Monday, February 12, 2018

Lampworking 101 - How can I get started

I want to make beads !

In general

When I first started I did not have a proper set up to start lampworking- I had to put it away every time I sat down and played - I then decided if I wanted to do this  - I needed a space that had good ventilation lots of fresh air and a place I did not have to set up and pack up every time.

I opted for a  window that had a fan and an open door  for the make up air  to start - something that  was circulating the air in the area I was sitting.  I put four floor tiles down on a bench  then I  got a sheet of the galvanized metal at home depot to cover my table.

There are beginner kits such as  the fireworks kit - that has basically a hot head torch -
mandrels , glass release for the mandrels and the fittings for the MAPP gas container (you have to buy the mapp gas  at Home Depot or Lowes) .
Nothing wrong with this version - its just slower at glass melting and this can frustrate you to no end  which means you may not enjoy the process.

So what do I really need

A table that can withstand hot glass dripping - ideally if you have a stainless steel table that would be perfect - but not always feasible - As I mentioned go to Home Depot and buy a flat sheet of the galvanized steel  sheeting  in the HVAC section - this is used for duct work and easy to cut to fit your table .

Positioning the table - if you can have it so that the flame will face to an open area rather than to a wall that would be great - but if facing a wall  (your table is typically about 2 feet wide ) you want to protect that wall as well - again a sheet of galvanized metal on your wall will help and protect it.

Ideally a vent of sorts that will take fumes and heat away from your torch while you are playing .  Again visit the HVAC dept go get round or rectangular vents , some metal flexible tubing (like you get for your dryer) and you will need an exhaust fan of sorts that go to the outside  for venting -  I went to  Southern Supply in Oshawa and had them build me a vent hood (was 8 x 5)  the price was ridiculously low - I thought it would be expensive but it was only about 350.00   and then I bought the exhaust fan which was also about 350.00  but the whole thing covers a huge work area in my studio-  you may have to pay about the same for the exhaust fan but in the end well worth it.

Alternate ventilation
to start get a fan that will halp with the circulation of air.  Have a window partially open - this is good in a large open space - like a garage .  Or buy a cheaper vent fan at home depot or princess auto that will extract  air from the room where your working


A proper  torch requires propane and oxygen to give you a hot flame for melting glass . I suggest the Nortel Minor (my fav of 17 years )

or the Nortel Mega Minor
either one are ideal torches


 a standard BBQ tank - a full tank lasts a long time
-Image result for bbq propane tank
guages for the propane tank (fuel guage)  there are various brands out there  - in Canada check out Praxair

flash back arrestor for the propane Image result for lampwork northern flashback arrestor(green oxy - red propane)  I prefer the quick connects (praxiar)

Hoses and fittings - praxair/princess auto , home depot  Gas Twin Hose Set

an oxygen concentrator - there are a lot of brands out ther - the higher LPM  are the ones you want  -   the cost may seem high but compared to tank gas pays off  in the long run(matter of months) and is more convenient

 I have the same 4 concentrators for the last 17 years  ( I use two concentrators on my set up but there are now oxy cons that product sufficient amount of oxygen that you only need 1 to start.

And of course a bead kiln -  Many choices out there - I love my old mailbox kiln and my big silver bullet by the Glasshive  but I also have  a 9" kiln that has a center ring that has an opening for mandrels and I can fuse with it too - so again many choices out there - I prefer the brick kilns - but the fiber kilns are equally as good - its going to be  a huge cost plus shipping here in Canada to find the best deal so check around with various dealers who bring them in such as Nortel for the Paragon kilns.

