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Felicia, when I see hand gathered I immediately think of gathering glass on the end of a punty rod from a furnace. I think of furnace marbles. Hand made I think of torch marbles, working with glass rods, melting them in the torch flame. Maybe some of the glass workers can give a better difference in the terms. Edna

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In vintage marbles they are Two completely differnt types of marbles. Handgathered is a machine made marble. They lack the order found in the vintage handmades(which have pontils) The glass just got to the machine by a person gathering it on a punty out of a pot. It was then held over the machine (rounding rollers) and as the glass ran off the punty it was cut by shears. at first done by another person. Later it was a mechanical shears. Then later no person was involved at all when gob feeders came into use. Here is much great info. Glossary at AkronMarbles Peace,Galen

First pic handgathered,second handmade.



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For a "hand gathered" marble - the gaffer picks up a quantity of hot glass on the end of a steel rod (known as a punty) using a circular motion. That hot (and flowing) glass is then held over the marble machine and is allowed to drip at a reasonably constant flow rate into a machine which takes a small portion of the hot glass and rounds it into a sphere. A helper stands near the hot glass gather with glass shears to cut the appropriate quantitiy of glass for each marble.

In a handmade marble - a cane of glass is slowly constructed in a series of successive steps to build a design in the form of a cylinder on the end of a punty. For a Latticinio core swirl or example - the gaffer would pick up a quantity of clear glass and begin to gradually form it into a cylinder - perhaps 4" in diameter or so.

This is Harry Bessett demonstrating at Wheaton Village:




The gaffer will use calipers to know the circumference of the cylinder and will adjust towards a specific circumference. That circumference is important for the next step - picking up individual thin color rods that will form the latticinio core.

The color rods are placed on a marver plate (usually steel) with parallel grooves to hold the color rods to be picked up. The rods are heated by an assistant to bring them to a temperature similar to that of the cylinder to allow them to adhere and to avoid temperature shock.

An assistant heats the color rods on a white grooved marver plate:


When the cane cyliner is the right dimension - it is laid on the end of the grooved marver and slowly rotated across the face of the marver - picking up the latticinio rods. If the dimension is correct - the rods will be evenly spaced after the last one is picked up (if not - there will be a gap).




The cylinder and rods will go into the gloryhole to be heated together and go to the steel marver table to be pressed together evenly. Then back to the gloryhole.

Another gather of clear is made on to of the core rods. Rememer that the cylinder is still quite thick - 4-6" or so. If you look closely you can see the latticion core color rods inside the clear:



If it is a two stage piece (outer bands) - the artist will prepare to pick up outer color rods (which may also become flattened ribbons) in the same way the core was set-up on a grooved marver plate. The outer rods are picked up, heated, rolled on the marver and one last gather of clear is collected from the pot. This is now rolled into a even cylinder.


Back into the glory hole for re-heating:


Back to the marver for shaping and smoothing:




Here is a pic of Geoff Beetem using the marver:


That cylinder is likely larger in diameter than the desired marbles - so it is "pulled down" to a smaller diameter. This is done by re-heating it evenly (end to end) and having an assistant grasp the end of the thick cane with a tool and pulling in opposite directions until the desired diameter is reached.

(This pic is of pulling murrini cane - but it is the same process)



The artist then uses glass shears to cut off the end of the cane - which is a somewhat ragged collection of colors and uneven glass. That new "end" of the cane is the start of a marble and is rounded into a sphere by use of a wet hardwood cup.


The artist then sits and uses a pair of jacks to begin narrowing the cane at a point by constantly revolving the punty - back and forth (remember that the cylinder of glass is hot and fairly soft). This continues until the marble takes its spherical shape.



Geoff Beetem:


The "neck" of the marble narrows until the artist is ready to remove it from the cane like this:


Geoff Beetem fire polishing the pontil:


Voila - a new handmade marble!

Hope this helps!


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Wow!! Galen's response was great... But Alan, that was awesome!!

My pictures are really poor... I apologize for the shaky / blurriness... I wasn't in a good position and had to move fast to get these... But, these are pictures of the running of the Vitro Machine at Wheaton Village...

The machine was donated to the museum and Scott Meyer put in a TON of hours stripping it down, fixing it up and getting it running... There was a small run of demo marbles produced in 2003 & 2004.

This is probably as close as it comes to seeing a hand gathered process, unless some of the guys who are still doing it have some pics for us.....



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Alan, you're saying more than one marble gets made from the same glob the worker has gathered up onto the end of his punty, right?

When I was picturing the worker putting a single marble sized glob on his punty at one time, I thought I understood the tail. Now I'm back somewhere near square 1. Hopefully a little further, lol, but not sure!

So, how does the tail get on the hand-gathereds?

When the helper with the shears cuts one glob off, it drops to the rollers. That cutting action gave the cutline on the marble that dropped. so far so good?

But the same cutting action tugs out a new tail on the glass that is left on the punty?

And then does the worker continue to twist the punty after each glob is sheared off, to keep the glass more or less stable, and is that how the new tail gets looped around?

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Steph, I believe the tail is from pulling the glob out of the pot. Then just one marble is sheared before a regather if another tail is to be made. That is how size was pretty well kept the same. they knew how much glass to gather for each marble. Shearing more than one marble off a gather would make two seam marbles. I do not believe that was the case. Peace,Galen

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Thanks. :-) That's where I was at. Wondering about a 2nd seam if there was a 2nd marble cut from the same gather.

Those guys who did it for a living must have had amazing control of what went on, and off of, their punties.

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