Hot Glass Bits #15

Contact Mike Firth

September 1993

Prev.Issue 14 Link to HGB Table of Contents Next Issue 16

CGCA 1994 A STATUS BOOK BOOK
GOLD GOLD II CONTROLLER LEAD
GARAGE ELECTRICAL POWER OFF SHARP SHARDS
TEFLON GATHERING REGRET CORNING NY
CHIHULY HAS TO BLOW FURNACES COMPUSERVE
GALLERY ALUMINUM NOTES, A R

This issue contains deadline information, 11/19/93 for CGCA Fellowships

Hot Glass Bits is a personal chronological record of my wanderings through glass blowing and the bits and pieces of knowledge I gather along the way. It includes things I try, thoughts I have, information I receive, and reports on things I do. In many ways it is an edited diary and events calendar about glass blowing. If it is useful to others, it is worth the effort.

-------------------
CGCA 1994 Artists Fellowships [Creative Glass Center of America, 1501 Glasstown Rd, Millville NJ 08332-1566 Denise Dendrinos, Program Coordinator, 609-825-6800 x2733] are available for May 31-Aug.26 and Sep.6-Dec.2, 1994. Deadline for these two is November 19. "Preference is given to artists who have had several years experience outside the educational environment." Four fellowships are given per session. The fellows live together in a four bedroom house, receive $500 a month for expenses, have 24 hour access to the studio and all the glass they can use. Fellows assist each other. Studio space is shared with Wheaton Village staff who demonstrate to the public. The public can observe the artists who are expected to work 12 hours/week during public time, but they are not required to demo. Application requires 10 slides and ten copies of paper work, which includes two letters of recommendation, resume, statement and application form. Rev. 7/26/93

One of the prizes of my life is the onionskin copy of the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica [sic], 1910-11, the one before World War I and the last with long essays credited to specific individuals in the style of 19th writing. During my early college years I had attempted to track down a microfilm of the edition, wanting the essays and literature, never expecting to be able to afford the original, or carry it around. Then on a visit to an aunt outside Boston, she took me to a closet, pointed to the array of books and quietly asked me if I wanted them, just for the taking. I was floored. I refer to the books more often than some might expect since the history they contain has not changed and the picture they give of small cities of the time is enlightening.
All of which is to say that I finally got around to reading the entries on glass. Glass gets 18.5 pages (with six more on Stained Glass) divided between manufacture and history. The primary author, Harry James Powell, FCS, was of the firm James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars Glass Works, and pictures include products of that firm. The history is interesting in that it keys on both the technology changes and the taxes and laws that caused people to move or change products. The article has far more technical detail than one would find today, including optical properties of 20 glasses, eight glass recipes, and pictures of tools that look the same as today.
And all of that which leads to a comment that in the pictures of Whitefriars glass, 1906, are a nice pulled color pattern (curves pulled to a point, probably after wrapping and before further blowing) and a goblet with an open triple one-third turn spiral stem that is more graceful for coming together top and bottom no bigger than each strand of the spiral. 7/26/93

I have started putting together Recipes - sets of directions for some specific glass blowing task, most often construction right now - to fit on a page and following the model of a cookbook including the personal nature of cooking. If you would like to offer something, feel to do so; ask for a sample page if you wish. If you have encountered some interesting color combinations, that would be a recipe.

STATUS - MIKE - I am blowing out of a glory hole made of fire brick that is about 8x8x12" fired with a burner made of 1 1/2" pipe placed in the front lower right corner working from two linked 20# propane tanks and a 12# (high pressure) regulator. I normally place a Corning Ware 15 oz casserole at the back, shielded with small pieces of fire brick with about 2# of cullet. I am blowing a couple of times a week, usually firing up as the shade covers the back yard about 6:30 pm. These days the evening temperature gets down to about 82 by the time I am done. Cost of a session seems to be about $10: $5 for the Corning Ware, $3 for propane and $2 for half a gallon of Gatorade. I have tried many tricks/alternatives, but have yet to get a Corning Ware to survive cooling. I typically get three or four bubbly molten pieces and several pieces pulled and tortured from clear and green bottle glass. I am learning about running the glory hole, which heats up most of the way on a surprisingly low burner setting. 7/28/93

I use CompuServe (73557,3605) as a way of getting at information. I also find it overwhelming - in some areas messages go by so quickly that if you don't sign on often replies to questions get lost. And there are so many areas finding something can be a matter just the right question or noticing something, including in CompuServe magazine - ink to keep track of the electronic age! In any case, there is a section called CRAFTS with a sub-section /Glass/Clay/Ceramics. Based on a quick examination of all messages and the library, glass is mostly stained, some fused. Will keep an eye on it. 7/30/93

