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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2013-06-05, 9:09pm
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Default Soft Glass Off Mandrel Sculpture Tips

there have been a few threads recently that sparked some interest in off-mandrel soft glass sculpture. Let's play and share tips with each other as we go. Please post your successes and failures and lessons learned and questions to share with the community what works, get advice, etc.

here are a few links to some info on LE and YouTube for reference.

lots of great info here, especially on page 2
http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=243305

butterfly - keep it hot the whole time technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFwtVo6NrEY

our very own Hyper T making fish:
http://vimeo.com/59742340
http://vimeo.com/59805293

the incomparable Wes Fleming making stuff and discussing the art
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbJZLKzPbqA
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Last edited by AmorphousDesigns; 2013-06-05 at 9:27pm. Reason: add links
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  #2  
Old 2013-06-05, 9:25pm
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so I tried making a butterfly tonight. Will post results tomorrow.

So far I can say the first one was a complete disaster.
tried the "keep it hot the whole time" method, but then one of the wings cracked off, so I tried making the wing separate, kept it warm on the hot plate, then attached to the body, lots of "tinking" sounds and it fell apart when I finally put it into the kiln

2nd attempt was a full commitment to making the wings separate and attaching to the body. Much better this time. I made the wings, set on hot plate, made body, kept body hot, used molten ball on end of rod to make a cold seal punty to each wing as I picked it up to attach to the hot body.

Lessons learned:
make blebs of glass on the body and on the wings, just heat those up to attach
make big dots on the head for pulling out later for antennae. The pulling out of the first one was fine, but then it kept going all wonky as it got heat splash while I was trying to pull the second one. Need more practice on moving around the object and getting the pinpoint flame just where it's needed and NOT where it's not wanted.

will post pics tomorrow
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  #3  
Old 2013-06-05, 9:39pm
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What kind of tips are you looking for? Pretty much everything I make is off mandrel soft glass. It's really all about practice. You have to "feel" the way the glass moves and once you've reached that point, it's pretty easy.

I know that sounds cheesy, but after a few days of practice, you'll see what I mean.







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Last edited by shawnette; 2013-06-05 at 9:45pm.
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  #4  
Old 2013-06-05, 9:44pm
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^^ Those are all old pics. The pics more recent work are huge and I'm too lazy to resize.

When I'm working, every once in a while I'll spin my object in the flame really fast to heat it up but not melt. It heats it pretty evenly and I don't have too many cracking issues.

Save the fine details for last so that they don't get melted in.
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  #5  
Old 2013-06-05, 10:11pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnette View Post
What kind of tips are you looking for? Pretty much everything I make is off mandrel soft glass. It's really all about practice. You have to "feel" the way the glass moves and once you've reached that point, it's pretty easy.

I know that sounds cheesy, but after a few days of practice, you'll see what I mean.







These are adorable, Shawnette! You need to post your work more often
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  #6  
Old 2013-06-05, 10:14pm
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Wow those are amazing Shawnette!
That butterfly is pretty neat too, Elizabeth. I want to try that!! Thank you for the You Tube links, I am going to save them to watch later.
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  #7  
Old 2013-06-05, 10:26pm
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Default butterflies

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmorphousDesigns View Post
so I tried making a butterfly tonight. Will post results tomorrow.

So far I can say the first one was a complete disaster.

Thanks for all the links, Elizabeth! As someone only doing off-mandrel, I appreciate it. Will view them later.

Butterflies are deceptively difficult, aren't they?

I tried making a butterfly twice so far, with about a 2-inch wingspan and body. I attempted to copy the technique I saw Vittorio Constantini do (bug master). The first one failed terribly because the Mega Minors at the studio were occupied, and I cannot get the Minor hot enough to melt big blobs of glass quickly or the flame wide enough to keep the whole thing warm in it. So I ended up with a moth with wings heavier than its body, and then one wing cracked off in the kiln.

The second one turned out better in terms of proportion, but equally unattractive. However, I did manage to make nice delicate ultra-thin stand-up legs on it (which I later knocked over and broke anyways.)

What I like about glass is that no matter how I mess up, I learn something NOT to do next time, and most future attempts at something are better... even if only slightly so. Very encouraging.
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  #8  
Old 2013-06-05, 10:35pm
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Default Punties

Shawnette,

Do you have any "trick" to
1) getting a punty to attach and not suddenly snap off while working and
2) removing a punty cleanly? (without leaving a glass trail or remainder)

... before putting it in the kiln.

