Hot Glass Bits #11

Contact Mike Firth

March 1993 REPRINT

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TOOL SHOPPING - I started doing some shopping for tools, having gotten my junior glory hole functioning a bit. The prices for some these things are disconcerting. I am looking hardest at diamond shears, since I can't see any way to make'm or fake'm. At this moment I mostly have '91 price lists. Putsch (9.45") $85.50; Steinert (9") $90 (fancier handles) $95; Jim Moore (med) $50 (lg) $80; A.R.T.CO. (9.5") $76 [1993 price]. Not a huge range and diamond shears are a complex shape with manual work. So then I look at jacks. Jim Moore (8/9/10.5") $85/100/130; Steinert (6/9/12" blades) $125/150/175; Putsch (300/400mm 11.8/15.75" overall, various blades) $34.50/41; A.R.T.CO. (12/13/16/18.25" -4.25/2.5/6.25/8.5 blades) $91.25/98.50/103.75/110.75 [fall 92 prices up 13% over spring '89]

TOOL PRICING - Now, my first problem is trying to figure out how jacks, which are basically a bent piece of spring steel with two other pieces of straight steel, admittedly oddly sectioned, can cost more than diamond shears, which require edge grinding and precision smoothing of a complex shape. It seems to me that the primary cost of tools for glass is the labor and overhead for a product that sells at most in the dozens per year. So where does it come in that adding 1" in length adds $15 (Moore), adding 1.5" adds $30 (Moore) or adding 3" adds $25 (Steinert)? Surely I am missing something here. 1/24/93

PILCHUCK Glass School [107 S.Main St.#324, Seattle WA 98104-2580 206-621-8422] announces five 18 day sessions (Sun-Wed) with 25 classes, starting May 23 and ending Sep 1. This year non-juried classes which over subscribe by the deadline of March 15 will be selected by lottery. Ten of the classes are juried. 25% of students are on scholarship. Teaching assistant applications are accepted for about half the classes; TA's get free tuition, room & board and 40% of low cost travel. Session cost is $2020/2340 dorm/cottage for blown glass classes ($210 less for kiln, neon, casting, etc.) Application order also determines priority for housing choice (adding to cost if put in cottage, not dorm.) Usually two classes in each session use the hot shop, with blowing levels being 1) Int. juried & Not Beg. unjuried, 2) Int. & Beg. unjuried, 3) Beg. unjuried, 4) Int. & Adv. juried, 5) 2 juried advanced. Blowing teachers in '93 are Fred Kahl, Pike Powers, Martin Blank, Thomas Farbanish, Laura Donefer, Osamu Noda, Michael Scheimer, Pino Signoretto, Dante Marioni, Lino Tagliapietra, Richard Royal, Oiva Tikka. 1/25/93

KITTRELL-RIFFKIND - I dropped in on Kittrell-Riffkind Glass in Olla Podrita in North Dallas. I especially liked a sculpture that looked like brightly colored cloth bags stacked on each other: absolutely even glass color in each bag, sandblasted or etched for a mat surface, shaped soft and lumpen. I liked some seashells - not hollow but solid - opaque shell colors over clear, the most interesting of which was a nautilus, ground flat to reveal the innerds as the shells cut in half: the ribs in the shell represented by twisting the white opaque surface color into the clear. Jay Von Koefler departs from so of his other stuff (which I don't like much) and has a number of big fish, the mouth being solid like the neck on Bill Bagley's Beasties, lots more clear glass than Bill's pieces, but most of the other techniques - tossed in and melted stringer, frit, and powder - are there. I continue to like Judi Weilbacher's work: heavy clear lumps with cold worked flats and two or three medium bubbles each lined with a transparent darkish color. 1/23/93

WILLIAM MORRIS - The February/March 93 American Craft has a cover and feature on William Morris with many pictures showing his latest works where he uses opaque powders to produce a mat surface to blown pieces so the Artifacts look like bone or pottery. Check it out. Morris is supposed to demo at the G.A.S. meeting in May. 1/28/93

BIRD FEEDERS - One of the side effects of going to Junction is the number of birds outside the house. I bought a hummingbird feeder in Junction both years I was there, after watching the dozens of birds at the dozen or so feeders on campus. Hanging one outside my bedroom window where I could see it, the other outside the kitchen, I found the hooks looked so forlorn in the early winter after the hummers had left that I bought a small-bird feeder and oily sunflower seed to put in it. The red, yellow and tan birds spent so much time squabbling over the four feeding posts, I bought another feeder. They come in twice a day with much chirping and flying about. I am using about five pounds of seed ($1.99) each week. 1/30/93

