Joe Cariati’s work is entirely “free blown”, a Venetian glassblowing process that utilizes the human hand, not blow molds, to form vessels from start to finish. No part of our process is automated and it cannot be replicated by any machine or mold. A small team of experienced glassmakers assist Joe during the process to ensure the utmost quality and proportion of each piece. From color preparation, to gathering to proper amount of material, each work is literally made one by one, using ancient techniques that have been perfected over the course of Joe’s twenty-year career.
After the deluxe, Ferrari red espresso machine, the second hardest working piece of equipment at 141 Penn, the official name of the JC studio, is the Glass Furnace, working 24/7 at temperatures up to 2400°F. To make the approximate 400 lbs. of glass that we blow in the shop each week, the furnace is carefully loaded with the raw materials 50 lbs. at a time, every 90 minutes over a period of 9 hours. Once full, the glass continues to cook at 2400° for an additional 8 hours. The glass then rests for 24 hrs. to “fine out” letting all of the bubbles rise out of the mass until it is becomes perfect.
With a viscosity similar to honey, a small amount of clear, molten glass is “gathered” on the end of the blow pipe. Air is then blown into the pipe creating a bubble and pre-heated color is dropped over the bubble and rolled back, more clear glass is added until enough glass has been gathered to create the piece.
The “start” is passed off to Joe and formed into the vessel at the glassblower’s bench. The bench is where the majority of the shaping and blowing occurs and the Vessel is formed.
THE GLORY HOLE
We know… but really, it’s a thing. The glass cools quickly during the blowing process so In order to maintain a working temperature, it is reheated in a second furnace called the “glory hole”.
What makes our process unique is the fact that the work is “puntied” or transferred from the blow pipe onto a solid rod called a punty. Once the shaping of the neck, body and foot is complete, a solid bit of glass on the end of a punty rod is attached to the center of the bottom of the vessel. The work is then broken off of the blow pipe and transferred onto the punty rod. The neck and lip of the vessel are then reheated, extruded and shaped. Joe’s elegant necks on the Angelic Bottles, and signature “T-top” lips of the Decanters can only be made using this transfer process. It cannot be imitated or replicated by molds or machines.
Once the glass is complete, it is broken off of the punty, and “put away” into an annealing oven at a temperature of 900°.. When the days work is complete it is slowly cooled in the oven overnight to prevent breakage and “strengthen” (or anneal) the glass so it will not crack from thermal stress.
The next day, when the glass is cool, it is moved into the cold working studio. There, each work is run on a diamond lapidary machine in order to “seam” the bottom of each vessel so it sits completely flat. This hand ground process is evident in each work, another feature that is not common amongst mass produced ware.