I am not getting it consistently right, and need a RULE OF THUMB, I think. I have tried having the attaching object cooler with a hot punty, hotter object with cool punty, and both hot. I have not been able to determine one working better than the other.

Also, do you ever use a boro rod for a punty?

One more question... I noticed you leave your punties on some of your items, put them right in the kiln. How do you then remove them afterwards? I have never tried that.

Thanks for any wisdom you care to share!

-Tami
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  #9  
Old 2013-06-06, 11:55am
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Do you have any "trick" to
1) getting a punty to attach and not suddenly snap off while working

Use boro. Haha, just kidding!! (Sort of.)

This is something that I still haven't perfected, though I have much better succes now than in the beginning. You have to be careful not to get the punty hot again once it cools. It still happens to me, but not as much as in the beginning and it never happens if I use boro punties.

If it pops apart, don't panic. Just pick it up, reattach, reheat and keep working.


2) removing a punty cleanly? (without leaving a glass trail or remainder)

I use a pointy rod. (Heat the end and roll it into a point, like a pencil.) Heat the point to glow, wait a second or 2 then attach to object. The object that you're attaching to should be warm but not glowing. If either is too hot, it will be a hot weld and wont pop off cleanly. Any glass left behind can be picked off and then flame polished. You should always flame polish, anyway because the punty will usually leave some sort of mark. If it's on the bottom of something that stands, no biggie. just heat and mash it flat.

... before putting it in the kiln.

I am not getting it consistently right, and need a RULE OF THUMB, I think. I have tried having the attaching object cooler with a hot punty, hotter object with cool punty, and both hot. I have not been able to determine one working better than the other.

Also, do you ever use a boro rod for a punty? Yes. Same pointy rod technique as above.

One more question... I noticed you leave your punties on some of your items, put them right in the kiln. How do you then remove them afterwards? I have never tried that.

If you're referring to the photo above, those are swizzle sticks. (They're permanently attached.)

Otherwise, if I'm working on something and have to kiln it, I use a small, but hot weld. It will hold up to going in & out of the kiln but is pretty easy to detach.

Thanks for any wisdom you care to share!

-Tami
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Last edited by shawnette; 2013-06-06 at 11:57am.
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  #10  
Old 2013-06-06, 11:59am
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I make off mandrel pendants in soft glass. I always use a pointy clear punty for the final stages of shaping, then snap off the piece using heated marble tongs check for punty marks and throw it in the kiln.
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Old 2013-06-06, 11:13pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnette View Post
Do you have any "trick" to
1) getting a punty to attach and not suddenly snap off while working

Use boro. Haha, just kidding!! (Sort of.)

This is something that I still haven't perfected, though I have much better succes now than in the beginning. You have to be careful not to get the punty hot again once it cools. It still happens to me, but not as much as in the beginning and it never happens if I use boro punties.

If it pops apart, don't panic. Just pick it up, reattach, reheat and keep working.


2) removing a punty cleanly? (without leaving a glass trail or remainder)

I use a pointy rod. (Heat the end and roll it into a point, like a pencil.) Heat the point to glow, wait a second or 2 then attach to object. The object that you're attaching to should be warm but not glowing. If either is too hot, it will be a hot weld and wont pop off cleanly. Any glass left behind can be picked off and then flame polished. You should always flame polish, anyway because the punty will usually leave some sort of mark. If it's on the bottom of something that stands, no biggie. just heat and mash it flat.

... before putting it in the kiln.

I am not getting it consistently right, and need a RULE OF THUMB, I think. I have tried having the attaching object cooler with a hot punty, hotter object with cool punty, and both hot. I have not been able to determine one working better than the other.

Also, do you ever use a boro rod for a punty? Yes. Same pointy rod technique as above.

One more question... I noticed you leave your punties on some of your items, put them right in the kiln. How do you then remove them afterwards? I have never tried that.

If you're referring to the photo above, those are swizzle sticks. (They're permanently attached.)

Otherwise, if I'm working on something and have to kiln it, I use a small, but hot weld. It will hold up to going in & out of the kiln but is pretty easy to detach.

Thanks for any wisdom you care to share!

-Tami
Thank you, Shawnette. I will give all your tips a go!
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  #12  
Old 2013-06-07, 4:40am
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Thank you so much for the video links. I don't do much off mandrel work but I picked up some very useful tips for fish fins. I do have to laugh at Hyper T's tools.....a huge old knife and a pair of pliers. Why do I have about $500 worth of tools all over my desk when I'm making a fish??? Made me scratch my head. He's terrific and I love the final fish he made. Thank you again for starting this thread....great for all lamp workers on or off the mandrel.

