Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/174

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162
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tles in all stages of development. There is complete singleness of purpose. They are all intent on turning out the largest number of bottles possible for the pay is largely by the piece. Where the bottles are very small, one man has been known to blow as many as two hundred dozen in a day, but this is exceptional activity.

There are, all told, seven persons in such a shop : three men, of whom two blow the bottles, while a third, the gaffer, forms the necks, and four boys who gather the molten glass, open the molds, and carry away the finished products. The gatherer is a some- what older hoy than the others, and stands in direct line of pro- motion ; is, in fact, a blower or gaffer in embryo. He aspires the others but distantly. One shop is attached to each boot ; and occa- sionally, when work presses, there are two shops to a boot, but this is rather crowding things and is not favorable to the best working. The process begins with the gatherer. His blowpipe is a tube of wrought iron, five or six feet long, and of lighter weight than the pipe used in blowing window glass. He dips the end of his pipe into the molten contents of the boot, and brings out a mass of red- hot plastic glass. If the bottles to be blown are small, one gath- ering suffices, but, for larger wares, two or even three gatherings may be necessary to get the requisite supply of material on the end of the blowpipe. When the gathering is done properly, this lump of red-hot glass is a perfectly homogeneous mass. Its subse- quent fortunes rest with the blower. He takes the blowpipe from the gatherer, and, resting the plastic glass against a marvering table of stone or cast iron, he gives the pipe a few adroit rotations, thus fashioning the glass into an even cylindrical shape. By further rolling it along the edge of the table he forms the smaller prolongation of glass which is afterward to become the neck of the bottle. Lifting the still red-hot glass from the table, he blows through the pipe, forming a small bubble of air in the interior of the mass of glass. This is afterward extended until it becomes the inwardness of the bottle.

The partly fashioned bit of glassware is now introduced into the mold which one of the " shop " boys has already opened to receive it. For convenience in working, the mold is placed on a somewhat lower level than that on which the blower stands. It is made of cast iron, and is commonly formed in two pieces. One of these is stationary, while the other opens outward, its motion being controlled by a foot-lever. When the blower places his in- complete bottle, still attached to the blowpipe, into the mold, he closes the mold with his foot, and blows through the pipe until the plastic glass is everywhere forced against the sides of the mold, and has impressed upon it the form of its prison. Then with a quick motion the blower detaches his blowpipe from the