Hot Glass Bits #10

Contact Mike Firth

January 1993 (REPRINT)

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GAS CONFERENCE - I was a Glass Art Society member in 91 and skipped for 92 [G.A.S. 1305 Fourth Ave., Suite 711, Seattle WA 98101-2401, $40 check, Visa or MC, for calendar year - pay after Jan.1 for 93]. To get me back, they sent a copy of the News for October 92 and it is a lot better than previous issues, actually having some pictures and bits and pieces of information. The '93 Conference is in Toledo, Ohio; '94 in Oakland CA "70 artists in immediate Bay Area"; '95 in the Ashland/Penland NC area. Toledo's Museum of Art has 7,000 pieces of glass and was the site of early (62) glass working workshops. Michigan Glass Month is being extended beyond the usual end in April and companies and schools will be doing things. 11/19/92

MONA - The Museum of Neon Art (MONA, 704 Traction Ave., Los Angeles CA 90013-1814) is getting a display space in CityWalk, a part of Universal City. 11/20/92

JUNCTION 93 - The Summer 93 schedule for Texas Tech Center at Junction arrived (early because of high school non-glass activities in Feb.) Bob Mosier is teaching Beginning Glassblowing at the end of July (7/25-8/6) while Bill Bagley is doing Intermediate/Advanced in June (6-25, which is three weeks, two weeks minimum registration required.) Costs are up from last year, room and board remain at $77.50/87.50 per week (plus tax), but tuition for resident/non-resident was $94.70/300.70 per 2 weeks (2 sem.hrs) goes to $114.70/388.70. (plus $25 application fee the first time.) Pre-registration by Feb. is suggested. [TTU Center at Junction, Betty Street, Dept.of Art, Box 42081, Texas Tech Univ.,Lubbock TX 79049-2081 -Until May 8, 806-742-3027, FAX:806-742-3878] 11/23/92 [For non-Texans getting HBits, Junction is in the Hill Country, straight west of Austin, on I-10. TTU Center is a summer camp like site next to a river at which classes are offered, mostly for continuing education of high school art teachers. Famous for hummingbirds and kites, '93 classes will also include ceramics, drawing, photography, print making, textile design, papermaking, ring casting, and several more. Weather is very hot and dry; attitude relaxed. Weekends off with no food served Fri.eve to Sun.noon.] [I will not be in Junction in '93 as I suggested I might not in HotBits9. As I write these words, 1/22/93, I am not sure if I will be able to go to Toledo, since my wife will be getting a new Seeing Eye dog in the same time frame, but if not, the money will go to tools.]

SUN GALLERIES - Lovely two sided color sheet received from Sun Galleries Limited [201 N.Front St. P.O.Box 2207, Wilmington NC 28402 919-762-0065, 1-800-325-4880 FAX 919-762-4942] promoting their "Fine European Art-Glass", "Lamp-Blown" and "Oven-Blown" as they call it (Flame worked and blown in my terminology.) Some of the color uses and shapes are interesting, including millefiori blown into globular oil lamps and ornaments, and fish. Also interesting are bells, Murano glass candy (looking like hard candy twisted in cellophane), slender stemmed holders for stubby candles, perfume bottles, and fluid-filled glass tubing thermometer based on principles of Galileo in which different weighted spheres float high or low in a tube depending on temperature. Price examples are: small (6 cm) candies $8, medium (15 cm) $40; small thermometer $99, large $245; perfume bottles 6-15 cm, $24-58, Stanislaw Borowski bottle $199; bell ornaments $29; candle holders $26. 12/2/92

DALLAS GLASS - I am muttering, via mail, to a number of people about finding people in the Dallas who might want share efforts to have a place and build equipment to blow and finish glass. 12/4/92

COLD WORKING - I am looking for information on cold working glass. I am not finding anything in book form. I am about ready to start bugging glass beveling places to learn more about the steps between the grinding I learned in Junction and the clear polished finish I see on heavily cut pieces like Judi Weilbacher and Jay von Koefler. Suggestions welcome. 12/4/92

GRINDER GRIT - I got a pound each of 320 ($5.70) and 600 ($9.50) grit from Wale Apparatus Co. (400 Front St. P.O.Box D, Hellertown PA 18055 1-800-444-WALE) having previously bought 220 ($4.15) and used it. It is possible to get the coarser grits locally for a lot less (like $1-2) in much larger quantities (25 or 50 pounds) from supply places for window people. Grits over 320 are harder to find. After my experience with the 220, I decided to put the new ones in small plastic soda pop bottles. Wale ships the grit in two plastic bags, one inside the other, each taped. The bags are floppy, hard to handle easily, and leak. I decided to use the 20 oz bottles, since the 600 grit looked so fluffy it might not fit in a 16 oz. I am still not sure, having poured it, whether it would fit in a 16, while the 320 grit would easily. The 600 is like gritty powdered sugar; it gets on everything and sticks to itself. I used a spoon handle to vibrate and stir it through the funnel. Pour the finest grit first, so the coarser does not mix into the finer. Everything must be bone dry, so it is impractical to wash equipment between batches. 12/8/92