Other than a kiln options to get you started right away 

If you cant get a kiln right away  then you can use a fiber blanket  (is purchased in two pcs per pack )  or some vermiculite to start - but you need to anneal the beads in the end -
fiber blanket 

vermiculite in crock pot

Tools-Basic tools

  • Didymium Glasses - there are various out there - even basic pair to start is best - I added  bifocals to mine so I can see up close - get something that fits that your not pushing up your nose all the time 
  • Mandrels of various sizes - I prefer a 12" long of any size 
  • Bead Release - there are various brands out there for bead release - I love my fusion bead release in the large bottle - that way you can have larger dips on the mandrel 
  • Graphite paddle for shaping -
    I prefer a basic graphite paddle but there are lots out there to choose from - I like the larger  paddle so you can do from small to large - on one paddle 
  • Tungsten pick - small med large - pick the med to start 
  • Parallel mashers 
Hate to tell you but there are hundreds of designs for paddles and paddles with designs , tools of all sorts - 

 My basics on my table I use all the time 
1 pair of Didymium glasses 
1 leather apron  ( I like to torch in the summer and it protects my bare legs ) 
1 large graphite paddle
1 pair of dollar store pliers with ridges
1 pair tweezers (small )
1 pair tweezers (large)
2 tungsten pics (large) (small )
1 Sharon Sculpting tool (ss handle with razor )
1 set of parallel  mashers
lots and lots of dipped mandrels 

and of course Glass

some places will sell you a mix  grab that as you can then try the different colors 

Ongoing update to this start up - this is to just get you going

will post Nortels version of a start up  which lists all the items you need as well

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lampworking 101 information - will be coming this week

I have been asked to do up some sort of  step by step on how to and what you need to begin lampworking -

I have it pretty much completed but trying to insert pics to help people understand what I mean
 I should have this posted before the end of this week so look for the  Lampworking 101 coming soon and the shortcut will be posted under the turorial section to the left of the blog.

Now that I seem to be over my perpetual Illness (July-Oct  shingles,  company moving from sept to dec  and then december penumonia and bronchitus till now )  I should be coming back to post more often .

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Helping the gradkids with their school project

Helping them do their projects is helping me feel better about getting back into some things I want to do
Last week it was my youngest - and we did a blacksmith shop and she glued and stained the wood and I assembled with hot glue gun  and we made sculpey parts for the inside

and the older one needs a castle to which I scaled the paper and cut it out and she was embossing and gluing  last night - we have to finish tonight for her to hand in friday

Saturday, November 18, 2017

HTV for my Scan N Cut - took a class

I had an intense class on htv -  who knew there were so many choices

we made samples of each and the hand out was excellent  - we could jut put the sample right on it - loved the fact I could record my settings etc   its great
Loved every moment

I brought home some hologram and some of the foil/adhesive to try out 
now if I only had time ......

Snowman Heads !

Yes I got even further carried away making snowman heads
the larger bowls I found at Dollarama - (the smaller ones at Dollar Tree)
I use the white sand from dollar tree as it does have some sparkle and its cheaper than straight sparkles 
I use the minwax polycrylic as the adhesive but you can use anything you want to get it to adhere
the Hats for the large heads I cut on my Scan n Cut  - and the file is from their new year kit - worth it as you can size the hat down for the small snowmen as well and I found decorating was 1/2 the fun 
the face I made with my scan n cut and vinyl 
the accents - I got the red styrofoam balls last year at dollarama  and the greens are the long green wire ones at dollarama just cut into about 2-3" lengths  and I used the white sand again by dipping my finger in glue and rubbing it on and then pushing it into the sand and it looks like snow 
way too much fun - but when I go places I take one with me to give out as gifts 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Getting carried away with Snowmen and Grinch lights

so getting carried away with making Snowmen and Grinch lights
most of it comes from the Dollar tree - hat, scarf, base and the rose bowls , sand
Using Minwax polycrilic clear gloss as the glue and white sand  for the frosty and glitter for the grinch
easy to make and all of this came from learning how to layer vinyl with my Scan n Cut machine

Gelatin Plate Update

I made my gelatin plates back in march - they have been sitting since then  on a counter in my living room where temp during the summer could be 80+ degrees -  I took them out to use yesterday at a class and they are still perfect - and worked well at class -  I have the big one and the small one I made back then (see side bar on right for link to recipe) I do keep them in air sealed containers - one is a cake  storage and the other a pyrex glass seal able container I turned upside down  - so the mix of glycerine /water and gelatine works very well - no mold at all