Angie


Quote:
Originally Posted by AmorphousDesigns View Post
there have been a few threads recently that sparked some interest in off-mandrel soft glass sculpture. Let's play and share tips with each other as we go. Please post your successes and failures and lessons learned and questions to share with the community what works, get advice, etc.

here are a few links to some info on LE and YouTube for reference.

lots of great info here, especially on page 2
http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=243305

butterfly - keep it hot the whole time technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFwtVo6NrEY

our very own Hyper T making fish:
http://vimeo.com/59742340
http://vimeo.com/59805293

the incomparable Wes Fleming making stuff and discussing the art
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbJZLKzPbqA
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  #13  
Old 2013-06-07, 4:58am
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Wes is totally crazy - my introduction to lampwork was a class with him. Before I got to the studio room he lit the propane flame on all the torches (about ten minor burners) and then crouched on top of the desk behind them and sort of chuckled as all the students were entering... rather surreal experience. I watched him make a bug one time and it takes him roughly two hours to make one. He said that he usually has to make five before he gets one that doesn't crack. The process is pretty simple though - make the body, anneal, and then make the legs/antennae. I tried making one on my second day lampworking - it was a hilarious attempt and we all had a good laugh.
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Old 2013-06-07, 7:47pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ View Post
Shawnette,

Do you have any "trick" to
1) getting a punty to attach and not suddenly snap off while working and
2) removing a punty cleanly? (without leaving a glass trail or remainder)

... before putting it in the kiln.

I am not getting it consistently right, and need a RULE OF THUMB, I think. I have tried having the attaching object cooler with a hot punty, hotter object with cool punty, and both hot. I have not been able to determine one working better than the other.

Also, do you ever use a boro rod for a punty?

One more question... I noticed you leave your punties on some of your items, put them right in the kiln. How do you then remove them afterwards? I have never tried that.

Thanks for any wisdom you care to share!

-Tami
I've never understood the punty deal, it's over my head..I make everything on the end of a mandrel and use another mandrel if I need to move it off the first mandrel. I'd like to learn a better method but the mandrel works okay.
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Old 2013-06-07, 8:24pm
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I learned a neat trick with the punty at GlassStock a couple of years ago;

to pick up a leaf, petal, wing, whatever that you want to attach to something

first marver the tip of your punty rod to a pencil tip shape

then get the tip molten hot and, quick like a kitty, slide the molten tip of the punty up to the edge of your petal/wing/fin. The molten tip usually will adhere to the petal and then you can pick up the petal with the punty and attach to the body.

the punty is only very lightly attached to the wing, so you cannot put too much pressure or torque on it, but the flip side is that it detaches very easily and very cleanly.
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Old 2013-06-07, 8:36pm
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Default first attempt at butterfly

I watched the butterfly video and thought to give it a try

the first attempt was not good, lots of cracking issues. But I do like the wing shape better than the second attempt, probably because I made these wings directly on the body and could see better how to get the proportions I desired.


the next one was better, less cracking. I made the wings separate and attached later. Not so keen on the wing shape and it was harder to match them as I couldn't use the first one for reference (my hot plate is black). Next time I will sketch the desired shape life size and from a top down perspective as a guide to make them the same.
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Old 2013-06-07, 9:00pm
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Y'all ever heard of a cold seal? It's really cool - similar to what Elizabeth is talking about. If you take any old rod of glass you can heat a small section and touch it to your piece to make a handle. The difference in temp causes a small weakness to form where the two meet. When you want to remove the handle/punty all you have to do is tap it against something (I usually use the graphite marver on top of the torch). I suggest making a lumpy object (not a marble) and seeing how many times you can transfer from handle to handle to handle. If you want to transfer from one handle to another, you have to tap off the original handle before the new one cools and forms the weakness... it's a super useful skill to have but takes some timing. I always have trouble with these when I change COE because the timing is way different. Good luck!
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Old 2013-06-07, 9:02pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAuYzysQzXA
have a look here
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Old 2013-06-08, 1:52am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by castaway View Post
At 2:28 in the video:

SNAP!

off Vittorio pops the punty, completely effortlessly!!

THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO BE ABLE TO do, darn it! It looks so freakin' simple... why is that so hard....
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Old 2013-06-08, 2:04am
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Here are my inititial "let's wing it!" (no pun intended!) clumsy attempts at a butterfly with identical wings. The one on the left was worked too hot/wide: when I tried to do one leg, the other would burn down (not to mention ridiculous proportions on the wings); the one on the right was in a flame I could not get hot enough or big enough. (Poor photo, I know, but I never intended to show them to the world when I took it...)


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Old 2013-06-08, 4:17am
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Here's the best advice I've ever gotten for doing things like wings where they need to be identical: do the second one first. Makes no sense until you're sitting at the torch... lol.

Btw the red butterfly is really beautiful - it has a wrinkly feel to it that probably came from struggling to get them the same size or whatnot, but you should consider that as a legit process because the outcome is very butterfly-ey.

http://mivvie.files.wordpress.com/20...ings.jpg?w=238

Also, with regard to the legs, you might consider a two stage process to creating them. Make the body and wings and leave six studs from which you can then draw out the legs from later on. Since the stud is a small tip the flame won't shatter it as long as you keep it off the body. Good luck!
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Old 2013-06-08, 6:42pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Hardcastle View Post
Here's the best advice I've ever gotten for doing things like wings where they need to be identical: do the second one first. Makes no sense until you're sitting at the torch... lol.

Btw the red butterfly is really beautiful - it has a wrinkly feel to it that probably came from struggling to get them the same size or whatnot, but you should consider that as a legit process because the outcome is very butterfly-ey.

http://mivvie.files.wordpress.com/20...ings.jpg?w=238

Also, with regard to the legs, you might consider a two stage process to creating them. Make the body and wings and leave six studs from which you can then draw out the legs from later on. Since the stud is a small tip the flame won't shatter it as long as you keep it off the body. Good luck!
Kind of you to say, Max.

I did do the little Italian trick of leaving the nubs for the legs; my problem there was that each leg was so delicate, a couple mm thin, that being even slightly near to the flame while I pulled out the leg next to it caused it to wither upwards. I think I not only need to make as narrow of a flame as possible next time, but also to try and space the legs out more.

I do only have 70 hrs or so at the torch under my belt so far, and I have a tendency to try to run before I can walk; (I get so excited by the possibilities!) I really do need to focus on mastering basic heat control more than anything.
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  #23  
Old 2013-06-09, 2:50pm
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I love making sculptural stuff but so far have done 99% of mine as sculptural animal beads or critters on the mandrel. I'm very intimidated by working off mandrel, other than marbles - I have been practicing them enough that I feel somewhat comfortable with them.

When you search YouTube for videos, what do you put in your search specifically for off mandel work in soft glass? (I am search challenged, and very seldom ever use YouTube, sadly.)

I have promised myself I am going to focus on practicing more off mandrel work in soft (I don't do boro), and I think watching a bunch of videos would help me gain confidence in the process.
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  #24  
Old 2013-06-09, 3:07pm
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"off mandrel" pulls up decent results, then once you select one that looks interesting You Tube suggests other similar types of videos. You can lose days just watching videos, LOL.
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Old 2014-01-02, 12:24pm
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question about annealing. I am working on making a dragon in soft glass. I am doing OK with the punty and getting better at working in one direction and not letting the flame go back to a colder spot. So, now I get to a point where I've got a very cool bottom portion with the punty on the tail end, while I'm working my way up to the torso and getting the shoulder and neck bumps. I think I want to anneal before starting to do detail arms, head and wings. Should I place it into a hot kiln (950F) or put it in cold and use a slow ramp up schedule?
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Old 2014-01-02, 8:45pm
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Elizabeth, if I were you I'd set the entirely cooled piece into a cold kiln, ramp up and hold at annealing temp; if you're not able to heat the entire piece before going into a hot kiln, the colder sections might crack! Don't take a chance!!!!
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Old 2014-01-02, 9:00pm
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DeAnn, yes, good advice, better safe than sorry. #1 dragon was cracked, I had put it cool into hot kiln, good lesson.
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Old 2014-01-05, 1:30pm
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AmorphousDesigns AmorphousDesigns is offline
Wonder-wench
 
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just took #2 dragon body out of kiln, yah! no cracks. I put it into a cold kiln and ramped up to 930 over 2 hours, annealed at 930 for 1.5 hours (very conservative, I know) and ramped down slow. So far, so good. Now the big challenge of adding fore arms, head and wings. Keeping fingers crossed.
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