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Hot Glass Bits #39

Contact Mike Firth

June 1, 1998 - December 31, 1998 (Printed 11/21/99) Unedited

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THE INDEPENDENT GLASSBLOWER [% David Gruenig, RFD #2 Box 238-B, Lyndonville VT 05851,, $25/yr qtrly] has sent #49, MAR/APR/MAY 98 an 8 page issue whose primary editorial topic continues the series on the Solo Gaffer with a foot pedal operated gloryhole door by Douglas Terry and accessories for hanging posts, such as a small knock off table. I have used a number of foot pedal operated doors, mechanical and pneumatic, and generally don't like them because of the degree to which they throw me off balance. Those that close when the pedal is released, as Terry's does, bug me because they require that a person stand in exactly one position while working, to keep the door open. Note that David now has an e-mail address. 6/29/98 posted 6/29/98

GLASS #71 [GLASS Magazine, UrbanGlass, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn NY 11217- 1112, 1-718-625-3685, $28/yr, $52/2yr, qrtrly] has arrived with a "Special Issue" on Glassblowing, never mind that most of what they feature is furnace worked glass, in this case they mean the process, with some special photos, a good essay with photos on Dante Marioni's work, and an odd feature story titled "Is Glassblowing Dance?"

I consider the story odd first because it should be obvious to anyone who has had any contact with modern dance and who has ever worked with a group of people making a piece in glass that furnace working of glass is closely related to the needs of dance even if it is not synchronized with the often loud (and ugly to my mind) music selected by the gaffer. The relationship, if by nothing else, is pointed up by the fact that virtually every hot shop in the world has an audience area.

But what makes the story really odd is the method GLASS chose for testing their thesis: they paid someone from the Dance Notation Bureau to come and notate a session in Labanotation, which is used for recording dance movements. Three notations of sessions are published and are acclaimed as showing the complexity of glassblowing and of being beautiful graphics.

Unfortunately, since almost none of the readers have ever seen Labanotation and the magazine did not choose to publish an example of a notation of a dance lasting about as long as the glass session, we have no idea of the relative complexity or beauty of the two as represented by the examples of two people working. 6/29/98 posted 6/29/98

VETRO is a new dual language English/Italian journal of glass whose first issue showed up on my doorstep last week. In appearance it is a lot like Glass magazine from UrbanGlass. Many of the ads are from the same galleries and in this issue several offer congratulations on making the first issue. Vetro is produced by Centro Studio Vetro [Fondamenta S.Lorenzo 17/18b, 30141 Murano, VE, Italy, Tel: +39.41.5274771 Fax +] Cost is based on a basic yearly membership of $50 for 4 issues. There is a student reduced rate of $25 and advanced rates given names like Associate at $100 and up.

This issue includes two long articles discussing the history of furnace and lampworked glass in America and Europe. Alfredo Barbini, Seventy Years as a Grand Master, is discussed in one article and William Morris and Richard Meitner in others. Several smaller features are targeted on Lino Tagliapietra, Stanislav Libensky and others. This issue has at least one color image per page with many full color pages. Worth looking at a copy if you can find one. Try the e-mail address for a cheaper query. 7/30/98 posted. GLASS FOCUS [Beverly Copeland, 9323 N. Olcott Ave., Morton Grove IL 60053- 1762, 847-967-8433 fax 847-967-8440 ISSN 1084 0451, bi-monthly $30, single issues $5] Vol. 12 Aug/Sep 98 is a newsletter primarily aimed at collectors that is therefore good if you are trying to reach collectors. A long list of galleries, headline stories of glass events and interviews appear in most issues.

Featured in this issue are announcements of details of Glass Week in Philadelphia's Old City Cultural District, Sept. 11-20, which includes a Gene Koss retrospective and installations, Functional Roman Glass, contemporary glass masters, film and videos on 9/17, and eight galleries. For more info call 215-238-9576 fax 215-238-9351. 8/10/98 posted HORIZONS [The New England Craft Program, 108-P N. Main Street, Sunderland MA 01375, 413-665-0300, FAX: 412-665-4141, e-mail:] announces an addition to their Fall Foliage Intensive with a Glassblowing Add-on, October 13-16, which follows on a previous 3 day workshop, but is open to students who have not taken the previous one. Cost is $385 plus lab fee. Taught by Kelmis Fernandez. Suggested registration is by phone or e- mail. 8/10/98 posted Subj: Re: Water Glass Date: 98-08-28 19:00:33 EDT From: (Roger...) Reply-to: To:



You have a copy of the file on casting pots?? I have been unable to find it on my system. Of course there was that unfortunate incident earlier this year when my main drive committed suicide. Could you send me a copy??

On the subject of "water glass", I have since done a little more homework. (BTW, I used an incorrect spelling of the term. It is one word -- "water glass" is something you drink out of.)

Evidently water glass is a somewhat generic term used for sodium silicate or potassium silicate. It can be found in solid glassy form or powder or most commonly as a saturated solution in a small amount of water. If both sodium and potassium silicates are used it is sometimes referred to as "double water glass". In the past it was used as a protective coating and glue for things like shipping labels and in preserving eggs. (Nowadays I'll bet the FDA would have bit to say about that!)

Apparently it was used extensively in commerce during the 19th and early part of the 20th century, but has been substantially replaced today. In our work it is used as the basis for glues and stiffening agents used with Frax. In these applications, it appears to be mixed with alumina or zirconia powders and applied as a paste. But I suspect you are well aware of these applications. ----

You folks have really had miserable weather in Texas this year. We have been fortunate to only have a couple of times where the temperature exceeded 100 for more than a day. And then the humidity was only 25% or so. In fact during the last hot spell, I worked in my back yard clearing brush and weeds. And this week I am putting a storage shed in the clear space.

Need the storage in order to clear out more of my shop. I purchased a Jen-Ken crucible furnace in May and have been using it to do small, solid glass. It is a good furnace, but I do not like the three small crucibles. I am going to change to one large crucible. Marty Daily says that he has one that holds 17# of glass. That's a lot better than the 3.5 to 4 pounds that each of the small ones hold. Ultimately I want to make my own furnace and slip-cast my own crucibles.

In addition to the building I have two current projects. I am making blowpipes and punties so I can start doing blown glass. After some experimentation, I decided to make them full size -- patterned after the Steinert design. I picked up some surplus SST pipe/tubing and am machining 1" tapered heads. I am still undecided whether to put Delrin mouthpieces on them or not. For about $200 worth of SST and tooling, I will be able to make at least 6-8 pipes and 4-6 hollow punties. Will supplement the hollow punties with 1/2" and/or 3/8" solid punties when I find the material. My second project is currently at an impasse. I want to make a glory hole -- about 8" diameter and 18-20" deep chamber. But I am having problems with the burner design. I had hoped to use high pressure propane with a venturi injector, but have found the flame is too rich -- or when I lean it out, it is unstable. Perhaps I will have to go to an aspirator design with a blower.

