If Buck Rogers and Barbarella visited Earth in 2006, cooled, the sharp edge where it had been attached to
they’d buy their weaponry at Joe Blow Glassworks the blowpipe is ground down for a stainless steel tip to
in Vancouver, British Columbia. Along with Jetsons- be bonded on later. Larger guns are constructed from
esque goblets and lamps, Jeff Burnette blows blown components attached with scavenged auto parts.
molten glass into beautiful, bulbous Raygunz that “I grew up south of Detroit, and my brother was into
fire invisible beams of science fiction nostalgia. hot rods, so that rubbed off on me,” Burnette says.
“I was really inspired by the B movies I watched To create the Raygunz’ otherworldly opaque glow,
as a kid,” says Burnette, who has a collection of he sends the glass pieces to a scientific glass blower
nearly 300 vintage toy rayguns. who employs very different techniques. Silver nitrate,
The process begins in Burnette’s 2100°F furnace ammonia, and distilled water are poured into the
that keeps 200 pounds of molten glass at the consis- open end of the Raygun. When the liquid is poured
tency of honey. Burnette dips his steel blowpipe into out, the silver is left as an interior mirror-like coating.
the furnace and gathers a glob of glass on the end The pistol-size guns sell at galleries for around
of a tube. He then rolls the hot glass over powdered $600 while the larger creations, up to two feet long,
pigment, or frit, colored crushed glass. Burnette can run several thousand dollars. After all, molten
then puts his lungs to work. (“Always blow,” he says, glass doesn’t come cheap. Burnette’s average
“don’t suck!”) Once the shape of a gun is formed, monthly gas bill is $1,800.
he adds decorative bits of colored glass, a handle, “Everybody likes to play with fire,” he says. “I’m
and a trigger. Markings are hand-tooled directly onto just doing it on a bigger scale.”
the glass. Next stop is the annealing oven where —David Pescovitz
the temperature is lowered slowly over ten hours to
prevent the glass from cracking. After the piece has >> Joe Blow Glassworks: joeblowglassworks.com