Mind-Blowing Blown Glass
When you first meet him, Aaron Kirchhoff seems more like a science nerd than an artist. In fact, Kirchhoff is a mixture of both. As a professor of sculpture in North Dakota State’s Visual Arts Department, he specializes in the extremely delicate art of glass blowing. As a scientific glass blower, he uses very specific physical and chemical properties of glass to create his intricate structures.
Scientific glass blowing differs from traditional glass blowing in that a scientific glass blower may use an oxygen, nitrogen or propane flame to heat the glass. For his demonstration Nov. 1, Kirchhoff used a propane-assisted oxygen flame. This flame was similar to the flame used to create the pieces he showcased at part of the Memorial Union Gallery’s Faculty Exhibition.
The professor used a variety of glass rods and tubes for his demonstration, in different thicknesses. He started by describing how a glass blower must evenly and gradually heat the glass or it will crack, because the material will unevenly expand. Kirchhoff also uses a special grip technique when he is heating the glass to help determine when the glass is just the right temperature to pull out of the fire, usually somewhere are 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the original story, read The Spectrum.