My main problem with any fire-breathing design is fire safety. My shop is very small and cannot handle a full size gas furnace or glory. This has left me frustrated. If I could find the right place, I would consider renting a shop or buying a small piece of commercial property. Buying would have to be viewed as an investment -- put the property up for sale in the future. Both are an LOT more $$$ than I am comfortable with at this time.

Got to go. Need to get to Home Depot for some building materials.

Take care, Roger...

Subject: Re: Glass Blowing From: "Donald R. McKinney" Date: 28 Aug 1998 10:48:40 PDT

Actually, with the equipment that is available today you can do small glass blowing on you patio for around a $3000.00 investment. The size of the piece that you can make is definitely limited but, I have been making paperweights up to 4" in diameter and marbles as well as blowing Christmas ornaments in a very small setup. I have taught marble paperweight classes for the past five years using the Murphy Fire Bucket (glory hole), a small electric crucible furnace for melting the glass, an annealing kiln and some basic hand tools. All pieces are made off hand and standing up. I do not have a glass blowing bench in my studio. To do serious glass blowing you will need a bench and larger equipment but, if you are just looking to have fun at a much smaller investment this is not a bad way to go and is relatively safe since you do not have a gas fired furnace running around the clock. Don McKinney The Glass Palette Studio << You have a copy of the file on casting pots??>>

Yup. I have attached it and included a copy of my notes on the process.

Let me know if you have a problem with it.


Your projects are a bit daunting.

I had considered making pipes for the same reason you did. Once I found that thick wall stainless tubing was available so that only a shallow cut was needed to fit it into the thin wall body tubing. I may do it once I need a number of pipes.

I learned in making my small pipes from stainless water pipe that the small hole with plenty of metal at the end is important. I made some hollow punties by putting 3/8" rod into (nominal) 1/4" thick wall water pipe.

Having used Delrin on public pipes where it gets damaged by teeth and seems very hard to get smooth again, so it sandpapers the lips, I now favor stainless.


>> I had hoped to use high pressure propane with a venturi injector, but have found the flame is too rich -- or when I lean it out, it is unstable. Perhaps I will have to go to an aspirator design with a blower. <<

I have built a number of T-pipe burners (not venturi) and with the adjustments possible have found that the combinations of orifices, injection position, pipe size and gas pressure could be endless. I much prefer blowers. If I needed to go with venturi (mostly I would do it to avoid power failure complications as Art Allison does) I would buy the venturi. My feeling is that venturi (is that plural or is venturum singular?) only work well with a variable regulator to control pressure.

One thing I haven't seen discussed is my growing conviction that burners have a limited range - too little air and the flame moves back into the head, too much and the flame gets thin and blown off. Presumably the multi-hole head gives a greater range, but even Giberson's heads need a certain minimum air flow, which means they have a certain minimum heat, pick one too big and you have hot glass. Any T-pipe burner design (unblown) is only going to work well with a flue or other serious consideration as to exhaust air flow.

The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass [One Corning Way, Corning NY 14830-2253, 607-974-6467, FAX:607-974-6370, ] has announced fall and winter programs. In the Fall there are seven 10 week courses that will be of interest to people within driving distance for a 3 hour course ending at 10 p.m. on a weekday. These include flat glass as well as torch and furnace working.

Of more interest to people at a greater distance are a series of Weekend Workshops 10 am to 4 pm Sat. & Sun. (with an hour for lunch) $150. These include Beginning Glassblowing (furnace) 10/10-11, 1024-25, 11/7-8; Beginning Lampworking 10/10-11, 11/7-8; Beadmaking 10/24-25; Intro. to Sandblasting 10/24-25; Small-Scale Kiln Casting 11/7-8; Beyond Beads 11/14-15; Continuing Glassblowing 11/21-22; Hollow Bead-Making 11/21-22; Cane Pulling 12/19-20. On Sunday 10/10 there are two One Day Sessions ($75), Paperweights at the Furnace and Beadmaking.

The winter program is 5 one week (6 day) multi-class ($485) sessions: (1) 1/4-9 Solid Working in Glass, Glass Figures (Lampworking), Intro. to Kiln Casting; (2) 1/11-16 Beginning Glassblowing (furnace), Murrine Madness (lampworking), Intro. to Kiln Casting II; (3) 1/18-23 Intro to Venetian Techniques (furnace), Intro to Glass Beadmaking, Kiln Forming & Enameling; (4) 1/25-30 Graphic & Color Systems in Glass (furnace), It's Pointless (lampworking), Glass Sculpture on a Small Scale, Pate de verre and more, (5) 2/1-6 Beginning Glassblowing, Intro to Flameworking.

Write, call or e-mail for booklet with complete descriptions and instructor bios. At this time, the website still has the summer programs on it. 9/8/98 Subject: Studio Fires From: MikeFirth  Date: 17 Sep 1998 17:53:09 GMT

Everyone talks about the risk of fire from glassblowing operations and certainly virtually every glassblowing factory in the early history of American glassblowing was terminated by a fire that destroyed the operation. But, in the 8 years I have been around the craft in an active way, I have heard far more concerns about the risk of fire than I have heard of fires. Can anyone give some specific information about fires that have occurred, say since 1980, that specifically are connected with the blaze starting in a furnace glassblowing operation? I would not consider a studio destroyed by fire because it was in the midst of a forest fire to be in this category, but I would certainly consider a blaze that started when an earthquake shook a studio to pieces to fit. Any comments?

Subject: Re: Studio Fires From: dragnbead@ (DragnBead) Date: 17 Sep 1998 19:39:38 GMT


didn't Imperial Burn to the ground? but that was late 1970.s

Subj: Re: Studio Fires Date: 98-09-17 16:29:45 EDT From:

(Jeff Mentuck) To: mikefirth (MikeFirth)


When I was last at Penland, A bunch of us were in Asheville, NC and we drove by a burned down glass shop. At least that's what everyone said. Maybe someone down in that neck of the woods would know more.


Subj: Fires..... Date: 98-09-17 16:47:31 EDT From:

 (Larry Peterson Family) To: mikefirth

Hi Mike.... Just got back from vacation and getting ready to travel again in the morning, but saw your posting about furnace fires ... Were you only interested in Studio furnace fires? Our local glass bottle making operation in Elmira Heights, NY recently had a major fire..... Surprising how much there is to burn in a factory setting where everything is cement/steel etc. I don't know if this glass operation has an in-house trained fire suppression team like Corning does, so that might explain why it got out of hand so quickly. Later.

Meg In article <6tvger$i4k$>, "Chris" writes:

>Ever work in a shop with no air pressure safety switch so that when the >electricity goes out the blower stops but not that 6 foot flame that rolls >out of the glory hole?

