Hot Glass Bits #12

Contact Mike Firth

April 1993 [REPRINT]

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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, so be it.

GLASS LINE - Got a copy of Glass Line [P.O.Box 847, Huntington Beach CA 92648 1-714-969-0240] which covers what I call Flameworking: working glass tubing and rod by holding the ends of them in a torch flame while the length remains cold. Cost is $25 a year for 6 issues; single copies are $6 (plus $1 shipping/ handling for non-subscribers.) More than half the page area is ads; 12 pages. Classified ads, a BBS, and cross reference index are available. 3/5/93

PROPANE TANK DATING - It turns out that older propane bottles have to be recertified every ten years; there is a date stamped on the collar. I got caught when I tried to refill my older bottle to use with the new one and the manifold I bought. Now, I have had this bottle refilled about a dozen times since I bought it and have never been stopped before, so there is an element of chance involved. BUT ... the date I wrote on the bottle when I bought it was 9/1/70 and I have never had it checked and the only thing that looks like a date on it seems to be 8 53! Recertification turns out to only cost $5 and take about an hour, but the bottle has got to be clean and evenly painted. Mine is rusted and needs to be scraped, brushed, stripped and repainted before it can be tested; so I spent sixteen bucks for a second new bottle.

SESSION - Fired up the glory hole on two tanks and got it up to 1930°F. It was actually hotter with the door open than with it closed, which suggests the vent stack is too small and the extra air from the front door is doing more complete burning. The thermocouple was at a point below and beside the flame and, judging by the brightness, other parts of the hole were hotter. I am going to have to rearrange the front as I am feeling confined by the 4.5" opening of a single brick and will free up the other to have a square opening of about 8". I worked some molten (taffy-like to be precise), some melted and smunched bottles and did a couple of things with whole bottles, sealing (or trying to seal) the blow pipe to the bottle neck then inflating them, etc. 3/6/93

CRUCIBLE SUBSTITUTES - Although I left it out of HB11, back in February I put a small Corelle bowl in the glory hole and watched it sag at about 1825. Today, I put a small Corning Ware casserole in the glory hole and worked melted bottle glass out of it. It remained rigid even when hit by the direct flame. I used a round casserole, about 4" wide by 1.5" tall that cost about $4 at Kmart. Corelle is the white dinnerware -- bowls, plates, etc. -- fairly thin. Corning Ware is the white cooking stuff -- casseroles, baking pans, etc. -- heavier. Both are based on the space materials technology, as I understand it, with Corning being purer ceramic and Corelle mixed with glass. 3/6/93 Followup: The Casserole did not survive cooling, having neatly (and sharply my bandaide reminds me) cracked at the level of the hardening glass in the bowl. I now recall directions in one of my readings about removing all the glass before cooling; better to learn the lesson now. 3/7/93

GAS TOLEDO - Got the material for the G.A.S. Conference in Toledo May 5-9. Registration cost is $175/$200/$225 -Mar.25/Mar.26-May 5/May 6, plus additional charges for certain events and membership ($40) is required. Conference activities, other than a technical display area and plant tours, start Thursday evening, the 6th. There are workshops before and after Conf. dates, including casting, lampworked, "The B Team", and long and short hot glass technique session. Friday night there is a $30 trip to Detroit for the opening of "Dale Chihuly-Installations" and Habatat Galleries Glass Invitational. One pre-conf.workshop is priced at $300, another has no price given. [G.A.S. 1305 Fourth Ave., Suite 711, Seattle WA 98101-2401] 3/6/93

PAOLI - Got pages from Paoli Clay Company on their glass blowing tools (they also have clay, obviously.) '93 prices are fairly good. Jacks ($55) are a bit more than Putch but about half the other competitors. Diamond shears ($80) are about equal. Only one pipe - 5/8"OD 1" tip - low end price $80, $85 with grip/collar. Solid puntle rod is low end ($20-1/2", $25-5/8") Hollow puntle ($65) are about mid-range. 3/8/93

