Flos Glo-Ball: Molten Dust

Piombino Dese, a drab industrial town between Venice and Verona, has many small glass companies, including Vetrerie New Glass, founded by Franco Pellizzon in 1991 and one of several Glo-Ball suppliers. Pellizzon trained as a glassblower but saw no future for himself in the craft; he wanted to industrialize the process.

Workers at the facility begin the manufacturing process by dipping a hollow, stainless steel pole into a mass of molten glass. Through a delicate process of adding air, shaping against a cast-iron mold, and triple-dipping, the blowers build up a layered ball.

At Vetrerie New Glass, two warehouses surround a gravel yard, where the globes are lined up on cartons like eggs, shining despite the clouds. The glass technicians dip five-foot-long stainless steel poles into a transparent molten-sand mixture. A spherical shape is created by pressing a handheld cast-iron mold against the 800-degree-Celsius glass, whichrotates against the mold as the pole spins. The mold can only withstand a few seconds of heat before it needs to be dunked in water. After each pass against the mold, the glass is dipped into a white mix, adding another layer to the outside. The resulting hollow blob—–its skin like a sandwich of clear bread with white filling—–represents the completion of the first stage.

A worker begins his break by lighting a cigarette against the still red-hot, molten glass. At this phase in production, the white inner layer of the Glo-Ball looks transparent.

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