Hot Glass Bits #40

Contact Mike Firth

June 1, 1998 - May 19, 1999 (Printed 11/21/99) Unedited

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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.

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: Steinert Site

Date: 10 Jan 1999 02:15:28 GMT

From: Mike Firth


In wandering the web, I found the Steinert site, to be useful and interesting. Steinert is considered to set the standard for pipes in this country making a good well balanced product at a healthy but not excessive cost. They also have most of the other tools needed in furnace glass working and wandering through the site is a reasonable introduction to tools and their cost.

In addition, they have what seems to be a very good list of people who teach furnace glass working. In the areas I know best the list of classes is very complete. The list is open, so people who teach who are not on the list yet can send information .

Steinert has started offering short pipes and punties for people doing small glory hole work for marbles and beads.

For some time they have offered jewelry based on the tools of furnace glass working, with pipe and casting ladle with a colored jewel bit for the hot glass. Pieces are shown on the site. Mike Firth, Hot Glass Bits furnace glassblowing newsletter

>> What are the cheaper options when it comes to power supplies?

>> Anyone have any ideas on how to cut cost by building it yourself? Anyone done this?

What you are calling power supplies are actually solid state relays (SSR) since you (correctly) use the word controller for the device that times the power. It is possible to build a solid state relay from scratch - I did it following directions in the Teccor Electronics book, but it is probably not worth the effort in terms of saving money, especially in getting a good match to the heat sink. The bits and pieces to make one cost under $20, most of the money going into the mount, connections, box, etc. and SSR's of good amperage cost about $40. (Get the Temperature Handbook, a catalog, from 1-800-TC-OMEGA) An alternative to an SSR is a contactor (large relay, noisy) or a mercury contactor (silent, costs more) which can not be made. A flaw in the SSR not true of the contactors is that the SSR can fail on, thus overheating the glass. This rarely happens, usually because the SSR itself overheats, and some controllers have an alarm output you can connect to a buzzer that will tell when the thermocouple breaks or the temp measured is out of range. >> Could the owens stuff be used on low temp applications like annealers (not

>> exceeding 1100F) ? Will it melt? Could it be used to back the more

>> expensive high temp stuff?

In theory, sure, I am building a box using it that way as a test. However, the fiberglass is one of the lowest melting temp glasses, which is why donated balls of the stuff were used in early art glass furnaces, so it has to be kept a lot cooler than 1100F. My test bed will have an inch of frax and 3" of fiberglass and if the annealler is kept below 950F the glass should not melt behind the frax, being about 700F max. I will measure and test. >> Also I was thinking about using the metal box from an old refrigerator (sans insulation

>> and all mechanical parts).. I don't see why this wouldn't work for a glass wool type fiber

>> annealer, or even a brick based one, and it would save me the cost and welding of

>> making my own box (old fridges are free at the dump)...

Well, old fridges are not free at my dump because of the ozone damaging Freon in them, they are carefully isolated for draining and then the metal is sold as scrap to cover some of the cost of recovery.

When I went looking for an old fridge, I found that most of them were rusted or damaged in some way. I cut the bottom out of one I got, which got rid of the rust and the odd cover for the compressor and used sheet metal screws (not welding) to fasten a thickish sheet of steel in place for a shorter annealer. Sheet metal work has to be done on the door also since it is too thin for the amount of insulation needed.

The worse thing about fridges for annealers is the way they are now made and the time it takes to strip them. A modern fridge has a plastic liner, which is set in place in the metal shell and then the space is filled with a liquid foam insulation that fills the gap. This insulation acts as glue to hold the liner and shell together. I finally used a saber saw with a broken blade (to keep from punching into the shell) to cut the liner and backing into squares which I then levered off. For the time and energy expended, next time I will just get sheet metal and bend it up. I am using what I got, but would not repeat.

The 1999 G.A.S.CONFERENCE [1305 Fourth Ave., Suite 711, Seattle WA 98101-2401 FAX 206-382-2630,] will be held in Tampa Florida, April 29 to May 2, with pre-Conf workshops as early as April 23 and post-Conf as late as May 9. Added events include everything from tours to a golf tournament. Cost of the basic Conference is $210 for registration before 3/15, $245 3/15- 4/15, $265 at the Conference. (Student rates are $85, $110, $135.) G.A.S. Membership is required, $45 basic ($20 student) and up. Detailed brochure is available.

One of the great values of the Conference is the synergy of bringing together people from all over the country and hot glass from all over the world. At the conference it is possible to meet most of the top people who are active in hot glass and all of the suppliers of equipment. Several dozen galleries and museums will have glass related shows during the time of the Conference. During the Conference there will be a number of furnace glass and flameworking demonstrations as well as the more formal panels and talks.