It is my habit to take advantage of a free hour in a new town by visiting a museum or hitting a library. I often look at library codes 748 and 666 which are glass. In Longview, Texas, I found a couple of books which I liked and which I also found in the Dallas system. 7/30/93

BOOK - Steuben, Seventy Years of American Glassmaking, Paul N.Perrot, Paul V.Gardner, James S.Plaut, Praeger Publishers, New York, 1974. Catalog of the exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art. 748.29147 P461S Sharply divided between the colored glass of the early (1903-32) Carder years and the clear crystal of the Houghton years (33-73), one of the really nice features of the book is the descriptions include comments on how the pieces were blown and in the case of colored pieces, what chemicals were used. I grew up with Steuben crystal on the shelves and table of my parents' home and still have several pieces. It also, of course, influences what I consider desirable in blown glass. I find a piece with the same handgrip feeling I put in one of my pieces last summer (and expect to put in many more.) I would like to own this book. Out of print. 7/30/93

BOOK - Glass, Philosophy and Method, Hand-Blown Sculptured Colored, John Burton, Chilton Book Company, Philadelphia, 1967. 748 B974g This book does a good job of providing a survey of glass history and working, well beyond the interests of the author, who is a flameworker. Fully half of the book is text, photos and drawings of Burton's work and for a person interested in flameworking seems to me to be far more useful and creative than the more widely available Creative Glass Blowing, Scientific and Ornamental by James E.Hammesfahr & Clair L.Strong, W.H.Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1968 which has clear step by step drawings, but of very simple pieces. The first part of the Burton book is a historical survey with good pictures. This is followed with visits to famous glasshouses, including Kosta and Orrefors and museums. There are (somewhat blurred) pictures of blower Kenneth Wainwright making an air stem goblet and millifiori paperweight. Nothing too exciting but a bit of variety if the book is available. (Dallas does interlibrary loan, Longview apparently does not.) 7/30/93

I would like to know of people involved in glass blowing, glass blowers, even those who only blow part of the year; glass blowing studios; and galleries showing and/or selling blown glass. At a minimum, I will send them a copy of Hot Glass Bits. Beyond that, maybe some coordination, reducing costs, sharing experience. Address or phone number needed. 7/31/93

GOLD - It seemed so simple. I have thought I would like to try blowing glass some time with gold leaf in it, probably adding some leaf to a small bubble, casing it with another gather and blowing. I wanted to know how to get it and have some idea of what it cost. So I got out the Yellow Pages and began asking "Where can I get gold leaf." An hour and a half later, someone answered with a simple "Sure we have it" after about 20 phone calls to people who mostly had no answer and in some cases didn't understand the question. I started with the YP entry on Precious Metals, went to Gold Dealers (one of whom called back after I found a source and thanked me telling them a source), Gold Stamping, and Jewelry (including a major source of findings), then followed suggestions to Framing Galleries, a major Hardware store, Paint Supply, and finally Art Supplies which pointed to Texas Sign Supply [315 N.Walden, Dallas, 214-741-3324] which was, ironically, already in my lists as a supplier of neon stuff. Gold leaf turns out to cost $25 for a booklet of 25 leaves of about 3x3". 8/6/93

GOLD II - Gold leaf is astonishing. I have handled it a couple of times in the past. Touching it with fingers basically destroys a sheet, since it clings and tears. In Thailand, as a male, I applied a small square of leaf inside a temple for my female hosts, who could not enter. The leaf was carried on parchment and adhered by rubbing the wall with garlic first ("It either scares off the devils or acts as glue," she said.) Leaf is 4 to 5 millionths of an inch thick according to the dictionary. An ounce of gold (costing about $390 today and being an inch by an inch by about one eleventh of an inch) is 480 grains; a booklet of 25 leaves weighs 4-5 grains! (See Goldbeating or Gold Leaf in the encyclopedia.) It normally is handled on paddles and with brushes. 8/6/93

