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

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  #1  
Old 2007-06-23, 6:35pm
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Thumbs up What to Get

I'm just about ready to start setting up my space but not sure what the best stuff to get is. I basically need everything but need to get things as inexpensive as possible for a basic set up.

Could anyone give me a list of what I will need and how/where to get it as low priced as possible ? Can you get this stuff used ? I dont mean to be cheap, but I have to be at this point

Many Thanks
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  #2  
Old 2007-06-23, 7:40pm
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I suggest getting the best kiln and torch you can afford so you are happy with them for a longer period of time and therefore a better investment. I love the lynx for a good little torch but the bobcat is also way cool and half the cost. I took classes on a bobcat, bought a lynx for my first torch, and needed an upgrade within a year. That said figure out what you want to make and then buy according to that.

The annealing kilns that I like that I have used are the annealer from the bead hive, and the bluebird from paragon. The bluebird I don't feel is as well made but is less expensive and you can make beads for days. I purchased a Paragon F-120 for many reasons and really love it. I mainly wanted more room for sculptural items.
As far as glass goes. I would ask in the garage sale for someone to put together a sample pack of colors. You will need a graphite paddle and a tungsten pick. You can get most tools cheap if you look around at non lampworking items, but you have to think outside the box on that.

For mandrels you may purchase TIG rod in the 316 strength (welding supply store) in whatever size you want and spend very little on mandrels. This is important in the begining as a newbie you will be hard on them. I think the last time I bought them it was around 15-20.00 per pound. You can get some nice cutters and use a dremel to clean up the ends.

Bead release I love to mix foster fire and bucket of mud toghether. Two 8oz bottles would last a long time.

The only thing I wouldn't skimp on is eye protection and ventilation. Both very important and worth every penny. Do a search on ventilation there are many threads on this full of great info.

Ask in the garage sale for the items you are looking for first and then buy new if needed. You can also find good stuff on ebay from time to time. Good luck and have fun!
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Last edited by Feldt's Glass; 2007-06-23 at 7:45pm.
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  #3  
Old 2007-06-24, 6:49am
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When I first started I budgeted $2000.00 for a basic set up, You will need:
torch
oxygen, either tanked or an oxycon
kiln or access to one for annealing
fire proof work surface
didymium glasses
a very good ventilation system
mandrels
and of course glass
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  #4  
Old 2007-06-24, 7:20am
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Well, I'm afraid that $2000 is out of my league
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  #5  
Old 2007-06-24, 8:07am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxjaw View Post
Well, I'm afraid that $2000 is out of my league

lol... no kidding. that's the price of a full pro setup. most people start on a much smaller scale. for a more frugal start u can begin with following:

-hothead torch ($30-60)
-safety glasses ($10)
-sheet of stainless steel to protect work surface
-crockpot & vermiculite (get the pot secondhand) OR fibre blanket ($12)
-1lb propane or MAPP gas tanks ($3-12)
-different sized mandrels (cheaper if u buy from the welding store and cut them yrself)
-bead release ($4-12)
-1 or 2 fans
-if u like, a couple books on beginning flamework
- shapers - check around the house for tools. i started with a brass butter knife, some old stainless spoons, forks, ice cream scoops for shaping, a steel painter's spatula for flattening beads, etc. just be creative.
-glass - i'd spend the most money (few hundred $)here trying all the basic and fancy colours and accessory items: frit, pixie dust, enamels etc. and just experiment.

Then read the archives here, try all the colours out in every possible variation and see if you like this new artform. if you do, then start upgrading your items (per the $2k budget) as time and yr budget permits. most people here recommend a kiln as the first major purchase so u can start selling beads to fund the upgrades.

good luck and hope this helps!

btw, i LOVE yr sculptures! can't wait to see what u'll create in glass...
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Last edited by ewdb; 2007-06-24 at 8:12am. Reason: fixing typos
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  #6  
Old 2007-06-24, 9:02am
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Exclamation Whew Wee !!

Gee, thanks for the compliment on my sculpture, and double thanks for the heads up on start up cost. I was beginning to despair

I'm hoping my sculpture ability will translate well into glass. Hoping to do some really cool focal beads as well as the regular beads. I find the core vessels interesting as well

Again Many Thanks
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  #7  
Old 2007-06-24, 9:26am
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I'd go with Evelyn's take on it, but I might consider strongly upgrading the torch to a Minor or something like that and tanked oxygen. You'll save it back in months on the price difference between the little 1lb cannisters. You can get a barbeque size tank of propane at wal-mart, brand new, for like $40, and it's less than $15 to fill it. Mine lasts months, literally, even torching 4-6 hours per day.

