Glass Alchemy: A Look Into a Scientific Glass-blowing Studio

Have you ever wondered who makes all the glass you find in a chemistry lab? The answer isn’t very far away. It’s tucked into the basement of the Science building, in UCalgary’s very own glass-blowing shop.

Videography by Haley Martin

Erlenmeyer flasks, graduated cylinders and beakers … oh my? It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as that famous saying from those beloved characters off to see the Wizard on the Yellow Brick Road, but in the basement of the Science A Building at the University of Calgary, Mark Toonen is forging a different kind of magic. Toonen has been glass-blowing for the Chemistry department for more than 27 years, creating custom scientific glassware for graduate student research. The craft is more than melting glass to him; it’s a connection to a bigger purpose and the upkeep of a family’s legacy.

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