CONTROLLER - Flexible controllers for kilns (and lehrs) are priced in the $410 to $600 range for a single controller and $770 to $420 for each kiln with a multiple controller (Digitry, 2 to 5 controlled.) Lately, small controllers for special uses have come on the market for far less cost. Omega Engineering [1-800-TC-OMEGA] has just introduced a $169 CN132 Autotune Temperature Micro Controller that will ramp up (but not down, they say) and hold a temperature having "learned" how quickly the elements and box respond to power. (Add a K type thermocouple, minimum $20, and solid state relay, minimum $15.) Love Controls Corporation [1475 S.Wheeling Rd, Wheeling IL 60090 1-800-828-4588] has introduced the $185 1600 Series controller that can ramp between the current temperature and another lower (as in annealing) or higher. (Also needs thermocouple and SSR.) Neither of these are programmable (set the numbers and use them over and over) and both do their setting through three or four multipurpose buttons which may be awkward to use. I am seriously considering getting one of the Love devices to try out. For $35 extra, the Love unit will hold 4 setpoint temperatures in memory for quick reuse. [Omega apparently has the Love unit as their 76000.] 8/10/93

LEAD - There is real concern for lead in the environment and part of that is concern for the lead that might leach from lead crystal and from colors containing lead. California is licensing vendors to collect fees to police imports and the vendors have to pay to test their own stuff. Copies of articles were passed around at the G.A.S.Conf. I have become concerned about the science in one published first in Glass Researcher and reprinted in Glass Industry. Very few numbers are given and one of the few is 8 parts per million lead in a tumbler when 1 ppm is the FDA standard. But it turns out that this figure (obtained by putting 150 ml of wine in the glass and sloshing in a warm water bath for 41 days) is tainted by evaporation of the alcohol (and water?) through the plastic film covers and by as much as 18% more wetted surface than in the lowest rated glass. I have written for the data backing the report. The topic is important and bad data can hurt us. 8/13/93

GARAGE - Because of some things I like to do with glass, I have long planned on having a garage - a place to put pieces to be later merged with other pieces, held at 1050°F or so. Having worked with 1/4" stainless rods as small punties, I can see a good use for them as color carriers. But I like to use small amounts of color. Color costs about $1 to $3 per inch of rod (although it is priced per kilogram.) SoI am thinking seriously about a garage that allows laying rods and pipes through a sealing edge, with a lid raised inside enough for clearance. Any experience in this area? 8/13/93

ELECTRICAL - If you plug in your lehrs/kilns, periodically feel the plugs. The best time is shortly after the unit is turned on when you are sure the elements are strongly drawing power. If things are okay, the plug and wiring should not feel hot. The most likely problem is corrosion. When the plug is cool (and the power off) pull it and look it over. The prongs should be clean and reasonably shiny; certainly there should be no green crud (that's a scientific term.) Use emery paper, steel wool, and/or copper cleaner on the prongs. But remember the outlet also. Radio Shack sells a contact cleaning stick (like a little emery board) good for 120 AC outlets and a spray can of contact cleaner. TURN THE POWER OFF to the outlet before sticking things in the slots. Some heavy duty outlets have covers that when taken off completely expose the copper inside for easy checking. 8/18/93

SHARP SHARDS - Getting rid of broken glass can be a nuisance and a risk for others. In Dallas our garbage has to go in bags - there is an extra charge for using a garbage can. I have found that our empty 20# dog food bags, plastic lined with tough paper exteriors, are ideal for shoveling broken sharp pieces with out the risk of cutting through to destroy the bag or hurt me or any other handler. 8/18/93

TEFLON - The cost of a yoke to support a pipe at the furnace is $70-90-119 (Steinert & Putsch). The transfer bearing balls used in the yokes can be bought, but Grainger only offers them in boxes of 25 costing $78 or $107. My limited experience suggests the balls are fragile in our use: graphite is needed for lubrication in the heat and grit and heat result in rust and lockups. If found surplus they are likely to be corroded somewhat to start.

I have thought for some time that Teflon would be a good replacement for these bearings. Teflon is both an extremely slippery and high temperature (500°F plus) plastic. It is available in many forms, including sheets thin and thick, and molded forms such as rod or stick. My first encounter with it as a bearing was twenty years ago in theater where blocks were mounted under a thin platform (not enough space for casters) which was rotated until a metal track had received a coating. The platform moved easily with people on it.
I bought some 1/8" Teflon cutoff pieces to try in my glory hole setup. Cadillac Plastics sells them for $6 a pound. While not ideal shape (I would like it thicker), I will cut to match my current sheet steel support and see how it stands up (and works) a foot from the 2000°+ opening of the hole. Of course, I am not working twenty pounds of glass, but if I were, I would want at least 3/4" of support along the pipe. I will report on what happens. 8/20/93

Got a nice long note from Susan I. "Girt" Girten, my classmate at Junction in 92 & 93. She blew for 3 weeks this year with several other former classmates and had a good time. She is in Austin and reports she is running a small gallery in a booth-like setup, Signatures of Austin, 310 Neches, in the Bluebonnet Marketplace.