You'd add in regulators (you can get inexpensive ones that are for oxy and acetylene)-about $60ish, and the oxy tank-probably $100ish plus refill costs. And the torch, which would be $150-200ish.

I know those costs sound scary....but...you could use boro with that set up, at least for small sculptures, which would work much better with the perlite/vermiculite/ slow cooling then batch annealing. Soft glass sculptures don't tend to be very forgiving of batch annealing. And clear boro is super cheap-cheaper than most soft glass, I do believe.
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  #8  
Old 2007-06-24, 9:57am
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I would get the following
Minor (can be had for $100 used or around $170 new)/ Bobcat torch ($125 used to $197 new)

Bbq Propane tank usually around $30 new and then get it filled at a place that refills not exchanges...refills usually are around $13-15 well around here anyway and it will last quite a long while.

rent oxy tank from local welding supply till you can afford oxy con It may cost you a bit upfront to get the rental agreement lease but its usually not too horrible. and the refills are usually only $7-14 bucks. get a tank you can haul yourself though....or get an oxy con around $200-300

Your regulators can be expensive but you can get some inexpensive ones to start with at harbour freight. usually the pair will run you $60-90 there

Dont forget your hoses too usually a pair run about $15-30 at harbour freight as well.

I would get a small kiln with digital pyrometor if you can swing it there are some good deals on ebay and some in the garage sale if you keep your eye out. ive seen some with infinate controllers starting at around $275ish and on up to $475-500 for ones that are really nice with digital controllers on ebay.
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Prints for sale in my
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  #9  
Old 2007-06-24, 11:57am
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I just wanted to say, your sculptures are AWESOME!!!
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Mini cc w/2, 5 lpm concentrators
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  #10  
Old 2007-06-24, 3:02pm
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Brett,
Beautiful sculptures!

Check eBay for items! I purchased someones "kit" from their lampworking class and it had all the basic stuff included and was enough to get me started.
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  #11  
Old 2007-06-24, 4:50pm
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Wink Many Thanks !

Wow, Thanks for the input and compliments everyone
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  #12  
Old 2007-06-24, 5:41pm
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Please don't skimp on the safety! A couple of fans is not adequate, and you have to buy good didymium glasses.
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Old 2007-06-24, 6:08pm
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Unfortunately there is no way around spending some $$ if you want to do it right. I have to agree with Carolyn that safety is the most important, even if you start with a hothead torch. A couple of fans with an open window may get you by initially but is not a long-term solution if you are going to spend hours melting glass. And if you are going to use any glass and/or materials containing a lot of metal, you MUST have a ventilation system.

I started with a hothead and fan system and started reading more. Now I have a "real" system, including respirator when I work with metal such as silver and copper.

Setup $1785 +
Torch (Mini CC, Minor, or Bobcat) $200
Torch accessories (regulator, hose, quick release, flashback arrestor) $175
Oxycon $200-300
Propane $50
Hood, fan and enclosure $400
Kiln with digital controller $600-800
Electrician (for dedicated circuit for the kiln) $100
Respirator $10
Didymium glasses $50

$200+
Mandrels
Bead release
Marver
Graphite Paddle
Tweezer
Tungsten pick
BBQ masher
Glass
Frit

Carolyn wasn't far off when she mentioned $2000. Even with a hothead - you are still looking at about $1500. Your health is too important not to do it properly.
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  #14  
Old 2007-06-24, 7:50pm
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That was $2000.00 Canadian, which at the time would have been about $1750.00 U.S. I had already taken lessons and rented studio time for many months, torching on a Minor, before I set up at home. I had also sold a lot of jewelry made with mine and other artisans lampwork beads, so I knew it could be profitable. Otherwise, I would probably have started out cheaper.
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  #15  
Old 2007-06-25, 10:29am
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tag sale and flea market for 'free' or real cheap tiles for your workspace, and tools.. i love antique tools, soo cool! so effective! um bug your dentist for tools and check out the dollar store, amazing what you can find to work with, storage and otherwise... i found mot of my studio this way, and then decided what i really needed/wanted to work with for "real" toys. I got $500 glass from arrow springs mix match ext... and a few extras, I still have a lot bt i keep buyin more!!!!
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  #16  
Old 2007-06-25, 11:28am
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Some things will cost you more in the long run, like Mapp gas cannisters and cheap kilns/torches which may break down. Better to get quality/a little more expensive things right off. (it's why I didn't rent time for long...at 10$/hr, you'd blow through hundreds if you did it regularly)
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  #17  
Old 2007-06-27, 1:26am
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Whole studio just posted in the Garage http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=58390
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  #18  
Old 2007-06-27, 5:54am
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That is a fantastic deal! Kind of a long drive for Brent from AZ
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Old 2007-06-27, 6:43am
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Brent's in AZ.
He should talk to Brent in FL. (Mr.Smiley)
Smiley (Brent) torches boro OUTSIDE so doesn't have the huge ventilation setup--that would save him some $ initially if he's gonna do boro.

