Hot Shop in a Box

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The Corning Museum of Glass blows glass around the world: on the decks of Celebrity Cruise ships, on several stages at The Corning Museum of Glass, and on mobile stages at venues around the world. One of the programs we offer is GlassLab, which brings top designers together with our glassmakers to explore and prototype designs in glass.

Recently, architect Paul Haigh worked with us to put our hot shop in a box that can be shipped around the world. This robust, fully equipped glassblowing demonstration stage fits into a twenty foot shipping container. The container arrives on site on the back of a trailer which is moved as close to the final location as possible. The container has four large hydraulic legs, one at each corner; the legs extend outwards past the width of the trailer and then extend downwards eventually lifting the container off of the trailer.

If it’s necessary to move the trailer further, gigantic casters are fitted into the ends of the hydraulic legs and the container is rolled to its final location.  Weight-spreading feet are attached to the legs when it’s at its final location.

The trailer has small doors at either end and twin larger doors on the side. The twin doors are opened so that the container will form the back portion of the stage. The trailer contains everything necessary for glassblowing. There is a gas distribution system which can use either natural gas or propane. There is an electrical distribution panel. The actual equipment can be modified to suit the location. Generally there is a gas fired melting furnace of 130 pounds.  The container can accommodate up to two gloryholes. 

There is also an annealer, an iron warmer and a place to heat color bar.  The stage in the front can be built to suit the location: typically it is 24 feet wide and 16 out from the trailer.

The container has room for a canopy, spare parts, glassblowing tools and supplies, tools to repair the equipment and a sound system.  The big advantage of the container is that it is easy to ship.  It has been lashed to the deck of cargo ships and shipped across the Atlantic.  It has been hauled by trucks both in North America and Europe. It has been lifted into place with a crane.  This system is extremely flexible and will allow glassblowing in locations which were previously impossible or impractical.

The GlassLab container stage debuted at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, during the Art Basel 2010 fair. Check out our YouTube videos to see designers like Wendell Castle, Max Lamb, Sigga Heimis and Jeff Zimmerman working on the new hotshop.