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

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  #1  
Old 2011-09-29, 4:50pm
Harry Harry is offline
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Default Fireworks question

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site and looking forward to getting to know everyone. I've been making jewelry for a while (chainmaille silversmithing) but this is my first excursion into the world of glass. I have been playing around with my new equipment (Fireworks beginners set) since Saturday and have been reading up on it and watching youtube instructional videos. Here are two things that have come up for me. I was hoping someone might have some insights for me.

I am working with a Fireworks starter set. I'm sure it's not the best setup but do any of you know whether the flame is a little too cold on this equipment (MAPP gas)? I have trouble heating the glass rods quickly enough to get a nice flow (104 COE). On some videos I have seen people pick up the rods, stick them in the fire and are getting a nice flow from them pretty quickly . Maybe I'm putting the rods into the wrong part of the fire but I thought I'm doing it right.

I am also wondering about proper removal of glass waste. Should I just throw failed experiments and glass rod stubs away or is there a better use for them?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I would really appreciate hearing your suggestions.

Harry
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  #2  
Old 2011-09-29, 4:58pm
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With the right equipment you will love to melt glass. Firework torch is not hot enough for me. If you want to start with a small torch go to the hothead.

You can pound the glasss scraps and make them into frit if you want to recycle.
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  #3  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:03pm
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Hi Harry, nice to meet you! I started on a Fireworks set about two years ago. I upgraded to a Minor as soon as possible but that little torch helped me learn some important things, like patience! The flame is definitely cooler but very workable. Several very good artists here use a hothead (a different version of a mapp gas torch) for all of their work.

Keep your glass at the tip of the blue portion of the flame so the color does not get smutty (unless your goal is all gray beads). After using the torch for about 45 minutes you will notice frost on the canister and the flame does cool down then. You can have a second canister ready and switch them out but just be careful of the torch tip because obviously it will be very hot.
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  #4  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:07pm
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My understanding from others is that the Fireworks torch will quit on you very soon. First thing to go is the clicker starter button thingy... as you can guess, I have not been on a Fireworks torch. The hothead is much sturdier. You can do a SEARCH and type in "hothead" and get lots of info on it. It's in the same price range as the Fireworks I think.

You will move on quickly after that. I have both a mini cc and a cricket. I have two oxygen concentrators and they both work fine. Cricket works boro well. I can work boro on the mini cc but the cricket is hotter.

Some move to a minor, rather than the mini cc but the mini cc is hotter than a minor. Depends on what type of glass you want to work.

Sue
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  #5  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:23pm
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Wow, crushing the leftover glass never even occurred to me. I'll do that. I think I might get a hothead before graduating to a minor. I'm a little worried about the cost of the gas on the latter. But the hothead might last me for a little while. I have noticed the lighter of the fireworks head acting funny a few times. Do you guys all have kilns to let your beads cool? I use the fiber blankets but I am noticing shrinking pattern on the surface after cooling. Not pretty and when I try to reheat in the hopes of smoothing out the ripples the beads blow up. Not unexpected really.

Harry
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  #6  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:29pm
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You will need a kiln to anneal your beads. I used to cool my beads in a fiber blanket as well and then batch anneal them in a larger glass kiln from my fusing days. You might want to make a bookcover for your fiber blanket out of heavy duty aluminum foil for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps the heat in more and allows the beads to cool slower, helping to avoid thermal shocking. Secondly, the fibers are not anything you want to breathe so covering it keeps fibers out of the air.

Not sure what size beads you are making but larger (huge-ish!) beads will be more likely to crack than smaller ones.

Where are you located? We may have someone near you who can batch anneal your beads for you.

Edited to add: I wonder if what you're seeing as "shrinking" on the surface of your beads is really just the blanket imprint on the glass. If you put your beads in too hot, your bead will stick & your surface will get kinda cruddy. Don't put them in molten... you aren't doing that, right? You need an overall heat in your beads but let the glow go down... hold your bead under the table where it is dark. When the glow goes is time to put your bead in the f.blanket.

Sue
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Last edited by Sue in Maine; 2011-09-29 at 5:32pm.
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  #7  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:39pm
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When you make frit with the leftovers just make sure you don't use pieces with bead release on them.

My striker went out pretty quickly too but I just used matches.

Is the 'shrinking pattern' circles on the beads or is it little dimples on the bottom of the bead? Circles would indicate rapid cooling from using a press or mandrel while the dimples mean the bead was put in the blanket while it was still hot. Both problems are easy to solve.

