Blown and formed using original shade molds, many of which we own, our schoolhouse selection is made from genuine Opal glass – the key ingredient to our shades’ even distribution of light, creamy consistency, and easy-on-the-eyes glow.
Some so-called “painted” shades actually get their color from decals which yellow and crack over time. You’ll find none of that sticky stuff here. Our shades earn their stripes by hand, and they’re baked on for long-lasting color quality.
Creating each shade, one at a time, requires elaborate choreography and precise timing. Click through the slideshow below to see each stage of the process.
Glass Gathering: The Gatherer collects a small amount of molten glass onto the blowpipe from inside the furnace. Using centrifugal force and gravity, he’ll shape the lump into a small solid sphere called the “gather.”
Creating a Parison: The Gatherer blows air into the glass to create a “parison” – the first small glass bubble formed at the end of the blowpipe. He continually spins the parison to maintain a consistent shape and wall thickness. Once it reaches a specified diameter, he hands it off to the Blocker.
Blocking Preparation: The Blocker returns the glass ball to the furnace, where he gathers additional glass and reheats it. The Blocker’s skills and experience are critical at this stage, as he determines precisely how much glass is needed for each individual shade.
Glass Blocking: The Blocker places the hot glass into a wet block made of cherry wood, where he shapes it into perfect sphere before transferring it to the Blower.
Glass Blowing: The Blower is the team lead charged with overseeing production. Here, he positions and spins the hot glass above the shade mould to determine the precise amount of glass required to fill it. The mould is closed around the glass while the Blower continues to spin the blowpipe, evenly filling the mould and forming the shade’s shape.
Formation: The shade is now formed, and the shade mould is opened to ready the glass for inspection. After the shade is removed, the mould will be flooded with cold water to prepare it for the next glass blowing.
Inspection: The Inspector examines the glass for foreign objects and major flaws which would render the shade cosmetically or structurally damaged.
Annealing: The Inspector places the shade in the lear – a massive, computer-controlled oven used to relieve the stress of the annealing process. Using a few drops of cold water, the Inspector will “wet off” the shade to separate it from the blowpipe.
Controlled Cooling: Still warm from the furnace, new glass shades rest in the lear oven for a long period of controlled, gradual cooling. Glass that cools too quickly is at great risk of thermal shock, which causes cracked or broken shades.
Cutting: The Cutter uses a diamond blade and wet saw to remove the excess glass, which will later be returned to the furnace to create more shades. The opening that you see near the blade is the shade\’s “fitter” – the flared lip that fits inside a light fixture\’s shade holder. After cutting, the shade fitter will be ground and polished to create a smooth edge.
Prepping for Paint or Packaging: Once the shade fitter is cut, ground, and polished, it’s then placed on a rack to prepare it for painting or shipping.
Painting By Hand: Many of our most popular opal glass Schoolhouse shades come in your choice of hand-mixed, hand-painted colors based on authentic period tones. Here, the Decorator paints a final finishing stripe with one hand while she turns the platform with another. Once completed, the shade will be returned to an oven to bake on its painted stripes.