TEXAS HOT GLASS - Called Luis Collie, who is one of three people blowing as Texas Hot Shop mentioned in a Dallas Morning News article last August. Had a brief conversation, as he had people there. He has been running a small ad on the back of the Dallas Observer to teach glass blowing and says he is getting good response. He will be charging $200 for 20 hours of instruction spread over a month. He will be taking 4 people per month for classes and will have an open house on 3 April for those taking. He is willing to rent time in the studio for something in the area $10-15 per hour, hasn't set exact amount. He has a 125# tank, 2 glory holes, 2 benches, uses Gabbert Cullet. 3/8/93

BILL BAGLEY - Talked with Bill Bagley. He has switched from 87 coefficient to 83 on Spruce Pine batch and is getting a lot fewer incompatibilities with colors. He has a show at Ty's college and has picked up a gallery in New Orleans as well as the ones in Vegas and the northwest. 3/14/93

B-TEAM WORKSHOP - Got a call from the pre-Conference Workshop with the "B" Team at Bowling Green and found the cost is going to be only in the neighborhood of $75-100, much less than the $300 competition, Peter Novotny at the Center for Creative Studies. Makes it very tempting. Bowling Green has a new center, with six furnaces and ten or more lehrs, and is eager to show it off. 3/15/93

WELDING - Spent some time welding on frames for glass working. Redid a pipe support with shield that I tacked earlier as I ran out of gas. Liked working with the shield right at the support. Have welded up the sides of a standup "bench", [work station?, working stand?] I have considered the style since seeing a picture pointing up such a stand in an old shop. A further push came from the relatively cool glory hole - I don't have time to sit and stand. When I was working alone at Junction about half the things done sitting with an assistant were more easily done standing, even on the low bench. Another push is the pain in my lower back which is aggravated by getting up and down. 3/26/93

ART ALLISON FOUND - I habitually wander into libraries and museums when I get near them. Found a new glassblower (to me) in the area during a visit to the Farmer's Branch library, which has a small exhibit hall. Art Allison has a studio in Pottsboro, Texas, a town of under 1,000 population way north of DFW at the Red River. While a few medium sized (10" tall) pieces were displayed, most were small and very small, showing superb control of thin glass with finely formed lips. Many of the pieces were small vase shapes and many were flashed with metal salts. 3/26/93

I called Art Allison to get his mailing address and had a good chat when he called back. He tells me he was trained at Kent State and has been blowing for 14 years, the last three in Texas after moving here from Wyoming. He blows from 10-5 Wednesday through Sunday (except in storms, which - along with his tone of voice - suggests the building leaks) and his place is open to the public. He says he has stuff in about 20 galleries around the country. I will try to visit, but it is 90 miles in a direction I usually don't go. I may be able to stop off at the end of my May trip. 3/26/93

EQUIPMENT BUILDING - I did a bunch of welding and cutting today while the weather was nice. Also added counter-balance to lehr lid for ease of access, requiring slight rebuilding of wooden cart it's on. A day or two ago flame went out and I looked at gauges to find acetylene was out, but oxygen half full, so just swapped the one bottle. Ended today with the ox empty. I may have wasted some money by swapping both bottles earlier without noticing if both were down. Cut and welded a heavy box to act as base for pipe support and to hold ends of hot pipes and puntles. 3/27/93 Tonight I was reviewing the welding books I have to notice what I am doing wrong that contributes to ragged edge on cuts and welds with burn thrus on some spots. I find that I have been using far too little pressure for oxygen on cuts (like 8 or 10 when it should be 20-25 psi) and twice too much pressure on welding while apparently using slightly too big a tip. 3/28/93

TOOL BUGS - I was reminded today that anything hollow, in this case stainless tubing, needs to be checked every time it is used if it is stored outside (or in a buggy storage area such as my garage.) When I did a test blow, air seemed to be flowing, if not easily, but when I looked down the tube it was dark. I used water to blast the cobwebbed plug and got a glorious shiny view. 3/29/93

GLASS ART - Received a copy of GLASS ART, The Magazine for Stained and Decorative Glass, (P.O.Box 260377, Highlands Ranch CO 80126-0377 303-791-7739, a new address by the way. $24/yr, $38/2 yr, $48/3 yr.) It is a bimonthly magazine, 44 pages in this issue. From the title it is obvious that blown glass is not a major feature, although the method of blowing glass beads is described in detail in one article. Other articles include an interview and one on Restoration with columns on Sandblasting and Fusing problems and a fairly extensive letters column. There are a great many ads. 3/31/93

