of craft is never eclipsed. “We have 12 glassblowers here,” says Pellizzon, “but only two of them can do this part. It’s difficult—–you have to know exactly how much to exhale and when to stop.”

When the molten ball reaches a diameter of about six inches, a technician carefully lowers the glass into a mold in the factory floor. As the glass cools, the white inner layer becomes visible.

Beneath the warehouse floor is a pit in which cold mist sprays directly onto a perforated-steel mold that opens and closes mechanically; when open, the concave inner surface can be seen, covered in charcoal powder. “Otherwise,” Pellizzon explains, “the glass comes out like orange peel.” The glass is lowered into the mold as it swings shut. The craftsman blows and spins the pole, passing it to a coworker when he tires. Meanwhile, the water cools the conductive metal; after 40 seconds the mold opens and they lift out the formed globe.

Jets of water cool the mold and its contents at a pace carefully calibrated to ensure consistent thickness. With the just the right amount of spinning and exhaling by the technician, the Glo-Ball reaches its signature shape in a little under a minute.

Once the Glo-Ball has received its final shape from the mold, a worker spins the translucent glass to continue cooling and to check for any imperfections or cracks.

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