Instruction - Scientific Glassblowing Fundamentals

Histroy of Glassblowing Course at Iowa:

1According to the General Catalogs the first entry for "Elements of Glass Blowing" is found in the 1922-23 academic year, the year the Chemistry Building was opened. The course number was 184 with a 1 semester hour credit. "Elements of Glass Blowing" was tought by Ronald Johnson (Glassblower 1922-25) until he left the University in 1925.  J.W. Robins (Glassblower 1925-30) continued teaching the "Elements" course (184) from 1925-29. In the academic year 1926-27, possibly due to popularity of the course, a second section was added 183. Frank Long (Glassblower 1930-34) began teaching the courses from 1929-33. In 1933-34, Herman Wiegand (Glassblower 1934-1950) taught "Elements of Glass Blowing," and in 1943-44 the course name was changed to "Glassblowing," and the course numbers were now 4:183 and 4:184. Wiegand taught the course through the 1949-50 academic year. Harry Nunamaker (Glassblower 1950-61) began teaching "Glassblowing" in fall 1950, when the course number was listed as 4:183 only. Nunamaker taught the course through 1961. John Coutant (Glassblower 1962-77) taught "Glassblowing," course number 4:183 only in the academic year 1962-63. There is no further record of the course being taught again until the Winter Session 2013 (January Term).

The "Scientific Glassblowing Fundamentals" course is currently offered in the Winter session, taught by Benjamin Revis (Glassblower 2011-present).  The intent of the course is not to make proficient glassblowers out of every student, but to expose them to the Scientific Glass fabrication process. With this experience the student should walk away with a better appreciation for the behind the sceans support industry that is Scientific Glassblowing. Some may even need to call on their experiences later in life when they get out into the research field or industry where they may need to perform a minor repair or at the least communicate with a professional glassblower informing them of their research needs.

CHEM:3560:0001 (004:156:001) Advanced Methods in Chemical Research
Scientific Glassblowing Fundamentals

An introduction to the basic manipulations of Borosilicate Glass for the purpose of fabricating basic scientific apparatus.  Students will learn how to pull points, join tubing together, fabricate a cold trap (bubbler), condenser, drying tube, and distillation column.  The techniques learned with imaginative ingenuity can be applied to larger more complex apparatus as well as artistic representation.

Principles of Chemistry - II; Honors (CHEM: 1120)

Tour of the Glass Facility and discussion of Scientific Glassblowing applications and limitations.

Fundamentals of Chemical Measurments (CHEM: 1120)

Ion Selective Electrode ConstructionStudents construct ion selective electrodes that they will use in subsequent proceedures. A basic introduction of glass manipulation is taught in order to accomplish the construction purpose.

Inorganic; Lab (CHEM: 3530)

Students are exposed to the construction of a 'T', test-tube, and bubbler.  With the final deliverable being a viable bubbler.

Synthesis and Measurement (CHEM: 4450)

Students are shown how to tip-off ampoules and provided a demonstration of resources and capabilities available in the Glass Facility


1. Credit and thanks should be given to Denise Anderson of the University of Iowa Libraries & Special Collections for helping locate and compile the course history information.

2. Photos by: Benjamin Revis