PILCHUCK has sent out a cute fund raising package modeled after the Publishers Clearing House, where in you can non-subscribe to non-magazines, each magazine represented by a stamp, with glue on the back, imprinted with a donation from $50 to $2500. Twelve different magazines are shown as covers, ranging from Ladler's Home Journal "Hot New Equipment" GBQ Glassblower's Quarterly "Glass Fashion extra" and, of course, National Inspirer, "Elvis found sleeping in kiln", "Man's family turned to glass!", and "UFOs Land in Stanwood". 3/31/93

BLOWER/GRAINGER - I bought a blower ($40 at Grainger) matching the specs given by Giberson. Plumbed it via some old adapters laying around to the injector/pipe-T I built a while back and fired up the glory hole before the rain moved in. Came up to heat a lot faster and got over 2000 for the first time at a lower fuel setting. I didn't take the time to fine tune things, just worked some glass, much softer than before, got a nice globe and necked the globe for the first time. 4/3/93

TEXAS HOT SHOP - I went to visit Texas Hot Shop, Luis Collie's place just south of downtown. He has a very spacious building and very nicely built equipment that he has done himself. He has a slide front annealer/kiln about 18x18x24; spring-loaded, parallel lever lid unit about 40x40x20; and a sliding lid unit about the same size he uses mostly for casting. He has a very substantial crucible furnace and a glory hole he runs very hot. He said several times that he is not primarily a glass blower. He has done sculpture and some large glass casting. His technique was very good in handling the glass, but his pieces did not show a strong artistic through line, which matches his statements. One theme was cast female figures, dusted in color and encased in clear class. He likes building equipment and expects to next make a continuous furnace. He wants to get people in and blowing and share with visitors. He got his training at the Cleveland Institute of Art, works elsewhere during the day and has been using the building for about two years, although he grew up around as his mother leased it for years. 4/3/93

Collie has two glory hole arrangements that are the extremes. On the hole in use, he simply draped a piece of blanket over the end of a rod and leaned the rod against the top of the opening. Another hole in the shop had four doors in overlaid pairs with triangular cuts of different sizes to produce diamond shaped openings. The outer doors (hinged on the inner set) have 4" and 6" triangles, the second set 8" and 10" and with all doors open the hole is about 14" inside. 4/3/93

MORE ALLISON - Afterward, I drove up to Ten of Arts gallery in Carrollton to visit with Art Allison and see more of his stuff. The place is a small neat two story shop for many decorative items in the Old Downtown area that has other shops and eating places. I mentioned (above) the precision of Art's small glass, which turned out to be much heavier when I handled it (and more stable) than it looked. Most of his current work is a dark (black or purple) background to "silver, bismuth and tin" glossy accents. Many of his pieces have controlled spiral lines of color typically making about a quarter of a turn. He is also making some fused jewelry (which he says has too much hand work due to the paper he fuses on) that is quite different from his vases, clear and colors lightly used. A few vases were shown that were all clear with a few lines of color. All his stuff shows a good color sense and I like it even when I wouldn't make anything like it. He clearly blows in runs, to carry out ideas several times with related variations to supply his twenty galleries. He blows alone, without employees, and says he wants to stay out of the way of people learning to blow in the DFW area, so he refers people to each other. 4/3/93

Ten of Arts is also carrying glass from Poland that supports almost mechanically perfect white candle cups and spherical bowls on a few long looping tendrils of clear and colored glass. 4/3/93

DIVAS GLASS ART - I wandered over to Divas Glass, south of Ft. Worth (1-817-293-0190, 1100 E. Rendon-Crowley Rd. Building #7, Burleson TX 76028. just off I-35W, east a mile or so at the airport business park.) The divas are Shirley Daniel and Terry Maxwell, two ladies about my age who fired up their furnace last November. They have a nice setup, blowing 10 am to whatever and welcome visitors. They will rent blow time ($35/hour for pieces taking overnight annealing.) Their cold working includes a large flat grinder and several progressively finer wheels (which belong to Hugh Irwin, who regularly blows at the site) and a rotating lap that automates finishing paperweight bottoms. The ladies are turning out paperweights and 3-4" ornaments/ "witch balls" that Shirley tells me they can do at a rate of one every six minutes. Also saw some nice vase shapes and some nice draped bowls with good asymmetry. The blowing area includes a lehr, a frax topped catching cart, a largish top-load color preheat kiln - very shallow, two benches, two glory holes about 10" ID, and a crucible furnace with walls about 12" thick made of brick and insulating board with some blanket. Heat is from propane through Gibberson burners.