Okay folks, with a partial change of title, lets try to get this discussion onto a positive note. Step one, lets assume that we are talking about the studios that Henry Halem is most concerned about my influencing just by asking the question: low cost, free standing studios almost entirely built by the artist. This leaves out studios built in commercial buildings shared by other people, leaves out studios with employees, and leaves out studios in schools, all of which have special requirements from insurance companies, etc. [It also leaves out, thank God, the strange people who use gas to melt glass under the roof of their house.] Step two, lets define the building as being built tightly enough that accumulated gas can build up causing an explosion risk. That leaves several of the odd constructions I mentioned, like the open walled "studio" at Junction, people who blow in their back yard and the few studios for whom ventilation is never a problem. Okay, first step in requirements seems to be an alarm in the house (somewhere nearby for most of the people I am thinking of) that will go off under any of the following conditions: Over heating in the studio (I say this rather than a fire alarm, because I am not sure whether an ionization fire alarm (smoke detector) will not be triggered repeatedly in a glass studio, have to try.) Fuel leak (propane or natural gas) in the studio (remote announce costs a bit more. Electric failure in the studio. Panic button/cable for personal use. Based on my experience, but not yet having priced specific items, this can all be done for under $70. Second step, any furnace/glory hole/gas device that uses a blower must have a device that will cut off the gas if the electricity fails. [See guys, I'm not as stupid as you seem to think I am.] Depending on the gas type and pressure involved this can be done for under $80 to under $200.

Third step, most furnaces/etc. should have a device that kills the electricity to the blower and cuts off the gas [and ideally sets off the alarm] if the gas pressure drops too low or off. Fortunately, the device for second step already contains a gas cut off and adding alarm and electricity shut off costs about $20 extra. Now note at this point, we have added safety, but the cost can be very high in terms of results because there is no accommodation for a brief power failure - any failure and the system shuts down and sounds an alarm. If the person is not on hand to restart, the glass freezes in the nice expensive pot and maybe the furnace needs a rebuild. So the fourth step, as Henry suggests, is to add a small delay circuit so that a 2 second power failure doesn't trip the system but longer ones take the system down. About $30.

Note however that many people don't want to be tied to their studio while they are melting glass and they don't want the risk of losing the crucible and maybe the furnace. Therefore, they want the system to restart if the electricity and gas (and failure of the former is much more likely) come back on.

Also note that at about this point, the controls to be added are going to be very much like those needed to automatically control the furnace temperature, so some choices can add restart safety and temperature control, while others may do only one.

One method of restart safety is to measure the temperature in the furnace and if it is too low to light the gas, don't turn on the blower or the gas. Today, this can be done for about $35.

For the same amount of money, a lower temperature could be used to force a shutdown on the grounds that the furnace is not lit, but a well insulated furnace might cool so slowly that gas could accumulate. Not good.

A second method of restart safety would be to guarantee ignition. One blacksmith with a gas annealer simply uses a home furnace igniter running all the time. A venturi or other flame source that does not use a blower would cope with the much more common electricity failure (though not a gas failure.) about $50 At this point, there is a chance for considerable jump in cost and then a whopping jump. The considerable jump involves automatic temperature control. This can be done, probably he said, for $100 to $450 over the cost of the previous safety choices. The $100 figure would involve a home built temperature controller ($30) with a gas valve ($70) being shut off and on. The higher end would involve a computer set proportional controller with ramping ($250) and sophisticated gas control valve ($200.) Finally, there is the step to the level that has been mentioned several times in this thread, $1500 for interlocking safety with a purple peeper and so forth.
 What purple peeper does is look at the UV of the flame to be sure it is there (UV since there are higher temps in the flame than in the furnace when the flame is not lit.) Since a person would never get the flame started if the purple peeper were always active, there is a start cycle like holding down the button on a water heater to light it. And there is a restart cycle, and this is what adds to the expense and usually means the purple peeper is part of an overall control system. If there is a failure or the flame is being shut off for temp control, the system can attempt to restart the burner. The purple peeper is ignored for a (short) while as the gas is turned on and then its output is checked to see if a flame started. Depending on the controller design, several attempts may be made before an alarm is sounded for burner failure. The overall control system can include precise temperature control, the ability to sleep the furnace at night and bring it up to temp for use in the morning and to take it through the glass cooking cycle.
 A commercial controller can cost $2500 or more. The total package, such as the one used at Bowling Green State University for their new studio (in 1993) which is inside the new art building and has full safety and control capability including mixing the gas at the blower throat and added gas valves on the glory holes for making a reducing atmosphere is probably $5,000 per gas fired unit, not including the cost of building the furnace. I am starting a new thread to try and make this more positive, but can I at least point out that Henry when assumed that my question implied that I was against safety features, when I meant nothing of the kind. Henry Halem is strongly in favor of solid safety features just as many of his designs for glory holes, annealers and furnaces come from the large production casting and school environments he has worked in. His desire for $2,000 safety controls on gas devices is not far different from his annealer design that will allow casting temperatures to be reached and thus costs about $1,000 without controller. Whenever I mention a lower cost choice in annealers, I also mention that it won't reach casting or even fusing temperatures.

I asked my question first to find out whether I was missing something - are there fires I don't know about. I have not been overwhelmed with info.

If I were to use my database of glassblowers to do a survey on fires and safety features actually being used, I might be able to answer Henry's statement: maybe there are no fires because everyone is using wonderful safety equipment (I somehow doubt this based on my travels, but I may have missed something.) I could ask what kind of near risk things had happened and get an idea of how close to the edge people are running their studios (how many times have they walked into a studio full of gas, how many times have they had a power failure and singed the ceiling with the gas flow as Chris describes, how many times has a broken or loose pipe resulted in open flame (do you know where the main cut off valve is?) and how many times has a torch exploded a "butane" lighter left laying on a marver (as I saw happen.) Safety is important. Asking whether fires are actually occurring in studios is not necessarily challenging the need for safety devices. See the next thread "Studio Fire Safety"

Subject: Re: Studio Fires From: Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 06:09:29 GMT

What are you talking about? Do you just ask questions to bait people in and then jerk us all around? You asked a question concerning studio fires. I answered it, and you micromanage it. What a pathetic waste of time. Rest assured, I will never respond to another of your posts, no matter how needful, backward, or dangerous its content, as you have really got problems, and I would prefer not to be associated with you, even by a thread.

<< What are you talking about? Do you just ask questions to bait people in and then jerk us all around?>> No, I ask questions to get information. I asked if people knew of fires in glass studios. You and Henry attacked me for asking the question. For example, you did not ask me what I meant to see if you understood me correctly. I am dedicated to the idea that it does not require $12,000 for a person to work furnace glass. After I spent $450 twice to attend summer glass classes, I blew my first piece of glass in my back yard for about $600, most of which went into the annealer and controller. My primary safety device, in that wide open yard, was a garden hose to water down the grass to keep it from burning when I dropped glass. I would not recommend that other people follow the same route I did (learning about castable would be better than the fire brick I used), but that does not mean that a person can't assemble a safe rig for less than the price of a good used car. If I can specify safety equipment that serves specific purposes at trade offs of cost (for example, possibly losing a pot at $200-400 - although I also suggest ways to have lower cost pots) that would be unacceptable to a production studio, then people who want to blow glass without having to hire employees and meeting production goals might do so. I love the act of blowing glass. I find it relaxing and challenging. I am not an artist. I don't have a career plan involving glass production. So far I haven't come close to covering my costs in any given year. Some times I make pieces of glass that I really, really like. Pieces I have blown hold candy on my dining room table, decorate my mantle and hang in various windows as gifts for friends. I have sold a few pieces. If you have read what I have written down through the months, I think you will find I am driven by common sense and am certainly willing to correct my mistakes. That doesn't mean I roll over and play dead when pounced upon.