Pre-Conf. Workshops include: Kiln Alchemy, Art of Beadmaking, Hot Glass Trophy, Marble Making at the Torch, Fritz Dreisbach on Bit Work, Jiving to Hot Glass. Post-Conf. Workshops include: Bead weaving and netting, Intro to Fusing, Beadmaking, Stained Glass Beg. Glass in Architecture, Lampworked Panels, Moldmaking and Cast Glass, Solid Glass Sculpture with Pino Signoretto, Combustion Systems, Blow Casting into Sand. 1/28/99

HOT GLASS FACULTY POSTION - (I am not connected with this operation, they sent me a notice and I am passing it on. Emporia has had a glass program for a number of years. The town has one of the few high schools that offers furnace glass blowing, guess where.)

Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial, Emporia KS 66801-5067, 316-341-1200, (application address below) announces a faculty position in glass forming.
Full-time, tenure-track, Assistant Professor of Art (emphasis in glass forming) to begin fall semester 1999 (August 1999)
Teach courses in glass forming and manage glass studio facilities. Teach one or more courses in related area(s) of art, contribute to university service and conduct research appropriate to the discipline.

MFA or equivalent professional recognition required. Must show a commitment to studio activity, evidence of an active exhibition record and be able to demonstrate knowledge of current issues in the field. Candidate must have ability to teach in related area(s) of art. University teaching experience preferred.

Apply in writing with - letter addressing teaching philopophy, professional goals, studio experience and related interests; curriculum vitae; 20 slides of recent work, properly labeled; names addresses and phone numbers of at least 3 professional references, SASE for return of application material.

Deadline April 30 or until position is filled.
Glass Position Search Committee, Division of Art, Campus Box 4015, Emporia State University

Emporia KS 66801-5087 (POSTED 4/4/99)

GLASS PROJECT - Recently, there appeared in (another department of) our hardware store, a pottery vase about 4" tall and 1.5" inches in diameter with an indentation in the back into which a magnet had been glued. Not far away, the same sized magnet appeared on a peg (2 pieces for $1.99, 3/8" x 7/8" x 1 7/8" ceramic block magnet, part # 07044 from The Magnet Source, Castle Rock, Colorado 80104)

This product seems to yell out for use with glass, hot or cold. Silicone adhesive would hold it in place. Torch or furnace workers and kiln workers would have to make a wooden or metal block the shape of the magnet to form the indentation as too much heat destroys magnetic qualities, but stained glass workers would have merely to allow for the place for the magnet in their design and consider whether they would have to put a liquid tight tube inside if it were to hold flowers.

Holding the glass in 3-D away from the surface of a refrigerator would allow light to pass through the glass in a most interesting way. This strong a magnet might also back a hook shaped glass support from which a glass shape might hang and swing decoratively. 4/4/99

GLASSBLOWING DESIGNS - Recently, the hardware store has seen several variations on simple glassblowing designs and one complicated one. The new Garden Odyssey has blown glass hummingbird feeders and a seed feeder that are variations on a single plan of taking a vase shape and using a large rubber stopper.

The hummingbird feeders use a standard bent tube with red tip glass feeder but put it in a much larger black rubber stopper than I have seen used before. This allows a rather simple, and easy to clean, shape for the internals of the feeder, just a cylinder or sphere. Some of the feeders are a heavy glass ball with a glass loop attached opposite the hole for hanging. Others are a tapered vase shape with loop, added glass on some for the suggestion of a flower. All are supported using fairly thick (8 gauge perhaps) aluminum wire formed in hooks.

A seed feeder is both more elaborate and simpler. Imagine a large tapered vase with a ball stem, but no foot, and a large flat rim with the edge turned down. Now turn it upside down so the ball stem can have aluminum wire wrapped around it for hanging and the flat rim with edge becomes a tray with edge turned up to hold seed. A large rubber stopper keeps the seed inside the vase and drilled holes, about 3/8", in the side of the neck, dispense the seed.

In electrical, we have seen two blown lamps of interest, almost certainly from Mexico although credited elsewhere. The first, and simplest, was a cone body with a large flat rim, almost identical in shape to the seed feeder above. However, the stem had been ground off far enough to leave a nickel sized hole from the inside through which wires for electricity and support could be passed. In this case, standard lamp parts, a 1/8" IPS all-tread tube with a couple of washers and nuts supported a socket on a hickey a few inches inside the vase shape to make a hanging lamp, the pleasure of the even translucent color and clean design being the features.

