Tools for making twisty cane

Tools for making twisty cane

Cane are rods of glass; they can be clear, solid color or have all manner of lines of color inside of them.  They can also be incorporated in a mass of molten glass and pulled and twisted into all sorts of patterns.  This highly-patterned cane is referred to by the Italian term 'zanfirico' or sometimes called 'twisty cane'.  Making this style of cane requires connecting a cylinder of molten glass to two metal rods called 'punties', then with two glassmakers holding the punties, one of them walks to stretch the glass while they both furiously turn the punties to twist up the glass.  This approach has been used for at least hundreds of years and while effective, the tightness of the twists are limited by the amount of glass being twisted and the ability for the glassmakers to rapidly turn the punties.  

 

I love really tightly twisted patterns so a decade ago I started experimenting with using a drill to do the twisting rather than doing it manually.  Of course I needed to figure out an approach for safely attaching the drill to a punty in a safe and ergonomic fashion.  The device I came up with is akin to a paint stirrer.  It was refined a bit over the years to add a heat shield so my hand doesn't roast while pulling the cane, a handle so I could easily angle the glass as it pulled off the attachment and bushings to make it turn more smoothly.  While it was serviceable and likely pulled a few miles of nice cane, I always wanted to re-design it into a really refined tool.  So during the pandemic shutdown, I reimagined how I would make the ultimate cane twister, specified the parts I would need, ordered everything and worked with contractors for certain parts.  The result is this spinner tool.