USED STEEL -I wandered out to Garland Steel, the only used steel place around that admits to having any stainless around. Selection was limited, so I ended getting only a four foot quarter inch rod and a ten foot tube with 17/32" OD and 1/16" walls. Cost $12. Most of the stock was much bigger. I forgot to ask about new stock. (The best local stainless supply company has a $150 minimum.) 12/12/92 [I found a brochure for Trident, where I bought aluminum several years ago and discovered they have stainless and a $25 minimum. 1/22/93]

FIRE BRICK - I picked up my Christmas present, a box of 2600° insulating fire brick plus eight high duty regular fire bricks. A couple hours passed and I gave into temptation and stacked the glory hole (in the garage) I had planned (about 9" tall by 8" wide by 10" deep) and fired it up enough to melt some bottle glass into a clay bowl form (1700°) but not enough to pick any up. I chickened out and shut down and will tighten fittings, add some angle iron framing and make some size decisions before going again. Wheeee!! 12/14/92

A.R.T.CO [348 N. 15th Street, San Jose CA 95112, 408-288-7978] has their new catalog out. In addition to tools, pipes and cherry wood stuff, they have added Cratex abrasives and Kelvar gloves ($25-93) which have separate catalogs, though the prices are on a common list. They are running a "Design Your Dream Tool" contest with Essemce, the tool maker in Sweden. First prize is to have Essemce make the tool, 2nd & 3rd are A.R.T.CO gift certificates. They get to keep all submissions. Deadline is 28 Feb 93. 12/15/92

WELDING SET - I own a welding/cutting set, either by chance, by the grace of God, or by being a good guy. I have been shopping for one for months, finding that the fittings cost about $200 and the tanks about the same unless rented, when they are only available larger size awkward to handle. I have been helping a co-worker of my wife, a blind widow, deal with the problems of her new trailer and tools her husband left behind. She mentioned she had some welding stuff, part of which turned out to a Victor portable unit that I think will be ideal, so I bought it for $125. I have a long list of things, about half of which are frames and supports for glass related stuff. 12/20/92

Gas welding and cutting is such great fun I have decided the firebrick is a late birthday present, while the torch is my Christmas present. If I wasn't already addicted to glass blowing and the beauty of the product, I could really get hooked on torch welding. I have done arc welding in the past and the difference is amazing. Striking an arc is like firing up an outboard motor on a crowded lake -- noisy, instantly dangerous, immediate movement -- while torch welding is more like taking to a canoe on a north woods lake -- it requires attention and can be dangerous, but the overall situation is quiet and things develop at controlled pace. Love it. I am in the midst of cutting and welding a tray to catch cutting sparks and glass drippings and to practice. Probably overheating and burning, but learning. 12/27/92

GARDENS ON TV - A perfectly lovely television show, "Dream Window", on Japanese gardens, shown on our local PBS (KERA 13) Monday night, December 28, 7 pm. Shown letter boxed (wide with black bars above and below), beautifully photographed and scored. If given a notice of it being on again, I would get in front of the biggest screen tv I could find, but vivid in color with stereo earphones. Narrative is translations of various garden architects, poets and musicians about what a garden is and does. 12/28/92 I video taped the repeat. 12/30/92

CGCA 93 - Glass Weekend '93 is announced in an ad in Glass magazine by Creative Glass Center of America [Denise Dendrinos, CGCA Program Coordinator, 1501 Glasstown Rd., Millville NJ 08332-1566, 609-825-6800] for June 11-13 with 22 galleries showing work of over 200 artists, demos by William Morris, with lectures, panels, etc. The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass and The Corning Museum of Glass are also sponsors. 1/10/93

GALLE GLASS BOOK - I encountered a book, Glass by Galle, by Alastair Duncan & Georges de Bartha, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York 1984. [ISBN 0-8109-0986-3 NK5198.G27D86 748.294 84-385 Brookhaven College Library] Galle worked in France from about 1865 to his death in 1904, being quite successful, and his firm continued, diminishing in quality, until 1931, by which time his designs were quite dated. Many have a cluttered active look of a Victorian planting. The book has 357 illustrations, 97 color, and moderate amounts of unrelated text on the production of glass. Pictures vary in quality, the color ones are excellent (from auction catalogs the book says), the black and white good to poor. The index is terrible and almost none of pieces are identified as to museum holding or owner.