Subject: Re: Studio Fires From: "Chris" Date:

Sun, 20 Sep 1998 15:04:01 -0700

>close to the edge people are running their studios (how many times have they >walked into a studio full of gas, how many times have they had a power failure >and >singed the ceiling with the gas flow as Chris describes, how many times has a >broken or loose pipe resulted in open flame (do you know where the main cut off > >valve is?) and how many times has a torch exploded a "butane" lighter left >laying >on a marver (as I saw happen.) > > Safety is important. Asking whether fires are actually occurring in studios >is not >necessarily challenging the need for safety devices. See the next thread >"Studio Fire Safety" > >

Safety is a people issue as well as an equipment issue.

It doesn't have to take a power outage or a low budget. I was making stuff after work in a very well run environment, it was Friday afternoon. During the work day, the tech's had installed a replacement day tank, and were candling it up. Sunday, I used my key to get in the building to get my stuff from the oven. I was met by one of "those funny smells" you fear....I went in to the furnace room and saw a nine foot high reduction flame coming out of the flue. Damn. I call the boss, he shoots down, thanks me and says that the armature on the mod-motor wasn't tight and it didn't turn the butterfly valve for the air when the controller told the system to get hotter. Still not getting hot enough....add more fuel and air ( air is getting added......)still not getting hot....add get the picture. Would have been a night mare if it didn't happen it the middle of an aluminum building with a 24 foot ceiling. All the safety systems were in what?

A hot shop opened up about 10 blocks from my house. They have a very powerful exhaust fan. If you turn the fan for the hood on all the way (without opening a large roll up style door) then the pilot light for the heater of the occupant on the other side of the wall is sucked out (don't ask me how but I un-knowingly made the Gas Co. come out twice) causing them to smell a build up of gas. This shop has a great safety system (electric furnace) but their presence has effected their neighbors ( I believe one gentleman touched upon this Subject).

One upon a time, Seattle had a building with 2 glass shops in it. One upstairs, Entrance on the East wall. One downstairs, entrance on the North wall. Corner building, top of a hill. Right across the street is an empty lot with a construction project. I'm making stuff in the downstairs shop, I hear some commotion outside and start to smell gas. I look out the door and see a 40 foot high geyser of natural gas and dirt billowing up to the sky. The back hoe hit the pipe. We shut the whole shop down even the furnaces as did the guys upstairs. The whole block was evacuated. 4 glory holes and 3 furnaces within 90 feet of a major gas leak. Pretty hairy.

Every one who has been around ANY industrial procedure will have tales of peril.

As for the Henry Halem quote, Mike, I think it's a great book. I've had it about 3 years. I think that (IMHO of course) Henry does not further address "safety systems for any budget" because he does not want people to miss construe his mere mention of them as an endorsement. But hey, I could be wrong.

If you me or any one else has to scrimp on start up costs to the point where you're weighing safety against the cost of something, stop and think about how you're going to make that third month of operating costs. Do you want your whole project to be so shoe string that your constantly starting and stopping instead of just making work? Glass blowing is a great way to make a small fortune....out of a big fortune. The bigger your seed the longer you can work un-interrupted, the longer you can work un-interrupted the more work you can do. The more work you have, the more you can sell......Ya'll know the routine.

Chris Steffens

In article <6u3u8s$em3$>, "Chris" writes:

> If you me or any one else has to scrimp on start up costs to the point >where you're weighing safety against the cost of something, stop and think >about how you're going to make that third month of operating costs. Do you >want your whole project to be so shoe string that your constantly starting >and stopping instead of just making work? Glass blowing is a great way to >make a small fortune....out of a big fortune.

Thank you for a superb, well stated reply that included exactly the kind of examples I hoped to get when I asked the question. Your question about the third month of operation has set me off. I have been thinking about how I should better organize my notes, having made several false starts. This week I have been considering starting without Preface or Introduction, calling Chapter 1, "In the Beginning" (risking theological wrath I fear.) Your paragraph above reinforces my view that it might be a good place to start:

In the Beginning, what do you want do with furnace glass? My first answer was: keep up my skills, blow glass for three hours, shut down, do as good as I could under those conditions. SO, I built an annealer to save my glass, scrounged stainless steel water pipe for pipes and rod for punties, and built a furnace/glory hole from insulating fire bricks standing on end with a brick across the top. I melted cullet given me by other blowers in a variety of odd pots. I can recommend better choices. Total cost (aside from classes) about $600. Portion reusable later, about $495. My second answer is: keep up my skills, blow for eight hours or more, melt good looking glass, create a series of nice pieces, be able to blow bigger pieces. SO, I learned more about castable, built a standard glory hole, bought some more propane regulators, bought a bigger propane tank, put together a larger annealer (keeping the first), wired my yard for 220 v, 40 amp and made larger pots. Total cost, maybe $900, total time almost a year.

The next step I might take is to create a rig where glass is melted over night so I can blow glass over several days every month or two. That means my equipment will be unattended for hours at a time. That means a significant step up in safety equipment.

The next step might be to enclose or house my equipment. Much more safety required.

A glass artist, working to make money, has got to have far different answers. At a minimum, one would expect that blowing would go on for weeks, not hours, like the paperweight makers in New Jersey in the 20's, 30's and 40's who fired up once a year in the winter for 2-3 weeks. The furnace should be built to be run for weeks and months. The crucible should be selected to stand up to the glass chemistry for this period and not shed stones, even though this means it is probably brittle and thermal shock sensitive and requires 24 hours or more just to get up to heat. The furnace has to run unattended, holding temp (control system?), and handling emergencies on its own without creating new ones. (The glory hole, on the other hand, may not have quite the same requirements.) Two annealers, minimum, are probably required. Maybe a multi-unit controller is worth having. The shop must certainly be enclosed because the investment in running is so high that production must take place every day the studio is hot, weather or not. A whole lot of safety is needed. So, if the answer to the question, "What do you want to do with furnace glass?" is "Still be blowing glass 90 days from now, having blown almost every day." then the equipment to be built is a lot more like that in Henry Halem's book than in my notes and back yard. [And if the answer includes students using the equipment, then it had better be even tougher.]

Subj: Re: Studio Fires Date: 98-09-22 01:13:07 EDT From:

frussell@InfoAve.Net (S& E Russell) To: MikeFirth

MikeFirth wrote: > > << What are you talking about? Do you just ask questions to bait people in and then jerk us all around? >> > > No, I ask questions to get information. I asked if people knew of fires in > glass studios. You and Henry attacked me for asking the question.