GATHERING - Girt sends an ad for "A Gathering of Glass" at Sable V Fine Art Gallery [The Courtyard Overlooking Cypress Creek, P.O.Box 1792, Wimberley TX 78676, 512-847-8975] Sept.11 to Oct.6th. This is the gallery of Jay Von Koffler, who blows at Pipe Dreams Glass Blowing Studio outside of town. The Artists Reception is Sept.11 from 6-8 pm with a Glass Blow-Out at Pipe Dreams from 8 pm to ? The ad includes a long and impressive list of artists showing pieces; Girt says Jay doesn't know yet who will be coming to blow. 8/21/93

Bought ingredients for crucible making, per Independent Glassblower, and mixed today. Will let sit to even out moisture and work up some small ones. 8/21/93

Long conversation with Sam Haney on his nickel from Woodville TX (78 miles east of Huntsville, two hours from Houston.) I had written to people in Texas in the G.A.S.91 Directory. He is opening a studio in the next couple of weeks, having finished his furnace and doing the welding on his glory hole. Sam has been around for while, learning in New Orleans and with Hugh Irwin when he had a place here in Dallas. He named three people with studios in Houston and we chatted about what was going on near Dallas. We may meet in Austin at the open house mentioned above. 8/26/93

Flier arrived from The Glass Workshop in Brooklyn, New York [647 Fulton St., 11217-1112, 718-625-3685] on their fall classes. For most people reading this, attendance is impossible. Most are weekly for 12 sessions and cost $380-450 tuition with a $100 lab fee. Topics include Glassblowing, Mold-blown, Neon, Casting, Lampworking, Kiln-fired, etc. Five weekend workshops, two master classes, and four lectures are more likely for non-New Yorkers. Three workshops are Beginner's Weekends in Glassblowing, Neon and Fusing, $250-295 each. Thomas Tisch will do Alternative Cold-Working Techniques in October and Colin Reid will do Kiln-Casting in November (a Sunday-Monday session.) Workshops are limited to 8. Master classes include Sonja Blomdahl on Glassblowing "The Double Bubble" in early October and Dick Marquis and Dante Marioni do "Cane, Murrini, Collaboration" Venetian techniques. Call for details or copy of the flier. The Workshop also produces Glass Magazine, quarterly, $28, back issues $7. Recommended. 8/27/93

REGRET - I regret to announce that I cannot do what I have been doing: blowing glass. I have the word of Sidney Waugh, the great designer for Steuben, in his book, The Making of Fine Glass, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1947, which I found in the Dallas Public Library [666.1 W354M] His exact words are: "It must be emphasized that glass blowing, as described in these pages, is not within the scope of the amateur or of even the most talented artist or craftsman working alone. ... Due to its high temperature in the working state, glass can be manipulated only for a very short time and, as the several parts must be joined at precisely the right moment and at just the proper heat, it is physically impossible for a man working alone to produce and object of any but the simplest character." Remember, this guy designed some of the most elegantly simple glass pieces ever sold. Also remember that he was talking production.

Actually, this book has marvelous shaded drawings of glass blowing tools and the process of creating two pieces, with some photos of pieces and the engraving process. The production pictures do not show people and totally fail to make clear the process of returning to the heat. But it is sad that Bill Gudenrath can't make those goblets, since he works alone. 9/1/93

CORNING NY - Studio Access to Glass [261 North Baker Street, Corning NY 14830, 607-962-3044] has weekday classes at two levels, 10 sessions, 3 hours each, 6:30-9:30, $280; and weekend beginner's samplers, 9-5, two sessions, $200. They are also offering a Marble Weekend, $150, 11/5-11/6, and a Murrini Workshop, $150, dates in spring to be announced. 9/2/93

The 5" diameter by 2" deep clay crucible that I made survived the cooling cycle, which the Corning Ware did not (except once.) I have already started a second set of plaster molds for a deeper one. I followed a set of directions in Independent Glassblower #11, except mine are much smaller than his. I put my comments in a Recipe, which I may include with the issue. I will mention that the clay is incredibly sticky. 9/2/93

