Glassworking Blocks

Several wooden shaping “blocks” were found at Dyottville Glass Works. A glassblower cooled and shaped a “gather” of hot glass on the end of a blowpipe by rotating the glass in the block’s carved recess. The block was kept wet, thus creating a thin layer of steam to cushion the hot glass. This was the first step in the process of making an object, such as a flask. In a factory setting, stationary blocks like this one allowed the glassblower to work very quickly. Contemporary glassblowers still use blocks, but they are usually handheld. Wooden blocks are traditionally made from the wood of fruit trees—surprisingly, this example is fir or cedar. Having been waterlogged and buried for 150 years, it is amazingly well preserved.