No. I answered your question, and you ignored my answer. A guy I know (I protected his name in my post to avoid his potential embarrassment) burned down a building in Asheville in 1995 due to not using safety measures. I also went into exaggerated detail as to the stupidity of working glass without interlocking safety systems because I think far too many people are going into this field without knowing anything about the down side. Also I am aware of several bootleg studios in the Bay Area who are operating without fire marshal's endorsement and without insurance. I welcome more people to the field, but to pose a question that some dork in art school reads that, in his mind, endorses a position of cavalier indifference to safety systems "because I've never heard of a fire" is ridiculous.

If you read my post carefully, there's a shitload of info there, and to snip it up into two crucifixion morsels is foolhardy on your part. Then to change the title of the thread to distance yourself from a silly idea in the first place...well, you know what I'm talking about. I've been doing this far too long to get in a pissing contest over semantics. My intent was to let you know that there have been fires and explosions, and that others got hurt. That's why I always endorse the Factory Mutual powertrain. It can come from Eclipse, Honeywell or North American or whoever, but it leaves nothing to chance and no room to scrimp. It is also the only way to avoid getting shut down by OSHA, should you get ratted out by a competitor (It happens).

Fires are not publicized, because once you have a claim, you get cancelled. A close friend of ours in SF put up some framework to hold some sheet metal in place. Over the years, the wood dried out to a point that it created a smoldering fire. Was that reported? No. The frame work was replaced, and a metal shield was put over the braces. It's the same thing with repetitive motion syndrome and burns. Where do you report this, and why? It does occur, and more than you might think. If you were asking a rhetorical question, you should never get upset with a rhetorical answer.

Subj: Re: Studio Fires Date: 98-09-22 01:01:53 EDT From: (Chris and Shannon) To:(MikeFirth)

-----Original Message----- From: MikeFirth Newsgroups: Date: Monday, September 21, 1998 8:32 PM

Subject: Re: Studio Fires > Thank you for a superb, well stated reply that included exactly the kind of
>examples I hoped to get when I asked the question.
Some times, I understand....not often but sometimes.
> > In the Beginning, what do you want do with furnace glass?
I know this is rhetorical, but really the question is WHY(?) not WHAT?

I understand the emotional issues (remember I do this all day everyday, I happen to think I'm one of the luckiest people EVER. I understand the attraction that this "super-cool-liquid" holds over me/you and all the others). But the question I have to ask is: why glass? Are you gaining skill as a vehicle for an idea? Or are you looking at having a knick knack business? What do you expect to gain from more skill (other than a higher self esteem...don't laugh, that's why I push my personal limits)?

It may sound like I'm just giving you a hard time, but "because it's so much fun" is not a reasonable answer.

Please don't read this the wrong way, but I've put a huge amount of effort into being the best craftsman I can be. 9 years of at least 40hrs/week with more than 3 of those years were 70hrs/week time on the stick, making product. I really can't find much market for my own work....I do shows (whsl/rtl), contact galleries, the whole thing. I'm finding that good glassblowing only impresses glassblowers. I won't be discouraged ( I just finished reading The Fountainhead by Ann Rand....lot of perspective now). My partner and I have an entire glass shop. 250lbs pot, burner/saftey chain, 20 inch G.H. color box, Med. A.O....pipes, punties....all of it. It sits cold in our garages. We came to the conclusion " We want a hot shop....we don't yet need a hot shop". Damn, that was a big heart breaker.

But my situation is very different from yours. I got the job right out of HS. Got a lot of O.J.T. Only paid for my first class this year. Pilchuck (we'll see if that makes me sell!). Lots of employment ops. here as well as lots of rental shops. Renting is a great way to control costs. When I have no work to make, I have no bill to cover. I'm in a position to trade extra work for extra time, so prototypes and practice are a little cheaper too.

So, I gotta say, being a better glassblower is not a reasonable answer cause you will ALWAYS want to get better. You never become "good enough". The better you are, the better circles you turn in, the better people you see, the more you want to be feeds itself.

But like I said, the tone of this is encouragement not discouragement.

So, there is a guy in town (his shop is 20 blocks from my house) with a degree from MIT. he melts 60 lbs of glass(from batch!) in a tiny little furnace he built out of vermiculite and castable. It runs on a little fireplace blower. Takes like 2 days to melt, but he makes a production line of items that weigh about 7 oz. Makes a living, but not getting rich. VERY LOW overhead=better profit margin.

The first hot shop I worked had a color pot made from a Seattle pottery supply kiln. It had a 10lbs crucible and a piece of fiberboard (with a hole cut out for the opening of the pot) over the top to keep the element heat in when you gathered. the lid was closed when not gathering.

Told me he built his whole business blowing glass out of one of those.

That's what I would suggest.

In JAN. make a little G.H. (maybe 6 inches) by FEB have your kiln, pot, fiberboard and A.O. ready. Late FEB rent (or better yet, just try to buy a pot of clear, melted and hot) a shop, don't use the GH but just roll out bars of clear. All of it, The WHOLE tank. In March, ramp up some clear bars in the AO. Turn on the kiln (w/ the pot/fiber assembly). When the kiln is hot (3 hours) put in a couple of clear bars (from the AO). In a couple of min put in more.

Now, make Christmas Ornaments. When pot is low, add more clear bars. When out of clear bars, rent again. When you shut of the kiln (at the end of a workday), make sure it's as empty as you can get it. Do this all summer. In the fall start to look for places that will carry your balls (ornaments). Sell them.

Use this as seed money for the bigger shop with all the goodies. I know more than 1 person who did this and now have a shop. The benefit will be twofold; You will be making money the whole time on very little start up (and it's safe) and you will become a better glassblower by a.) doing the same thing over and over, b.) by seeing a sphere blow out time and time again, you can learn ALOT about glass blowing, c.) most of the work is done on the high end of the heat curve, teaching you better control, and d.) since its fast (90 secs as opposed to a 40 min vessel) you have many more tries at it (it's the tries that get you better, consider 5 jack lines in a day over 140 jack lines in a replace "jack lines" with any glassblowing verb)

> > > The next step I might take is to create a rig where glass is melted over >night so I can blow glass over several days every month or two. That means my >equipment will be unattended for hours at a time. That means a significant >step up in safety equipment.

I think any pot that would hold "several days" worth of glass is pretty big (300 lbs). About 3 or more days to heat up.(***see below***)

The shop where I do all of my own work is in my buddies garage. He has a 300lb electric melt and a 20 in. GH. The oven is a little small, so we don't make bowls, only tall things. Electric is all he would have there. With his 30+ years of glass blowing, it just seems the safest way.

> > The next step might be to enclose or house my equipment. Much more safety >required.

I would think you would be more worried about the "attractive nuisance" problem. In WA if you have a motorcycle-swimming pool-whatever and some kid TRESPASSES ON YOUR PROPERTY and gets hurt, it's the home owners enticed the young'un in to your yard.