If you are looking for an easily available article that includes pictures and some history of the modern glass movement look for the Smithsonian, February, 1992 and the article DALE CHIHULY HAS TURNED ART GLASS INTO A RED-HOT ITEM. The article is mostly about Chihuly, but since he has been involved from the beginning and there are background paragraphs, it has a lot of useful information. 9/2/93

TO BLOW - Having had a sudden rash of light bulbs burning out, it suddenly occurred to me that all these people blowing ornaments and witch balls might have another market by blowing replacement globes for light fixtures. There are three tricky features of a globe: 1) It can't be too thick to avoid cracking from the heat; 2) The punty point is likely to be in plain sight; and 3) The lip must be curved back and exactly sized to fit the fixtures. Most globes are white, but clear with light colors (and a clear bulb inside) and colors on the sides with a clear bottom would serve very well, as on my front porch. With brighter colors they might be sold as party globes. Sell a set of six or eight already wired?
That leads to the decorative idea of lamp chimneys and candle chimneys, both of which are less precise, but may need to fit a commercial base. Color choice is more critical as I discovered when I did hanging candle holders in stained glass and got some truly ugly looking flames. The bottom would have to be ground off or otherwise removed.
Last year at Junction, Dale Battle blew some lovely lamp shades for hanging lamps: wrap color then spin a disk about 16" across and let it droop into waving folds, almost like an old-style southern belle's hat, grind the neck to make the hole for the fixture. 9/3/93

I read a history of glass production in America focusing on the changes in the Toledo area around the turn of the century. One statement I found interesting was that as of 1915 all of the window glass in the US was still made by blowing cylinders, cutting them and flattening in a lehr. [Revolution in Glassmaking, Warren C. Scoville, Harvard University Press, 1948] 9/3/93

FURNACES - Right or Wrong? I would welcome corrections. From my limited experience, the following comments apply to melting glass: There are three ways to melt with gas: aim down from above, aim in from the side above the glass, or wrap flame around a crucible below. The first puts the heat on the glass and puts the greatest strain on the burner head; it must be ceramic (Gibberson) to avoid melting and flakes of iron and carbon falling in the glass. The second may be the best compromise although it involves non-symmetrical construction; Art Allison does it without a blower with high pressure propane. The third requires a free standing crucible, which makes it more fragile, while the others can use an invested crucible or tank. It also means that the heat, being applied through the crucible, must be higher, but it is the only way for a recuperative (one that save exhaust heat in fire brick then heats the incoming air) furnace to work.

A tank is built of fire brick, with high temperature hard brick on the inside so bits don't break off in the glass. It is sealed by the glass leaking between the bricks and solidifying in the cooler regions.

COMPUSERVE - I have been spending a somewhat increased time on CompuServe in the Crafts Forum, section 9, which is Glass/Clay/Ceramics. As you might expect, most of the activity is Clay or Ceramics and most of the Glass is stained, but there is more activity in blowing than I expected. If you have a computer and a modem, you might want to look in. (Startext, in the Hot Glass Bits header box, is a low cost Ft.Worth-based service.) 9/4/93

GALLERY - I went by Kittrell-Riffkind Glassworks [12215 Coit Rd. (Olla Podrida #163) 214-239-7957], which I should do more often. I live east of downtown Dallas and K-R is dead center north at LBJ beyond construction and in an area that is off my usual routes. On the other hand, it seems the best place in Dallas for this gallery to be for the customers needed. I particularly enjoyed several artists.

Josh Bishop had two quite different sets. 12" pieces blown into copper wire twisted to resemble macrame so the glass bulges through the wire. Seemed costly for the size and effect - $2000. His others were many sizes of marbles/weights with a hairy coral reef appearance, which I have to assume comes from murrini made with a lot of clear. He has big and little "earths" with a shallow clear "atmosphere", little being an inch, and big being 4 and 6 inch globes. By far the most spectacular to a blower is a 20"+ disk with a 3" paperweight as its seamless center.
Several people used the same technique: dropping a large pipe gather into a sand mold and then blow the top as a bowl. Mark Gibeau, Dale Leader, and Lorie Hedgmere all have pieces, the first two a pair in virtually the same color. Mark presses 2" heads into the sand, so his bases have faces looking out at us.
Lewis Woodruff does some neat trees inside solid clear, making the trunks and some of the tops of twisted threads, and using bubbles as leaves in others.
Sharon Fugimoto does some gold leaf on black glass that is nice looking and some completely different pieces that are hard to make. I can only describe the latter by asking that you imagine a white bowl with Saran Wrap stretched across the top. Now tilt the bowl to sit at an angle and touch a flame to the wrap below center to make a 3" hole off center. Now make the whole thing of glass. The sharp differentiation between the clear and the white, the off-center base, and the off-center hole in a nearly flat surface make the piece very difficult to do. The pieces are pure art (not useful as vases, bowls, etc.) and I would like them more if they didn't deny usefulness so much.
Kit Karbler and Michael David do some of the most incredible cold working I have seen. The pieces are vase shaped, maybe 12" diameter by 14" tall, with transparent lines and layers of color. Then nearly half the glass is cut completely away, leaving three or four sections of the vase rising from the base like thick fingers from a palm with no glass at all between the sections. 9/7/93