Of course there *are* loads of us doing soft glass on a *budget* with fans--I found my smaller fans pass the "incense" test quite nicely--I don't do enamels, I don't do fuming, I don't do *any* 00 frits, or anything "powdered"--I stick to the stuff that's basic, but for PPP & my little hothead, it's sufficient--and I JUST GOT TO MOVE INSIDE!!! (I've been "outdoors only" for the last long while!!)...now I've just got to get the torch set up! I was waiting to get the fans in & try the incense testing.
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  #20  
Old 2007-06-27, 8:37am
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Brett, do you want to work soft glass or boro (hard glass)? Do you want to make beads or sculpture? You can make sculpture in soft glass -- the Italians do it -- but generally most people sculpting glass in the torch use boro. If you want to do that, you'll need a larger torch than you would necessarily need for soft glass, and you'll need either tanked oxygen or an oxygen concentrator/generator with a more substantial output. If you're thinking of glass for your jewelry pieces, you can work with soft glass, or even with boro on a small scale, and maybe upgrade to a more powerful torch if your budget allows later. (My guess would be that, unless you decide that glass really isn't your medium, you'll keep upgrading your system until you have a Big Serious Torch that will let you do some major sculpture. You might be the next Milon Townsend -- who knows?)

As people have said, the bottom line cheapest way to start is the HotHead -- $30-$40 for the torch, another $40 or so for the didymium or ACE or AUR-92 glasses that you need. You'll want to clamp it to your work table somehow. You can buy work surfaces with torch mounts, or go to the hardware store and dummy something up yourself. You need a flameproof work surface -- metal or ceramic work well. I find a dark surface helps you see your flame better. The HotHead will take the 1 lb cylinders of propane or MAPP gas (brazing fuel) but they get expensive and inconvenient. You can buy a hose to use a bulk tank of MAPP, which is cheaper, but you have to keep bulk tanks outside. Not safe to have them inside, so you have to work out a way to have the tank outside while you're using the torch. It can also be tricky to find a place that will fill a bulk tank with MAPP, I hear. (I never used MAPP in bulk -- switched to a Minor and skipped that stage.) HotHeads are loud and don't give you the adjustability of flame that you get with a propane-oxygen torch. They're also not as hot, so they're slow. It's not feasible to work boro on a HotHead unless you're a masochist.

Whatever torch you choose, you need good ventilation. A fan in a window isn't going to be enough. A range hood might be enough, if you get a reasonably powerful one (the bottom of the line ones from Home Depot aren't enough), and attach baffles to the sides and bottom to increase the capture area so that it catches the fumes from your torch. If you get a big torch, you'll need stronger ventilation.

Here's a quote from a response I did yesterday in a thread from somebody who was asking about the costs of upgrading from a Hothead -- it might give you some useful info:

Quote:
Assuming you go with a concentrator, you'll need a torch (Minor $169, Bobcat $195, MiniCC $229, many other choices at various prices), a propane tank (a standard barbecue tank, which will last a couple months -- maybe $45 or so initially, then $15-ish for refills), a propane regulator ($75 for the one with a gauge, which I'd recommend, although you could get a cheaper one), hoses for propane and oxygen ($24 for the set for 12.5 foot hoses), and an oxygen concentrator (prices vary for a number of reasons, including the psi (output pressure), the warranty, and whether or not the unit has been refurbished -- just to give you an idea of some prices, Hobbiesforus has a 5 LPM unit with a 6 month warranty for $179, Pyronamix has a 5 LPM unit with a 5 year warranty for $375, OxygenPlus has a 5 LPM unit with a 5 year warranty for $485).