> > A glass artist, working to make money, has got to have far different answers.

A glass artist wanting to run his shop for a whole week has GOT to make money. Some days your just working for the privilege of being a glass blower. >The shop must certainly be enclosed because the investment in running is so >high that production must take place every day the studio is hot, weather or >not. A >whole lot of safety is needed.

Yeah, we've got you beat on that weather issue. Texas is hot. Seattle is just wet. I like to tell people " nobody does this cause it comfortable".

Well good luck, I hope this help even though it rambles a bit.....fight the good fight!

Chris Steffens

***this is the below*** I don't have any idea the amount of glass you pull. That guy from Oregon (the guy seeking the sales rep) said he goes through 2 tons a year to make his production line. The shop in my buddies garage goes through 10 tons a year (this is just a hobby shop by local standards) and I pull an easy 3 ton a year just from that shop. Some days we crush the tank, other days we don't. The Glass Eye goes through more then 4 tons a week of Spruce Pine ( 2 continues feeds) and an untold amount of bottle cullet (4-1000lb day tanks, some colored, some clear). Lots of places do more than a ton a month.

Subject: Re: Factory Mutual From:  Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 01:35:07 GMT

> Hello all, > > I've been following this studio fire thread and seen a couple of mentions > of this factory mutual standards for hot shops. I haven't come across > this. Is this a set of rules written by the insurance company governing > what makes a safe hot shop? And are they talking about the kind of small > studio we all work at? And third can you just call FM to get this thing? > Sounds like good information, any help would be appreciated. > > Jeff >

Hey Jeff-- All the FM covers is the delivery and combustion of gas to a combustion chamber. These power trains can utilize hi/lo shutoffs, flame sensors, modulating controlled valves, etc. They are, by their very design, scalable, and can be used for anything from running a barbecue grill to running a float glass operation (just add more gas, burners pilots, and blowers). If you look at the pilot system on a gas water heater or a stove, you are basically looking at a smaller system of which I speak. If you use gas for heat generation, you have to have this type of system in place in order to get insurance. It is also mandatory in some areas to have licensed contractors, electricians & plumbers install this stuff. Not always, but in heavy-union areas, you can bet on it. If you've got insurance, have a fire, and they come out to inspect the damage, you can be denied your claim due to not having this type of system. It's kind of like having built your own water heater or electric range. Nobody's going to think you know what you're doing, especially after a fire. Factory Mutual is a system of testing laboratories, somewhat like Underwriter's Laboratories(UL listed) that make rulings for commercial and industrial applications. OK I went out to the shop, and went through the Eclipse, North American, Pyromation, Maxxon, and Honeywell binders, and found the best information available in the Honeywell Flame Safeguard controls textbook. Part number 71- 97558. If you can't find it easily where you're at (from Honeywell), I'll order a bunch and you can get them from me. This book covers lots of stuff that you definitely don't need, but if you talk to a lot of industrial gearheads in your business, this can do nothing but buff up your mind. The main thrust of the valve train section of this text is to cover the requirements of such approval bodies as: Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, Factory Insurance Association, and National Fire Protection Assn. It also covers lots of stuff that is necessary but not always thought of like: All valve trains require a sediment trap. All pressure regulators must be vented. As the Btu/hr requirements increase, the safety shutoff requirements increase. The book is 350+ pages, spiral-bound, and covers the Honeywell RA 890 (my favorite) purple peeper system as well as all of the other types of flame detection systems. Gotta go. Let me know who wants one of these. Email, please, as I don't live & breathe on this group. E.

HONEYWELL BOOK - A glance at the end of this article will reveal that the date is after the supposed closing of HB39, but the information seemed more appropriate here than in another issue. When I asked about fires in glass studios last fall, I was attacked by Henry Halem and E of frussel, Henry for perhaps influencing people to not use safety devices and E for supposedly baiting people with trick questions and not performing the way he wanted me to. After a long thread, E finally explained what Factory Mutual was and gave a Honeywell part number [71- 97558] for a good book, saying he would order them for anyone who wanted one. Not including me, of course; he considered it a serious insult I had waited a whole 10 days to ask. In any case, the book is cheap and easily available by mail or FAX. It costs $17 including shipping and may be ordered by mail to Honeywell, Inc., Attn: Training Dept. MN10-2401, 1985 Douglas Drive, North, Golden Valley MN 55422-3992 and by FAX, 612-954-4455, with credit card info, number & expiration date for MC, Visa & Discover.

As E stated, it is a large book with a lot of fascinating information. Almost as interesting is what is left out when viewed by someone with moderate glass experience. In the beginning is a very good, information filled section on the history and essentials of combustion and burners. Yet, when naming the burner types, the one used on hundreds of studio glass furnaces is not mentioned: burning straight down from the top. The exact burner used in many installations, called in the book the Blast Burner, gets two short paragraphs which happen to include exactly why it is used in small glass furnace operations: "this type is used extensively in high temperature furnace ... [where] the firing rate is cycled between high and low."

Much of the book is devoted to material of little or no interest to glass workers, including the complexities of heavy oil and coal firing, the needs of boilers and immersion heaters. However, 71 pages into the book begins the flame detection safety with a discussion of Flame Rods and an overview of other methods. I had never heard of flame rods before this, but it seems to me they are an excellent and lower cost choice over Purple Peepers (and I don't even know what they cost yet.) After reading through the section it becomes obvious that a flame rod behaves almost exactly like a thermocouple, a voltage being produced by differential temperature across the rod length, the difference being that instead of a wire being attached at the other end, the other end is effectively grounded through the ionized hot gases of the flame. (Incidentally, the rod is the only safety device, I would think, that can be mounted to a burner atop a furnace as the heat up there would probably fry a Purple Peeper, although it could be held off some distance and view through a pipe. The PP can endure ambient and faceplate temps up to the low 200F's depending on model. The PP must be installed to view the first 1/3 of the flame. )

The middle portion of the book is involved with increasingly complicated discussions of controllers. This material is very much in the category of "read till your mind becomes numb then skip sections until the words become relevant again. [Unless you really want to read through the sequencing and trouble shooting procedures for a controller that is only used in 12,000,000 Btuh installations.] A section on Limits, Controllers, and Interlocks has to be handled with caution because very good stuff appears on the next page from stuff about steam boilers. The section on Valves and Valve Trains is the one praised by E and is certainly very good, building up the sequence of valves with logical explanations and variations. I didn't learn any new concepts, but did encounter a lot of nice part numbers and specific reasons for doing things. Finally, on page 279, there are the specific recommendations of Underwriters Laboratories and Factory Mutual, wherein it is disclosed that FM considers any system under 12,500,000 Btuh to be the small category requiring only 10 devices be attached to the piping. UL manages to have categories down to one of 400,000 to 2,500,000 Btuh that only requires seven devices. (Subtract two devices from each count if you consider a manual shut off valve to not be a device, then the ratio becomes 8 to 5.)  Considering that most small glass studios run burners that are just under to just over 400,000, this is at the lower limits of planning.