ALUMINUM - I needed a puffer to open up some of my small practice pieces. Puffers are 25, 30 or 50 bucks. I mean, this is not mission critical stuff. Aluminum melts at 660°C (1220°F), easily in the range of glass workers. I had a bunch of aluminum cans. I rolled a cone of paper to the shape I wanted and filled it with plaster of paris. I used that to ram a hole in damp sand. Using one of my infamous Corningware cassaroles, I heated up the glory hole and began passing in the cans. The paint burns. The cans collapse. Aluminum collects below some oxided trash. Use 20-30-40 cans. Pickup the Corningware with pliers and pour in the mold. Plain sand (without clay as in casting sand) leaves a roughish surface. Sand/grind it a bit. File the tip and use 3/16" drill down through the body for the air hole, center as well as possible, but it is not critical. Fitting tubing for blowing is a problem. Soft 3/8" copper tubing (1/2" OD) is most easily available. Fastening it can be epoxy or by drilling and tapping. I used Super Glue.
The clay crucible has survived two cycles. 9/5/93

I traveled to Austin Saturday to see what I could see. The key event was A Gathering of Glass at Sable V in Wimberley TX, but I timed travel to catch Matthew Labarbera at Fire Island and worked to take advantage of what I could find which included meeting with friends from glass blowing class and a paperweight show.
Matthew has been blowing for 13 years and is in his third place (3401 East 4th St.) His studio is now located far east of downtown Austin, next to Craig Freiburger's Armadillo Clay which is pottery supply with some glass related stuff (Craig blew at Junction in 91 and is blowing with Matthew.) His studio is an open sided building which he closes by screwing plywood panels to the posts. After a theft last year, he added 6" rebar mesh fastened inside (as I learned long ago, screws on the outside make security null and void.)
Matt's studio space is convenient for two people to work, two benches, as long as they like each other. It is really a one person studio. A large blower provides air to all his heat sources via 4" PVC. Besides two glory holes, Matt melts glass in four free standing crucibles inside a chest freezer sized box that looks like a tilted front ice cream dispenser with square doors that slide to the side. One door opens on 120 pounds of clear, the other on three smaller crucibles holding 10-20-30 pounds of black, blue, and green. The amount of hot surface the blower faces when gathering is rather overwhelming. He uses an industrial ratio controller so that when he adjusts the air, the gas is changed to match. Matt mixes his own batch.
Matthew has a stainless steel marver and a pipe roller made of the hubs of 4 bicycle wheel hubs. He has a pipe cooler made of a pipe with the side cut out and ends added (so the end view is C or G shaped) with a tube inside the top with holes and a drain. A sump pump in a bucket is on an AC switch. (The most common pipe cooler (that is not a wet rag) is a V shaped box with holes in the bottom, notches on the bottom of the ends to fit the pipe, and a handle across the top. It is sunk in a barrel of water, the pipe laid across, the cooler placed and moved back and forth on the pipe until the water drains out.)

TIL - Matthew says that even a modest lip on the opening of a glory hole reduces the heat loss a lot, forming a wall of heat across the opening. The lip may be as little as an inch or so on a full-sized barrel hole.
Matthew usually blows 4-5 hours a day all year round, doing cold working during the remainder. His style involves, in many cases, a medium black thread wrapped around clear with a color core. He makes perfume bottles, paper weights and "cave weights" which are bigger, flatter and cut away on one side to show innards against an opaque background.

Paperweights - A place called The European Influence [10000 Research Blvd, Suite 143, 512-345-6688, in northwest Austin at the Arboretum] had a short show (3 days) with triple the number of paperweights they normally carry (about 700 in the show) and experts and artists on hand to discuss their work. I found all the glass in the place to be impressive. The weights included ranged from a ridged surface color piece to large, multi-layered, carved, reheated and reworked pieces, including Matthew's pieces. A number of video tapes of weight construction were run and pieces of hardware and cut away weights were on hand. I would expect that even with "only" 230 weights on hand, the shop would be worth a visit and other, blown, glass is nice. The place has a newsletter (#17) with good color shots of eight weights, including one of Matt's that sold immediately on the show opening.