That's all you absolutely need. (Unless I'm being completely clueless and forgetting something obvious, in which case someone will point out my error and I'll feel like a nitwit.) Flashback arrestors, which will stop a flame that starts at the torch and begins to travel back down the hose toward the tank, are an optional safety device. There's some debate about whether they're necessary or even useful for a surface mix torch like the ones nearly all of us use. (Everything I've mentioned is a surface mix torch, and any torch you buy for soft glass should be a surface mix.) They're $55 for a propane & oxy set, or $29 for just propane or just oxy. Check valves are another safety device, which stop gas from flowing the wrong direction down the hose. You can get quick connects (also called quick disconnects) that incorporate a check valve for $55 for a set (one for oxy, one for propane). (By the way, I'm copying prices off the Arrow Springs on-line catalog. I don't know how much they vary. It's just convenient for a ballpark figure.) Again, not required. It's just convenient to have quick-connects if you connect and disconnect your hoses frequently, and the check valves are a suggested but not technically essential safety device.
In terms of tools, I'd say you need to buy a graphite paddle. I prefer one about 2x3 or 3x4. I hate the little 1x1 postage-stamp size ones. You need tweezers and/or needlenose pliers. You need something metal with an edge, preferably a non-serrated edge. A butter knife or a paring knife will work. You need something to poke and drag, like an ice pick or dental picks. You need something to put flat on your table to press glass against. A piece of marble, like a marble tile, coaster, or cutting board is nice (bonus if it has a beveled edge you can use as a shaping tool). A ceramic tile may work, too. You can buy a graphite pad to put on your table, but you may be able to find something around the house, at a garage sale or a flea market that works as well. I find rod cutters very useful. They're just tile nippers. You might find them in the tile department of a Home Depot, or in an arts & crafts store in the mosaics department. I like the ones that are just jaws. There's a kind with discs that I can never get to work, even though they're more expensive and supposedly better.
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  #21  
Old 2007-06-27, 8:40am
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OK and Thanks
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  #22  
Old 2007-06-27, 8:48am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lunamoonshadow View Post
Brent's in AZ.
He should talk to Brent in FL. (Mr.Smiley)
Smiley (Brent) torches boro OUTSIDE so doesn't have the huge ventilation setup--that would save him some $ initially if he's gonna do boro.

Of course there *are* loads of us doing soft glass on a *budget* with fans--I found my smaller fans pass the "incense" test quite nicely--I don't do enamels, I don't do fuming, I don't do *any* 00 frits, or anything "powdered"--I stick to the stuff that's basic, but for PPP & my little hothead, it's sufficient--and I JUST GOT TO MOVE INSIDE!!! (I've been "outdoors only" for the last long while!!)...now I've just got to get the torch set up! I was waiting to get the fans in & try the incense testing.

Exactly. I have a Holmes twin window fan set into the window, turned to exhaust, running on high. My torch points toward it (I havecement board screwed to two pieces of wood which stand it just over the fan, so it deflects any heat from the window); the table is over 30" wide. Makeup air is over 10 feet away. I test it regularly with some really stinky incense! There's also a CO2 detector just above my right shoulder.

Before that I torched in a garage with the door WIDE open, with the holmes fan and a fan behind me. Again, it passed the incense test.

The down side to doing the cheap ventilation route is that you are going to get HOT torching if you live anywhere where summers are warmish or humid (90 degrees and up). To keep my AC bills down I close the door between the hallway where the thermostat is and the kitchen where I torch, and of course I don't usually set it much cooler than 84 during the day anyway.

Like Luna, though, I am not using enamels or the finely powdered frits, or blowing shards unless I pull out my Hot Head and work completely outside, WITH a respirator. If I were torching in a basement, or working with boro, or didn't have the handy window *with a door I can open to the outside right behind me if I need it*, or if my incense test didn't work, you bet I'd be spending $$ on ventilation!!! DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR SAFETY. If cheap works--and it can, very well--go there, but if it does not DO NOT FIDDLE.

As for torch, there are pros and cons. I have a Hot Head AND a Bobcat. I don't do boro, so the small torch works great for me. The Hot Head is fabulous for Satake or stringer work; several folks use them exclusively. Satake is GREAT for learning control, because (as Dogmaw says) it melts like buttah. But if you are going to do scuptural work, I'd start with the Bobcat or a Piranha--more power that will last you a longer time; you'll likely want to move on from the HH quickly, given your interests.

Tools--found objects, baby; most inexpesive way to go.

If you ARE Going to do sculpture, though, after you get your basic skill set together you WILL want a kiln.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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