SESSION - Fired up the glory hole again, after adding more clamps and a holder for the burner. Had the lehr up to heat and grabbed a couple of bottles to squish, twist and (in one case) inflate a bit on the pipe. Worked fairly well, although I failed to reheat so had crunchy, not smooth, surface. 1/30/93

MARVER - Made a marver. Cut a plate of 1/8" steel and welded angle to make it more rigid and give a place to bolt supports. Ground off the rust and slag and oiled it to wait until I can use it. Need to make/buy some tools. 2/1/93

RAIN - All my equipment is covered with plastic as it is raining again. If this year repeats the last two we will have consider redefining the arid status of Texas. In my backyard last month we had about average rain for January. In the last 24 hours, we had the average rain for February. 2/4/93

TOOL PRICES - Got some new price lists. Jim Moore [Tools for Glass, Box 30936, Seattle WA 98103 206-522-6046] has priced his jacks with some new steel as well as the old. For small/medium/large the old steel costs $85/100/125 while the new is $125/140/175, or 47%/40%/40% higher. [table at bottom of GL-OUTLIN] Putsch is still using 3/1/91 prices: $85.50 for diamond shears, $31.50/38.75 for shears, $80.50 for 16mm OD pipe with 20 mm heads.

THE INDEPENDENT GLASSBLOWER for Sep/Oct/Nov 92 arrived. Feature article is on iridizing glass and all the steps and practice needed. 2/8/93

HXTAL EPOXY - Received a flier from Conservation Materials Ltd. [P.O.Box 2884, Sparks NV 98432 702-331-0582 FAX:702-331-0588 Doug Adams] offering a discount on the smallest package of their HXTAL Epoxy Adhesive. Normally, a 150 gm (5+oz.) kit is $53.24 + shipping. This offer is the same kit for $40 including UPS shipping, in the USA only. HXTAL is described as a non-yellowing, slow cure adhesive for glass workers first developed for museum conservation. The flier mentions several uses of the product and more descriptive material is included in the offer. At Kittrell-Riffkind Art Gallery are several pieces probably assembled with this stuff, including one that could only have been made with it or a clone: a sphere of glass containing rectangular pieces of dychroic glass that would have sagged or lost color if it were heated; careful examination shows the slight refractions where the sphere pieces were assembled and then (presumably) ground and polished.) 2/10/93

PROPANE PROBLEMS - The last time I ran up the glory hole, I ended up with the bottom of my 20 pound propane bottle covered with frost an eighth of an inch thick. It probably explains why the flame has been turning yellow after a while: loss of pressure due to freezing of the gas. There is a limit to how big a fraction of a bottle of propane/butane can be taken out per minute. The solution is to get a bigger bottle or to manifold bottles together. Standard 20# bottles are so cheap at Home Depot ($14.96) that it is hard to justify buying a 40# ($58.50) or 60# ($75) at the butane place although the smaller bottles require a manifold whose cost I haven't researched yet. I look at the weight and bulk of a 100# and strain a muscle thinking about it. 2/12/93 The manifold pieces are a special T with a valve in it to balance the bottles ($3.95) and a short hose with fittings ($6.95 for each bottle.) So the cost of manifolding two bottles is about the cost of a 20# bottle. Since the Home Depot price for 20# bottles is so low, I can get 60# of capacity for far enough under the price of a 40# bottle to pay for much of the manifold cost. Handling the manifolded bottles is more awkward; handling the individual bottles is easier. 2/13/93

THREE SESSIONS - I have fired the glory hole up three times on the current bottle taking it to about 1800°F. I have a quarter bottle left, so running it up cost a couple of bucks ($6.60 refill) 2/12/93

HAYSTACK - Got the flier for Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (P.O.Box 518, Deer Isle, Maine 04627-0518 207-348-2306] Three of their six sessions include one glass class each. In #2, June 20-July 2 (2 weeks), Ruth King will work with intermediate and advanced students: "Anything Hot will involve a dialogue between blown forms and some of the sculptural concepts inherent in the dynamics of hot glass working.... ...exploring these ideas in non-traditional personally meaningful ways." In #3, July 4-23 (3 weeks), Tom Farbanish and Dimitri Michaelides with experienced glass workers only (submitting slides) "using primarily off-hand blowing, ... will explore the process of designing and creating ... and understanding historical precedents." During week 2, Lino Tagliapietra will be guest artist. In #4, July 25-31 (1 week), Michael Aschenbrenner will work with all levels to "create work reflective of social and political content." !!! Session cost depends on accommodation. A triple near a central washroom is $175/310/460 for 1/2/3 weeks, while a twin with bath is a bit less than twice as high, a single with bath is almost three times as high and limited dorm space is somewhat less. There is a weekly shop fee of about $125 for glass and tuition is $260/420/550 with a $25 application fee. So, for a person going from Dallas for the two week session, the cost would be $310+175+175+420+25 plus about $485 to get there and back, totalling $1590.
Applications received before April 25 will be held and students assigned to places then. Later applications will be considered up to day classes start, depending on space available. Scholarships are available with a deadline of March 25. While other classes use Tech.Asst./Monitor's, all the glass instructors will use their own people. The other assistance is Work/Study not to exceed 3 hours work a day, covering tuition only for people with financial need. 2/13/93