While walking up to the door of Influence, I passed a display window for Artisans with dark glass vases, which made me instantly think that they were Art Allison's. Before I left, I went upstairs to the shop and found that half the glass in the place was Art's. If you haven't seen his work, which is distinctive and are in Austin, take a look.

A Gathering of Glass (featuring a very nice color postcard showing a gather in progress) is a very impressive show (which runs through October 6th) at Sable V (512-847-8975) located in a group of craft/art places in the downtown area of Wimberley TX (pop. 1200) which is 20 miles west of I-35 between Austin and San Antonio or about 35 miles southwest of Austin on 290 (good) and 12 (fast but twisty.) The show is identified as "to benefit the development of Future Visions Cultural Arts Center" and I think several of the artists are represented on that basis, rather than as continuing clients of this gallery, although I failed to ask. It is a very good show. About 45 artists are represented by 80 pieces, ranging from one of Harvey Littleton's early arc pieces ($14,000) to "Passageway" by Melissa Medore that was made last week in Jay Von Koefler's studio when my classmate, Girt, was helping. About half the well known artists are represented by at least one piece, including Dante Marioni, John Littleton, Kate Vogel, Josh Simpson, Marc Peiser, and William Morris.

The Center is to be a well designed site near Wimberley with artists working so visitors, especially children, can see both performance events and working artists. Lessons will be provided in a camp-like environment. Considering that Jay has said HE doesn't really like people looking over his shoulder as he works (on a news broadcast Friday night most recently) finding people who like being watched and extending the concept may be challenging.

Jay von Koffler's Pipe Dreams Glass Blowing Studio is open for visitors evenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, blowing usually starting at dark and often going on until 1-3am. The studio is on RM 12 a couple of miles north of Wimberley up a steep one lane drive. He moved from Prosper (north of Dallas) summer of '92. Three buildings include a cold working space, a gallery in a space that may also be his house and a large industrial/farm building for blowing. The blowing space is very large, perhaps 40x60, with about two-fifths for bleachers and access, one-fifth for storage, and the remainder for the blowing floor. The floor has lots of space around two benches, with a large V-door (two V's make a diamond opening) glory hole, a smaller round glory hole, a free standing pot furnace built of castable in an egg shaped steel shell I understand is available from a company in Seattle and several annealers and kilns. Most of the equipment is built of insulation board (rather than fiber) and pierced steel sheet. Sitting off to one side is a frame and shell for a glory hole that would be four feet in diameter and six feet long.

There is a second studio in Wimberley, Tim de Jong's Wimberley Glass Works and Spoke Hill Gallery (512-847-9348, PO Box 1724, 78676) southeast of town. I didn't get to visit because I found out about at closing time (and would have been too tired to go earlier.) His hours are 10-6 Thurs-Mon.

A "Glass Blowout" Saturday night after the Sable V reception was held at Pipe Dreams. Before I went, I talked with people about what might happen, since "with all visiting artists" made the event depend on who showed up and it was certain that most names on the exhibit list would not be there, so the question was who? At worst it might be Jay doing his performance stuff (hold hands at start, turn the lights off and the sound system up very loud, I brought earplugs) and at best it might be a jazzy symphony with good blowers coming together to make something seriously exciting. What happened wasn't terrible, but.... Jay started a piece by building a huge core of clear glass (6" diameter, about 20" long), laying in some bubbles, and some seaweed color on the surface. While this core was maintained by a couple of other guys, Jay built a fish to adhere to the side and two more were pulled out of an annealer and adhered. Seaweed color was added over the fish (like they were swimming behind it.) Another person was building a fish and lost it. Jay built a fish to put on the top. This fish broke off during the efforts to get the piece off the pipe. As a part of planned "Blowout" for many artists, it thoroughly tied up the floor for over two hours and the most impressive thing about it was the fact it could be held for that long. It would have been much more courteous to blowers, viewers, and helpers if four fish had been in the annealer or three with a fourth being made before the core was started. At least the blowing conditions were moderate - lower sound and lights on.