Quick question: are you religious about wearing your glasses? I know they are a pain to get used to but don't fool around with your eyes.
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  #8  
Old 2011-09-29, 5:40pm
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Failed experiments: I've seen where many people put them in the garden or potted plants as decoration. You don't want to reuse any of the glass that might have bead release on it, so either clean every bit of it out, or don't reuse that.

Short pieces can be fused to another rod if they're long enough to hold on to (maybe use pliers, etc. if too short)
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  #9  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:10pm
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I'm in Starkville, Mississippi. It would be great if someone where close-by but I don't count on it. I just sat down and made a white bead with some spots on it, just to try and see whether I can get the spacing and the spot-size right. The answer is NO I'll figure it out eventually. I turned up the gas more this time and the glass flowed a little better. I have always waited until the bead looked solid but I was also wondering whether it is an imprint from the blanket. I checked for a glow this time and there was none. I'll see how this one turns out. I'm going to move next summer; hopefully to a place with some classes. I'm definitely looking into a hothead. The igniter on the Fireworks just gave out completely and I had to light with a hand torch I have for silversmithing.
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  #10  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:13pm
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Hi Denielle, the ripples are usually on one side along the bead. They are more wave-like. That's why I was kind of wondering whether they were cooling related. I wear my normal optical glasses when I mess with the glass. Do you think those are safe enough or do I need large glasses to put over my optical ones?

Eileen, connecting the stubs to longer glass rods is a great idea. Thanks!

Harry
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  #11  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:37pm
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The glasses are the ones for lampwork. You wear them over your personal glasses.
They are available from several sources, and in several styles. This is an example:
https://www.clearanceit.com/index.ph...ry&path=50_119

Some of them though are made to fit over your regular glasses. There is also a shield that I'd like to get some day, then you don't have to wear them on your face.
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  #12  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:46pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry View Post
Hi Denielle, the ripples are usually on one side along the bead. They are more wave-like. That's why I was kind of wondering whether they were cooling related. I wear my normal optical glasses when I mess with the glass. Do you think those are safe enough or do I need large glasses to put over my optical ones?

Eileen, connecting the stubs to longer glass rods is a great idea. Thanks!

Harry
What you need is didy's.... they block out the orange soda flare in the flames so you can see the bead you're working on in the flames.

Sue
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  #13  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:47pm
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Harry,

Don't take chances with your vision....have you ever heard of a blind lampworker? Thought not. Nuff said.
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  #14  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:49pm
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Here is a just one of the many threads dealing with eye protection....

http://lampworketc.com/forums/showth...highlight=didy

You only get one set of eyes... protect them. And one set of lungs so make sure of your ventilation system.

Sue
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  #15  
Old 2011-09-29, 6:49pm
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Oh I wasn't aware of that. I'll get them. I appreciate it.

H
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  #16  
Old 2011-09-29, 7:19pm
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Harry, until I got a kiln, I was using a crock pot filled with vermiculite to cool my beads. I warmed it up and then cooled it over time once all my beads for the day were in it. then if you can find someone with a kiln to batch anneal beads for you, you could get a kiln when you're ready for one.

I also started on a hothead torch. I have graduated to a cricket using natural gas and an oxygen concentrator. The energy costs, even with a kiln have not amounted to much at all.

Since no one else mentioned it yet, be sure to work in a well ventilated area. You can find quite a bit of useful information in the Safety forum.

Enjoy!

Cheryl

Last edited by clh; 2011-09-29 at 7:53pm.
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  #17  
Old 2011-09-29, 7:43pm
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Oh yes, definitely get a HH soon! You will love it! I used mine for 18 months before I got the oxy/propane set-up. I still love that torch and they only thing keeping me from working on it now is the lack of stock at my local welding shop. I can't use propane for my HH here. Which reminds me, I need to call the welding shop again to see if they have the tanks yet.

I also had the Fireworks torch in my beginnings and it lasted about 3 months and died. When I got the HH, I couldn't believe how hot it was! It melts 104 quickly enough to make most beginners happy. I like it a lot better for making large focals than I do the Bobcat/generator. I can control my shaping on larger beads easier.
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Last edited by Lisi; 2011-09-29 at 7:45pm.
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  #18  
Old 2011-09-29, 7:52pm
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Harry, there are many videos on YouTube that can be helpful. Just search for lampwork and you'll see lots of lessons/tutorials.

