This Small Town in Shanxi “Blows” Glass to the World

22 April, 2024

Is the glass blown out?Glass blowing is a unique skill,but it can’t be done without some lung capacity! Changing glass into the desired shape requires not only lung capacity but also skill.

Which company is better at hand-blown glass?Check out "Qixian" in Jinzhong,Shanxi!How does quartz sand become exquisite glass products?Let’s go into Qixian County,the “thousand-year-old city”,and explore the "past and present" of the glassware industry.

Is the glass blown out?

From raw materials to finished products,there are more than a dozen processes,and some even require dozens of processes. Hand blowing is the most important step in the glassware making process. In the production workshop of hand-blown glass,the feeling can be said to be "hot, hot, hot"!The biggest heat source is the glass furnace in the workshop. The glass solution in the furnace needs to be heated to 1500°C,and workers use a blow rod to take out the solution. After the worker takes out the solution,the amount of material cannot be increased or decreased. This requires the worker's hand feeling and experience to operate. After the glass blank enters the mold, the workers need to turn the rod while blowing so that the blank can be evenly formed in the mold, which also tests the workers' skills.

Some special glass products without molds still need to rely on the skills of master craftsmen. For example,the "Swan" decanter. Unlike other conventional decanters,special-shaped decanters do not have molds. An old master said:"There is no mold, and the shape and capacity must be basically the same. This is the main difficulty."

Let's take a look at the goblet. Qixian's hand-blown goblets account for about 80% of China's total output. It is also the largest production and export base for hand-blown glassware in China. The most difficult process of hand-blown glass goblets is the pulling process. It is difficult to pull the length, thickness and gloss of the stick.

The biggest advantage of artificial blowing is its unique shape, exquisiteness and flexibility. However, it is inevitable that there will be less output and higher production costs. While giving full play to the characteristics of manual blowing, the local area has increased investment in automated mechanism production lines and gradually upgraded its traditional industry. On the premise of meeting market demand, they not only maintain quality and quantity, but also retain their own characteristics.

Qixian County, the core area of the hometown of Shanxi merchants, is a legendary place. Following the "Ten Thousand Li Tea Route" pioneered by Shanxi merchants in the past, glass production technology has long taken root in Qi County. From the initial small workshop, it has developed into the world-renowned "Chinese Glassware Capital" today. This small town produces 2 billion pieces of exquisite glassware every year, with products covering more than 8,000 varieties in 10 series including wine sets, tea sets, and coffee sets. 70% of the products are exported to more than 80 countries and regions. These glass products sold all over the world not only have complex craftsmanship, but also retain the ancient process of manual glass blowing.

Today, Qi County is making every effort to promote the construction of characteristic professional towns. If you are also interested, would you like to come to Qixian County to experience "glass blowing"?

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