The variety of the man's work is immense. He seems to have used almost every technique that can be applied to blown glass, with a stress on engraving multi-layered pieces. He developed or used techniques that spotted color in the glass, that made glass look much like gemstone (jade, etc.) and created images where the wings of a dragon fly or fins of an exotic fish recede at their edges into the thickness of the glass. He made lamps with matching bases and all glass "shades" of quite substantial size. Techniques mentioned and shown include engraved, acid etched, enamelled, applied pieces, intercalaire, marquetry, patina, and mould blowing.

With so much variety, it is not difficult to find something interesting. I very much like a vase shape that can best be described as well proportioned fish standing on its tail in a donut. The thick base anchors the narrow waist just above it and balances the swelling further up. Besides the symmetrical vases of the design that appear several places in the book, my favorite is on page 48 with a "fish-mouth" top with a marvelous clear loop handle that changes into a squiggle of a hot bit running across the body. (ca 33, 39, 60, 65, 92, 108 and the back cover.) Amazing as glasswork, although I don't love it, is a vase looking much like polished red stone with a limp flowing glass orchid growing on the side (p.76) He made more use of opaque color than I prefer, for usually calculated, but sometimes random effect - the coupe on page 88 has a base that seems to grow out of the streaks in the glass. On page 116 are two deeply engraved items looking different from anything before or after. The vase on 189, the brush holder on page 61, the blue vase on 65, and the vase on 105 catch the eye for shape and color combination. The odd looking coupe on page 73 sold for $100,000 in the 70's according to a note in the back. 1/15/93

GLASS IN DALLAS - I sat down at a computer terminal in the library and put in "glass blowing" for the Dallas Morning News article database. I found an article from last August on a group of three calling themselves Texas Hot Shop and working in Oak Cliff. That name and the names of the people, Luis and Sandra Collie and Brad Abrams, are not in the phone book. Their galleries are given and I may try to track them. They are the only people I know of blowing in Dallas. 1/15/93

GLORY HOLE FRAME - I finished welding up a stand to hold a 16x16x4 concrete block about 20" off the ground. On the block I will build the insulating fire brick glory hole now in the garage. The frame is scrap bed frame metal, very hard. The stand is a fair example of a guy just learning welding, starting with a poorly cut and bent angle frame that should have been bent on a surface instead of freehand. I think the adjustments I made as I went along even out the oddnesses. I have to make a rain shelter before I can assemble the brick. When it hasn't been raining it has been very cold. 1/16/93

FIRST BUBBLE - We got two days of good weather and I blew a bubble! Yesterday, I assembled the insulating fire brick outside and braced it with some angle and threaded rod. I tried using the burner, but was clearly getting blowback and bad burning while never getting the temperature above 1000. I looked at using the blower stuff I have, which isn't very good and then turned my memory to the kilns I have seen using unblown burners like the one I have ($33.50, 78000 Btu, Seattle Pottery Supply) and all were outside the cavity, burning into a hole, instead of set in the hole as I had done (as blown burners are at Junction.) So I did it and it worked! I also opened a slot in the back for some venting.

Instead of the slow climb of yesterday, the temperature rose very rapidly. I had a clay bowl shape with scrap and a whole bottle, which quickly sagged. I began playing with the 1/4" stainless rod as the glass got gooey (about 1700°F) and used my 1/2" stainless tube when I thought I could (about 1750), worked it up in the flame, marvered it on a handy, rusty, plate and blew a bubble that finally reached about 1.5 inches, looking trashy of course. Since I had no lehr running, etc., I took a picture and let it cool and break. 1/22/93 [After I had written the stuff below, I fired it up again, and blew a 2" ball, which I am trying to save in the glory hole as it cools. Ugly glass, chips, stones, but first saved, maybe.10:07pm]

What next? Well, cut a steel plate for a marver from the sheet I have, clean it and make a frame, probably with arms to hold a pipe, since I want to try a standing work station. I need at least one pulling/twisting tool - tweezers or diamond shears - buy it, make it or fake it. I need some crucibles or crucible shapes in clay. And I need to get the temperature higher. 1/22/93

Lets get this thing off. I have been waiting (somewhat) in sending this out, hoping I could get the glory hole working.

Great Hot Glass in 93!

Started 11/19/92 Para spacing in format 47 copies needed 1/19/93, Concluded, copied, 1/24/93

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