Good luck to you!
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  #19  
Old 2011-09-29, 8:08pm
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Uh! I'll totally try the crockpot idea. If I get the job I'm hoping for I'll get a kiln soon. Otherwise it will have to wait a little. I made a longer bead with the gas turned up more just earlier. It is white but for some reason has some black streaks in it. I think I held the glass too close to the nozzle. I've been looking at tutorials. There are people making awesome stuff. I'm looking forward to learning.
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  #20  
Old 2011-09-29, 9:58pm
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I've used a Hothead for 9 years with propane. I started with the squat 1# camping canisters and then moved to a 15# bulk tank because of the inability to recycle the canisters. The cost savings is huge and I can't tell the difference in heat between Mapp and propane.
Annealing bubbles are a good alternative to a fiber blanket.
I have all my old beads and all my "shorts". I still haven't found a use for them.
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Old 2011-09-30, 6:50am
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Hi Harry,

The glass are a special lense which protects you against the soda flair that comes off the glass. Regular glasses won't protect you from that. They can only protect you against glass that pops off as you heating it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry View Post
Hi Denielle, the ripples are usually on one side along the bead. They are more wave-like. That's why I was kind of wondering whether they were cooling related. I wear my normal optical glasses when I mess with the glass. Do you think those are safe enough or do I need large glasses to put over my optical ones?

Eileen, connecting the stubs to longer glass rods is a great idea. Thanks!

Harry
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  #22  
Old 2011-09-30, 7:05am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holly View Post
I've used a Hothead for 9 years with propane. I started with the squat 1# camping canisters and then moved to a 15# bulk tank because of the inability to recycle the canisters. The cost savings is huge and I can't tell the difference in heat between Mapp and propane.
Annealing bubbles are a good alternative to a fiber blanket.
I have all my old beads and all my "shorts". I still haven't found a use for them.
Our hotshop refills the 1lb propane canisters. They have an adapter that they bought online that hooks to a bulk tank that allows them to refill these. I didnt know this existed. Cool
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  #23  
Old 2011-09-30, 7:44am
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Best bang for the buck is get a MAGNA TORCH MT245...Its about $18- $20 and is what has been renamed or rebranded as a Hot Head ($45)... IT is actually available in some areas in hardware stores.

http://www.magtorch.com/PROP200sub.htm

Bulk fuel is way more cheaper than #1 canisters....

IF you colors are turning dark grey or streaky, you have glass too close in in flame (gray is streaks is from carbon or unburned fuel) and you are actually "burning" the "metals" and "minerals" used in coloring the glass...... Move it out some... Sweet spot will be just beyond the pencil point in center of flame, maybe a inch or two...

Japanese cooling bubbles or vermiculite is better than a fiber blanket for cooling and batch annealing later...

http://www.artcoinc.com/annealing_bubbles.php

Yes get some didymiun or ace 202 glasses to protect eye's and yes they will stop flying shards from getting in eyes, and block the orange flair around hot glass in flame...

Dale
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Last edited by Dale M.; 2011-09-30 at 1:01pm.
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  #24  
Old 2011-09-30, 11:34am
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Good ideas for a beginner.

Dale, I'm glad that you mentioned the annealing bubbles from A.R.T.Co. A jewelry techniques book mentioned using vermiculite for something other than working with glass, and I could not remember the alternative. Thanks!

Yvonne
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  #25  
Old 2011-10-01, 6:03pm
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Thanks for all the info everybody. I learned a lot. I think there might be a small kiln in my near future.

Harry
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  #26  
Old 2011-10-02, 8:55pm
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Hi Harry - I also started with the Fireworks torch. I stayed with it a lot longer than most. My first one worked for a year. I contacted the maker of the torch (DiamondTech) when the igniter quit working and they sent me a new torch. The replacement didn't light either so they sent me another one. They didn't want the first replacement back. The 2nd replacement came and the igniter worked but while working one night I noticed that the end of the torch was RED HOT. I called them again and, you guessed it they sent me another one. I now have a collection of Fireworks torches that all have their failures. I've labled the torches so that I know what the failure is so that I can use them for other stuff (lug nuts, tent worms, silver clay etc)

I thought well of the company for standing behind their product and never doubting my honesty. The product however is very inconsistant. I then went to the Hot Head and was scorching as mush glass as I did with the Fireworks although I did it much faster.

I'm now on a Minor that I bought in the Garage Sale here on LE and I LOVE IT!! Watch the GS and upgrade when you can. You won't regret it.
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  #27  
Old 2011-10-05, 10:00am
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Will do Nance, appreciate it.

Harry
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