WET CERAMIC FIBER - Ceramic fiber seems outstandingly tenacious in holding water; more than most materials I have encountered. I have some extra Fibrefrax from making my lehr and I left a bag holding it where it got wet. I took the soggy pieces out and stood them on edge. They remained heavy and wet for days, neither draining (as plastic foam will) nor drying. 2/14/93

TONGS AT HOME - I made a set of tongs from 1/4" stainless rod, simply bending it to a convenient bobbypin shape and hand size then flattening and cutting the ends to match. While cheap, and serving the need for pulling with soft enough glass, the shape provides virtually no control while twisting. 2/14/93

A.R.T.CO - Well, I am sending off an entry to the A.R.T.CO tool contest. A kind of heavy duty tweaser I think I would like to use. May turn out like an article I got published on using microcomputers to forecast weather before I owned one, back in '76: a harbinger of things to come. 2/22/93

GLASTAR - Got a call and material from Glastar, [20724 Marilla St. Chatsworth CA 91311, 800-423-5635] a company which makes grinding and polishing equipment, mostly in the past to beveling places, now trying for more sales to glass blowing. The call came because I have rejoined G.A.S. and they were asking what I was doing. You know the answer to that. While talking he glanced through the list he had, up to the M's, and found exactly two people in Texas on the list. They are offering a discount to G.A.S. members and going to the convention. 2/22/93

CASTABLE PRICES - Called A.P.Green for some prices on insulating castables, to see if I wanted a bag to learn with. The price on the Kast-O-Lite 30 (3000°F) which I had on file as $39 is now $54.31. Don't know how old the previous figure was as I neglected to date it, but 2.5 years is probably right. KOL 25 Plus (which fires faster than not Plus) is $47.43. Each price is for 100# bags, 84/81 #/cu.ft. so the 30 is about 40% more costly than G-26 Insulating Fire Brick. 2/23/93

AQUARIUM - Bought a small (3 gallon) aquarium at Kmart. Will put some small fish in it, tetras. I want to try making some glass "reefs", maybe some underwater mobiles, some tubing based aquariums and, later with more blowing capacity, some "interesting" aquarium shapes. 2/28/93

TEXAS GLASS SHOW - Got a call today about a Glass Show for Texans only to open May 28th. Looking for people now, to get contracts signed in March so a practical deadline for submission is March 15-20. If you are from Texas and are interested, send slides and resume‚ to Letitia Alston, Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, Local Color Gallery [310 University Dr. East, College Station TX, 77840, 409-268-2787] The gallery does about 8 shows a year. I thank Judy Youens for the referral. 3/1/93

GLASS IN GALLERY - Dropped in on Rebecca-Patrick Gallery [4539 Travis St., Dallas, TX 75205] because they represent the only other people I know of doing glass blowing in the area, Brad Abrams, Luis Collie, and Sandra Collie as Texas Hot Shop, who are not listed in the phone book [got their names from Dallas Morning News article from last August.] Most of the stuff in the gallery is by Luis Collie with some by Brad Adams. Some is a bit awkward in execution while most is rather nice. Colors are rather pale and thready and, especially the paperweights with threads around cores which are bent and shaped, leave a mild impression of Victorian business. I hope to have one of them call me to start contact and maybe share some blowing time. 3/3/93 Keeping in Touch

GLASS Magazine, New York Experimental Glass Workshop, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 10011, $28 yr for 4 issues, glossy art style magazine.

Independent Glass Blower, % Gruenig Glass Works, Main St., W.Barnet, VT 05821, $25 yr for 4 issues, technically oriented newsletter.

American Craft, 72 Spring St, New York NY 10012, widely available at libraries, glossy art magazine covering all crafts, but usually including glass, especially ads, show reviews and show notices in back.

Started 1/24/93 22 Artists & 14 DB 40 total sent 3/6/93

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