The next section is on Firing Rate Controls and here a juicy tidbit shows up. In describing the methods of firing, the High-Low Firing method is credited with saving 10-15 percent of fuel needed for modulated firing, the latter requiring more complicated equipment to produce more precise control, at the cost of inefficient operation at some settings. Now, I considered a High-Low system as a good choice because it didn't involve the risks of shutting off the system completely, while being less expensive than the proportional which turns out to be costly in other ways. Hummmm!

It was only after reading the whole thing through and letting it sit on my mind for a while that I realized (and went back to check) that all of the controllers discussed in so much detail are in fact only good for controlling hot air heating and hot water and similar temperatures. Electronic controllers and thermocouples are not mentioned, and the biggest problem of these controllers, being able to try to change the setting too fast, is also not mentioned. Deep down in the corner of the controls diagrams is a reference to Low Voltage Controller, a relay contact. In fact, one problem is separating the very careful, but not fully defined, references to Controls and Controllers and how they are different.

So is the book valuable? Of course. It is worth far more than its cost simply for making clear the safety sequencing and risks of running a burner and the logic of developing a set of valves and piping. To my mind it focuses so much on safety controls that the bigger picture is lost - if the bigger picture is how does this fit in a system. Much would be clearer if the same kind of general statement made about safety systems were made for controller systems, which are mostly treated as "Use part T991E and connect wire between W & W on the V9055. It may be necessary to blow a few hundred bucks to make a more straight forward description possible. 1/18/99, 2/1/99

COMMON GROUND: GLASS, the newsletter of the IGGA [International Guild of Glass Artists, Inc., 307 SW "G" Street, Grants Pass OR 97826, $25 newsletter only, membership $45 and up.] has arrived with rather more content than some previous issues. This issue features foiled work with a cover and major photo spread and articles on the 3-D foil work of Mike Savid which includes locomotives and old cars, table lamps with foiled glass stems/legs and boxes with lids made of four arches. Other articles include decorative solder by Di Cubitt, wholesaling by Christie Wood, Apprentices by Melanie Dunstan, a couple of things by pj friend, and a long visit to Youghiogheny on a Glass Lovers' Weekend. Following the listing of Guild Members, there are 31 pages of Upcoming events from early September to April, listed in date order from such places as Galveston Glass (lots), Horizons, UrbanGlass, Corning, and a number of other studios. Topics range across beginning to advanced stained glass, fusing, lampworking, glassblowing, and casting. 10/3/98

GLASS Magazine [GLASS Magazine, UrbanGlass, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn NY 11217-1112, 1-718-625-3685 , qrtly, $28/yr, $52/2yr, back issues $7] issue

# 72, Fall 98, is a Special Harvey Littleton Issue, with stories about his role in the studio art glass movement and in the use of glass sheet in print making, showing why glass has become so popular for this use. For those who don't know, Littleton was key in the first "workshop" for working glass out of small furnaces and from his teaching position in Wisconsin turned out many key people in the art glass movement. The articles also show some of his later glass making it clear how good and interesting it is. Also included is a feature on Bill Boysen, who came out of Littleton's program and built his own program at Southern Illinois University and a diary of a trip to Japan by Brett Littman. As is usual, the brilliant color ads for galleries show examples of what is happening in hot and warm glass today. I was struck by the star fish of Catherine Rahn in place on a reef and by the clear etched glass work for Steuben of Lino Tagliapietra who is much better known for his Venetian color techniques. 10/5/98

CARLYN GALERIE [6137 Luther Lane, Dallas TX 75225, 214-368-2828] hosts "A Galerie of Glass '98" beginning with an Artists Reception October 22, 6:00- 8:30 and continuing until November 15th. On November 8th, David Keens will host a demonstration at U.T.Arlington - call the gallery for reservations. Artists included in the show include: Leon Applebaum, Lucy Bergamini, Marc Boutte, George Buecquet, Robert Burch, Fiona Clark, Phyllis Clark, Marc Eckstrand, Cynthia England, Greg Englesby, Linda Ether, Diane Flynn, Chris Hawthorne, Bronwhen Heilman, David Keens, Lucartha Kohler, Takahito Komure, John Leighton, Robert Levin, Steven Main, Debra May, Bill Meek, Ed Merritt, Roger Parramore, Thomas Philabaum, Toland Sand, Vera Sattler, Charles Savoie, Christian Thirion, Kay Thomas 10/15/98

On October 22nd, I went to the opening of "A Galerie of Glass '98" at CARLYN GALERIE [6137 Luther Lane, Dallas TX 75225, 214-368-2828] which continues until November 15th. (On November 8th, David Keens will host a demonstration at U.T.Arlington - call the gallery for reservations.)

The show is a modest one, but includes good pieces of glass from several nationally known artists.

Takahito Komure caused the most comment at the opening, partly because e- mail and fax had not resulted in any prices, but mostly out of disbelief at the pieces being shown. A couple of very nice goblets with gold in them contrasted completely with quarter and eighth segments of 7" solid crystal spheres with two layers of gold leaf within. The problem viewers had is that the inner layer is evenly solid around the sphere and contains line drawings of Egyptian hieroglyphs as clear lines in the gold. The second layer, about an inch out from the first, was more ragged, but contained writing. The staff knew that the inner layer represented religion and the outer was science as represented by fragments from Einstein's diaries. But how was it done. Because of the even detail of the inner layer, I felt fairly sure it could not have been worked hot, so it had to have been made, annealed, had the gold applied and drawn, reheated, gathered over, then either reannealed, gold, drawn, reheated, regathered or possibly, because of the fragmentary nature of the leaf, the gold leaf might be applied to paper, drawn on, then picked up hot, the paper burning off. The former is like the technique of grahl, were painting is done while cold. After a time of speculation, Karen Boden, from Sable V, came by and said that she had asked when the pieces were showing at her place and the repeated annealing was the technique, with 75% losses.

David Keens had several pieces, including one featured on the announcement card, that were tall vase shapes with silver leaf in bulbous bodies, small bases and ultra small necks. He also had a very nice clear dragon goblet with interesting surface detail effects.

Kay Thomas and Tim Hanlan were represented by some very nice large fused plates shimmering with color. Dehanna Jones had an item I had not encountered before: wall vases - 8-10" tall hot worked vases that hung on the wall and could not free stand. A nice touch and gift priced at $50 each.

Other artists included in the show include: Leon Applebaum, Lucy Bergamini, Marc Boutte, George Buecquet, Robert Burch, Fiona Clark, Phyllis Clark, Marc Eckstrand, Cynthia England, Greg Englesby, Linda Ether, Diane Flynn, Chris Hawthorne, Bronwhen Heilman, Lucartha Kohler, John Leighton, Robert Levin, Steven Main, Debra May, Bill Meek, Ed Merritt, Roger Parramore, Thomas Philabaum, Toland Sand, Vera Sattler, Charles Savoie, Christian Thirion, 10/25

LALIQUE I went to the Lalique show at the DMA and was impressed by the jewelry and glass shown in what was a much larger show than I expected.