What helped make the event a bunch of fun is that many of the glass blowers in Texas, especially the Junction crew, were around, and since I didn't blow in Junction this year, it was fun to see them. Dana (from before my time, but from Dallas), myself, Vicky, Dale and Gert from Junction classes, and the Divas from Ft.Worth. I had hoped Sam Haney might come in, but he was couldn't. Dana worked a lot on the pad with Jay, Vickie and Gert also did a lot of assisting and Girt got to blow at the end.

It is recommended that blowers use the equivalent of at least a #4 welding shade for observing a furnace or glory hole. Jay works without eye protection and when his studio is dark, one has to assume that the eye pupil is wide open as he goes to the fire and the iris rapidly cranks shut as the infrared goes pouring in. Most of the others on the floor were wearing goggles. Jay also works barefoot.

During the evening, about five other pieces were worked, including a bowl where the color was wrapped on the pushed and indented surface (thus giving more uneven wrapping) before blowing it out, and a goblet stemmed pitcher where the upper part was a globe with a tall tubular neck. Nothing was done to identify the blowers to the observers.

Among artists I met was Marc Boutte, who has helped a number of people making studios. Marc's pieces on display are flat sided slabs, highly cold worked, of clear glass with surfaces of color in them. The curves play against the flats very nicely.
The tornados that skipped across Dallas yesterday definitely missed Art Allison up near the river. He has shut down to mid-October to remodel his mother's house. He reports that over the last two weekends he has had a couple of hundred people through his place. He is selling a lot including some new pieces he calls modern artifacts. I have a call into Divas Glass, which was much closer to the Cleburne-Mansfield-Arlington line of damage. 9/14/93

The newsletter of the Glass Art Society [1305 4th Ave., Suite 711, Seattle WA 98101, membership $40/yr, $15 student], G.A.S. News, has been upgraded considerably under the volunteer effort of Nelly Bly Cogan. Besides a lot of photographs of the conference, there are two pages of Fellowships, Commissions, Classes, etc. Two pages are reproduced from The Independent Glassblower. The front page says extra copies of the newsletter are available. Membership includes access to the Annual Conference (in Oakland in 94), the Journal reporting on the conference, the News and the Directory of members. 9/14/93

G.A.S. is asking, in the newsletter, whether the conference should become biennial, with the newsletter coming out four times a year and the office acting more as a central clearing house and perhaps G.A.S. might facilitate smaller regional conferences. One suggested advantage of a biennial would be more time to prepare major juried shows at the conference, perhaps of students and graduates. If G.A.S. would be more attractive to you under this change, write to the address above. 9/24/93

While visiting in Austin, Dana talked about wanting some jacks because of sudden opportunities to blow, and calling Jim Moore [Box 30936, Seattle WA 98103, 206-522-6046] to see if he could get some shipped by overnight freight. Moore reported that he was 30 jacks back ordered and couldn't possibly get anything off. Moore is generally considered to do the best jacks made in this country. (The current cost of the best competition - Italian jacks - is about twice Moore's which are $85/100/125 for various sized (8/9/10.5 inch blade) in older metal, $125/140/175 in newer/better steel.) Moore also makes shears, crimps, puffers, paddles and tweezers. 9/16/93

In reading glass history, I am surprised at the number of references to tools for holding glass while it is worked. Apparently production workers do not punty goblets or globes, but use fiber (asbestos back then) covered tools to hold pieces for fire polishing and lip working. I have not seen tools like this in the limited number of studios I have observed. 9/19/93

Henry Halem is the legendary glass blowing teacher at Kent State University (and recent Lifetime Membership Award of the Glass Art Society.) Art Allison, a former student, has recommended his notebook. Well, Halem is publishing it as GLASS NOTES, A Reference for the Glass Artist, $30 + $3 shipping (one copy, less for more), Halem Studios, Inc., 429 Carthage Ave., Kent OH 44240-2303, 216-673-8632, FAX 216-677-2488. He will apparently be doing annual Glass Updates. The promo page says the book ranges from furnace building to casting techniques to lustering and includes a list of supplies and products. Promo material is dated Sept.18, so this is just getting rolling. I will be getting a copy. 9/23/93

Three groups of people get Hot Glass Bits at this point: Those who are mentioned in an issue, those I feel like sending a copy to, and those who have paid some money. The only ones guaranteed to get the next issue are the last group.
If you have paid money there should be a date at the top of the label showing the last payment. A payment of $10 a year helps defray costs and guarantee continued receipt.
40 Artists & 29 DB 80 copies total sent

Prev.Issue 14 Link to HGB Table of Contents Next Issue 16