A much more elaborate body kept me late one night. The owner had been told the hanging lamp might be Venetian, but I felt the lack of clear glass and the simple crudity of the metal work suggested Mexico as a source, while still resulting in an interesting substantial hanging lamp. In appearance, the lamp was a large (30" tall) blown glass shape bulging through a symmetrical frame of steel wires. The glass was frosty white and the frame generally formed a head and body shape with a hanging loop at the top. A hole had been drilled in the glass at the top to admit wires for lighting and the head was attached to the body with bolts in the wire frame. The two pieces of glass (head and body) had ground edges so the lamp COULD have been blown in two passes into to the wire frames directly. As we worked, however, and with further thinking after, I concluded that it was more likely that the pieces were mold blown. My reasons started with the 3/8" access hole for the wire which was not well centered on the metal work hole to match it. I felt it had been drilled with the glass separate from the frame although it could have been mis-drilled from the inside if hand drilled. Next the glass was evenly sandblasted, which would not be possible in the wire shape, although it could have been blown in the shape, removed, blasted and returned. Although I would have liked more time to look it over, it was the end of a long day, I was tired and the lights were being turned off in the store. On the way home, I concluded that the most likely way to make the shape was to have a wooden body (or a single glass piece, now that I think of it) that served as a form for sand molds for blowing the glass and as a basis for forming the wire. After the glass was blasted clean, the wire would be enclosed around the glass and soldered in place. Obviously, I can't go back and look for clues, but there were enough joins on the wire to make it possible. Some sort of frame would be needed in any case to allow forming the wire to shape. Perhaps I am short changing the glassblowing skill of my southern neighbors, but the production of glass bodies with 3/16" walls in a shape 22" tall and 14" across by blowing into a wire frame which is then removed for further work seems unlikely when mold blowing is much more controlled for a production situation. Comments are welcome. 5/19/99

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW - If you have missed this PBS series, you might try and catch it. The show travels to various cities, where hundreds of people show up with miscellaneous treasures to be appraised by a large team of qualified experts. A couple of dozen are discussed up close on the screen. There is just the simple fun of watching people who have had something in their family for years discovering that great grandpa's letters or tea pot or chair is worth $5,000 or $12,000 or $30,000. They are very gentle with people who have paid too much for what is a fake, normally shown only as a lesson in how to spot elaborate fakes.

But for us, the obvious reason to watch is the glass. Most shows have at least a couple of pieces and usually the owners have some idea of the quality of their pieces. Galle seems most common, with Tiffany blown and lamp pieces showing up on occasion. The camera work and expert discussion is good enough that one gets an education about the pieces better than out of a book. 5/19/99

Wine glasses can be made a number of ways, one of the most common/easiest these days is very close to what you describe. It makes a somewhat heavy foot.

The bowl and stem are made together, the bowl being blown with thick glass at the bottom which pulled out to make the stem, usually leaving a ball at the end (easier to pull, stronger joint, more pleasing transition stem to foot). A "cookie" is created by gathering a bunch of hot glass and letting it drain onto a marver (like pancake batter on a griddle) making a nice round shape. The end of the stem is driven into the center of the cookie which is picked up and evened up. Then the bowl is separated from blow pipe as the goblet is transferred to a punty or goblet holder and the rim is trimmed and shaped.

Another way of making a goblet foot involves gathering glass on the end of the stem either very hot gather or as a cookie then using a foot former which is basically two pieces of hinged wet wood which form a flat V to pinch the glass to a thin edge.

A third way makes the most delicate, Venetian style goblets. The foot is made by blowing a small bubble which is touched hot to the end of the stem and nipped off the second pipe. The gaffer forms the bubble almost like a second bowl and then reheats and with a touch opens it out and nearly flat. (The stem may also be made of small bubbles of glass placed the same way.)

Additionally, the pieces may be molded in various combinations (bowl+stem mold foot, add separately; stem+foot add to bowl; all three separate, assemble; mold all) 5/19/99

For people in the north Texas area reached by PBS Channel 2, KDTN, the show Chihuly over Venice, following the development of public display of glass (including in the canals) he did there will be broadcast at 9-10:30 p.m. Monday, July 12th. Promos are showing the glassworking closeup as well as the placement and social activities.

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

Hot Glass in Texas

Dallas - Kittrell-Riffkind Art Glass, [5100 Beltline Suite, Suite 820, 214- 239-7957]

Dallas: Carlyn Galerie, [6137 Luther Lane, 214-368-2828] A Gallerie of Glass into November

In Wimberley, southwest of Austin, Sable V Fine Art Gallery, [The Courtyard Overlooking Cypress Creek, 512-847-8975]

The MSC Forsyth Center Galleries [Student Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, 409-845-9251]

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