The making of a Nude Stem

by Frank Wollenhaupt
Issue No. 440 - August 2010

Webmaster's NOTE: This article was extracted from Frank's regular column entitled "Only Questions: No Answers."

This month is a bit slow with everyone settling back into their normal routine since the convention. I received an email asking how were the bowls attached to the nude stems?

This process is the same for any blown stem, not just the Nude stem.

First off, I need to ask if anyone has ever been to a glass factory and seen how glass is made. Come on now; raise your hands if you have. Ok, looks like about 32% have actually seen glass produced. Next time you visit Cambridge you need to go see Mosser work. If you love glass, you will really appreciate how it's made.

Back to the stem.

If you take a blown stem and give it a close look, you will see that it is made up of three parts, the bowl, stem and foot. How is it done? ... Magic

Not magic but close ... that is why I asked if any of you had seen glass made. It's like a ballet. Everyone doing their thing but watching everyone else so it all comes together at the same time.

The stem is pressed by one group of men (shop) at the same time, the blow shop is starting to gather glass on Bowl attachment the blow pipe and blowing the bowl shape into another mold and yet another man is getting a small gather of glass on a punty and rolling it on the marver to reduce the size and make it smaller.

The stem comes out of the mold and a worker holds the stem in a set of asbestos tongs. A second man comes over with the glass on the punty and a small bit is cut off right on the top of the nude stem's head (photos at right).

At about the same time, the blown bowl is brought over and set on top of the nude's head, held in place with that little Stem with overblow disc of hot glass. Now the man holding the stem lets go and the man with the blown bowl takes it over to the finishing bench.

But before he starts to put the foot on the stem, he stops by the glory hole and heats it up a bit so it will accept the gather of glass for the foot. Another man comes to the finisher with a blob of glass that he has rolled into shape and proceeds to drop it onto the foot of the nude stem. When enough glass has been dropped, the finisher cuts it off and starts to shape it into the foot of the stem.

The piece is then set in the Lehr to cool down, after which the "overblow" (shown at left) is cut off and the rim is polished to finish the item.

Boy that makes me tired just trying to make sure that I have added everything ...

So you can see that making a nude stem or any other blown stem is very labor and time intensive. This process of making a stem involved 8 or 9 men working together in harmony to create one stem. This went on hour after hour. Can you imagine how much this stem would cost with today's wages?