HUGH IRWIN ET.AL. - While I was there, Hugh Irwin was blowing goblets with delicate inside color and clear spiral wraps. Also blowing were Ron and Chris Marrs, father and son with the father being an architect in Dallas with a decade of experience and the son currently attending Texas Tech in architecture and blowing at TT.

USEFUL IDEAS - A couple of ideas seen in the place are: Xerox a drawing of the (hex shaped, in this case) preheat kiln with spots to write down the color layout. Use a frax lined can to hold ornaments for adding a hot bit hanger hook. Use a round metal oil drain pan to put bits and nibbles of glass below the bench. Put the roller wheels for wrapping on the ends of the arms of the bench. Add a steel rail to the bench arms so the pipe is rolling on the edge instead of the flat (a choice I made in welding my bench.) Flat arms catch bits of trash to bump the pipe.4/10/93

GLASS WEEKEND - I got the brochure from Glass Weekend, "A Symposium & Exhibition of Contemporary Glass" [The Creative Glass Center of America, Wheaton Village, 1501 Glasstown Rd., Millville NJ 08332] which has been getting a lot promotion because of the sponsors (Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass, and The Creative Glass Center of America) and mention in ads of some of the 22 galleries participating. The event is a fund raiser for the sponsors and the Symposium is strongly aimed at collectors, not at artists. The work of 200 artists will be shown and participants will pay $250 plus $75 to make their own paperweight, or $200 to make a cast glass sculpture or $275 to make a glass casting of their hand. The list of galleries includes most that I have seen in ads, mostly those east of the Mississippi. Exceptions are 3 California galleries, Judy Youens Gallery in Texas and one from France. No galleries from Oregon or Washington are included. 4/16/93 Got another mailing later showing pictures of three pieces valued at $9,000-$15,000 for which chances are being sold at $100 each, 6 for $500 as a further fund raising effort. 4/25/93

HUGE BOTTLE - About the same time I got the GW brochure, I was looking through the current issue of American Craft. In the People & Places column (p.15) is a photo of and a blurb on a bottle blown last September at the Wheaton Village. The clear glass bottle is an incredible 7 feet 8 inches tall, 30 inches in diameter, holding 193 gallons, over twice the previous Guinness Book record of 92 gallons. The bottle is in the Museum of American Glass. It was blown by artist Steve Tobin with a crew of five named in the column. 4/16/93

IGB #28 - The Independent Glassblower, #28, arrived today [%Gruenig Glassworks, HC 30 Box 25 Main Street, West Barnet VT 05821.] Most of this issue is recipes and procedures for making Gold Ruby Glass with two pages of letters with other information. 4/16/93 I see I managed to miss noting that the G.A.S. Newsletter arrived with a double sided page of notes from TIG and a request for comments on whether more should be included.

GLASS MAGAZINE #51 (Spring 1993) arrived earlier this week. This issue seems much more distanced from handling glass than others. The major articles review history, talk about differences, chart an artist's progress.

Judy Youens Gallery has a new address (3115 D'Amico, Houston TX 77019 713-527-0303] and has opened an exhibit: International Glass Invitational until May 30th. 22 artists are listed on the announcement card. She is also participating in the Glass Lovers Weekend in New Jersey in June. 4/18/93

BOWLING GREEN WORKSHOP - Well, I got a call tonight and the workshop at Bowling Green is ON. That means a hectic week for me, getting ready to leave, including a substitute teacher, packing the van, and doing something with this. This may be my last entry as I am thinking of getting some extra copies made to take along while sending this off to all of you. If I don't send this off now, then any notes I make on the Workshop and G.A.S.Conference will be added in an make it quite long. On the other hand, the cost of printing/copying is low compared to the postage. Ah, well. 4/23/93

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.

27 Artists & 23 DB total sent 4/?/93

25 to take to conference

Total 75

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