From a furnace glass worker's perspective, the show was a bit daunting, because virtually all of the glass used in the jewelry as well as the glass vases, etc., had lots and lots of coldworking techniques applied to them, including acid etching, blasting, ultra fine detailed carving and color toning to the cold work all of which goes in a direction I don't want to go.

Many of the jewelry pieces used glass carved into animals not often seen in modern jewelry including mice and lizards. In many cases the carved figures were so small they were more of a curved or line element in the design and only revealed as animals on close examination. However, I would expect a good lampworker or bead maker might find a wealth of ideas for upscale jewelry for figures in metal mountings.

Two pieces featured glass with part of an image carved in the back and part cast and carved into the front, for example, "The Kiss" with the man projecting from the front and the woman carved in the back with their lips almost but not quite meeting in the center.

A piece that caused comment and disbelief was a small square broach framed with four glass panels each about 1/4" by 1" mounted with metal. On each pane was carved a figure of a woman, perhaps 3/4" tall, but appearing dimensional in the carving.

The two types of pieces of most interest to me were several assembled goblets where glass, rather thin, was blown into silver shells to bulge thru holes cut in the silver, and a small cup or vase with figures sculpted in color out from the clear body of the glass.

All of the silver goblets were assembled from two or more pieces, one with a cast and carved chunk of glass between the bowl and the stem. The silver was meticulously worked, providing smaller holes though which the glass could seen and larger ones that allowed the glass to bulge through. The most effective piece for me used deep amber glass and silver allowed to be quite dark. The glass was both inside the bowl and inside the foot and lower stem.

The vase had a pair of figures that can most easily be described as angels, spread wings with trailing "feet" below them. The head and shoulders of the women project from the surface. Below each "angel" in green were two brown lines of plant material - stem and seeds. Because of the quality of the base glass the piece could not have been mold blown to cast the figures. I suppose the figures could have been lampworked and applied, but the grain could not, too fine, so probably both were created by blowing the piece clear, then applying color to be etched and carved away.

The show is commercially sponsored, by Lalique, but curated by a respected museum person. I considered it worth going to. It runs in Dallas for about a month more. If anybody asks, I will track down where it goes next. 11/4/98

PUTSCH Fine Glass-Blowing Tools [ P.O.Box 5128, Asheville NC 28813, 828-684- 0671, 800-827-8427, FAX 828-684-4894] has sent their lastest flier catalog. Putsch makes tongs, jacks, shears, pipes, punties, gathering rods, and certain other bits. When I have had a chance to handle their equipment, I have found it a bit heavy. Jacks with oval, round, or flat blades, 400 mm (about 16 inches) $53; murano style jack, 9" tear drop blades $84; while 300 mm handles for wooden rods or paper are $53, cherry wood times being $12. Tongs/tweezers, 300 mm, are $25 for flat, narrow shoulder, pointed, and pointed curved. Combination (diamond) shears are $99 while straight sheers are $48 and $41, all with large or small handles. Putsch also imports Meniconi shears from Italy, straight shears with 40 to 200 mm blades $68-108, combination 100 & 125mm blades $125 & 145. Standard blow pipes are 1400 mm long with 150 mm heads from $90 for a 20 mm head to $164 for 32 mm, the lowest prices with steel tubes, higher with stainless steel, 3 mm wall thickness, 16 or 19 mm OD. Punty rods are $31 to 49. Gathering irons $25.75 to $33.10, 25 mm to 100 mm heads. Other items offered include gathering ladle heads ($93.70) and two style of ball bearing forks for supporting pipes $81.50 & 124.50. 12/8/98

A GLASSBLOWER'S COMPANION - Dudley Giberson [Joppa Glassworks, Inc., P.O.Box 202, Warner NH 03278 603-456-3569 FAX 603-456-2138, e-mail] announces via post card his completion of A Glassbower's Companion, ready to ship in mid-December, 136 pages 300 illustrations, $39 including shipping.

Having gotten my copy, I am impressed by the book. This book is primarily an equipment book with excursions into the history of working glass and how it might have been done down through the centuries. If I had to position it with respect to Henry Halem's book, Glass Notes, I would say that while Henry has a bias toward big expensive equipment and offers a lot of casting information, Dudley has a bias toward buildable equipment and offers many hints on bead making. For a person starting to build equipment, I would say that Dudley's book is more useful. The content of the book includes 5 glory holes, 10 glass melting furnaces, 5 annealers and 5 accessories involving heating. Each of the first three groups includes items that are more useful for theory, philosophy or history than for construction. There are a lot of well done computer assisted drawings.

Dudley offers a lot of detail and specifics on gas burner systems, given prices and part numbers, as would seem likely for a person who sells burner heads. There are many strong opinions and references, charts and formulas to serve as a starting point for many tasks. Information ranges from cutting a mold to using 3 phase power. It is obvious the man has built a lot of equipment and learned from failures and half-successes.

This book has leaped onto my list of must own books for furnace workers. Henry talks more about coloring and using glass, but for exposure to the range of work involved in furnace glass working, I will recommend one of Ed Schmid's books and this one. 12/27/98

The card says "this book is about Giberson's views on glass technology. It is a collection of designs, essays, and glass making ideas which focus on the underlying philosophy of hot glass. [It] will be of interest to anybody who works with glass whether he/she is a glassblower, a pate de verre caster, or modern beadmaker. Archaeologists will be especially interested in the ancient glass explanations, as Giberson focuses on simple ideas that actually work."

That paragraph matches what I would expect from Dudley, who has provided burner heads, heating elements and advice to glassblowers for years and has talked about his interest in ancient glass techniques at G.A.S. Conferences. Dudley developed, patented, and sells a ceramic burner head that has set the standard for furnace glass workers - quiet and steady while giving good heat. His handwritten catalog has provided basic information about choices for melting and annealing glass for years. In the past, he designed an automated glassblowing bench that put a gear on each pipe or punty to turn them at an even rate - as I saw demonstrated in North Carolina. I look forward to reading the book. 12/15/98

Hot Glass Bits is a personal chronological record of my wanderings through glassblowing 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 glassblowing. If it is useful to others, it is worth the effort.

WHOAMI? - Mike Firth is a 54 year old, low experience glassblower who signed up for his first class in '91 without having seen anyone blow, although he had seen TV shows, and had done stained glass and worked clear tubing in the past. He has built cheap equipment in his back yard to learn and practice and is now on his second round, more traditional, of equipment. When not blowing, he is a married employee of the best hardware store around.

The legal stuff: Working glass is inherently dangerous, involving heavy materials that can be razor sharp, so hot that damage can be done before feeling occurs, with chemicals immediately poisonous, dusts that can damage the lungs, and heat sources that can wreck the eyes. Understand the safe practices required and use them to blow beautiful glass.

Blow Good Glass

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