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Delta-Wye
Sep 29, 2005

Represent!

I've been learning lampworking as a quarantine hobby and was surprised that there doesn't seem to be many posts on SA about it. facebook/insta has basically killed the niche forums and I have a hard time dealing with fb for conversation. I figured there is probably not that many folks here that would be interested, but I figured I'd make a post and see. Sorry about this pretty halfassed OP tho fwiw, it's just gonna be a couple of pictures and an invite for participation for now I want to see if there is interest first before investing in a proper OP, I guess.

What is lampworking?

Lampworking is glassblowing using a torch or other heat source. I've taken a glassblowing glass in a proper hot shop, and gone are the big furnaces or a lot of the 'large' tools, and all of that is missing here. I got interested in trying this watching youtube videos of both, and after a class found the hotshop rates to be too expensive and impractical to do very often. With the pandemic going I have a lot of at-home time on my hands, and a little space I could dedicate to a torch setup.

A lot of what I do is hollow work (pipes, ornaments, etc) and in those cases I'm forming shapes by selectively heating areas and blowing into the vessel, expanding the warm areas. Glass has great properties where the flowrate is predictable if you can control the heatbase accurately. For example, if you blow very slowly in a evenly warm bubble, the wall thicknesses will naturally even out as the thinner areas cool faster and stop expanding before the thick areas. I've found the process of expanding and contracting the glass while trying to get various effects to be very relaxing as far as art you do with a blowtorch goes.

My understanding is that early lampworking in italy was considered women and children's work, while the men made stuff in the hot shop. In a real OP I'd supply you with some cool pics and facts and maybe I'll come back to that. But for now, I'll leave you with the observation that I think it's possible to date a technique by its name. Latticino? Murine? Definitely Italian in origin. Here is my first ornament, a bit more trypophobia inducing than I was aiming for, but oh well.






When you start seeing terms like "wigwag" though, it's probably a more modern technique that came out of the paraphernalia art crowd in the 80s or so on. I think the idea of taking a lined tube and twisting it isn't necessarily novel, there is a bunch of stylistic choices that scream "heady" and not "classy" glass. Here is a an example of a wigwag w/ a reversal (if I have my slang right) which is then assembled using an encalmo technique (that part sounds italian! ) and shaped into a pipe. Not perfect, but good practice.












Handpipes are fun to make, they don't take much material so I can practice lots of different "prep" methods to create various effects and end the end have something useful without a whole lot of material per experiment. Here is another pipe using a similar technique to the ornament, but with a inside-out clear frit (crushed glass) & silver fume center piece. Kinda looks like lizard skin or something, idk.



I do a little solid work as well, mostly marbles. So far I'm just starting to get the hang of some basic techniques so it's mostly abstract shapes; I'm still working on getting enough control to form those shapes into a flower or whatever. Without the ability to blow into the glass, shaping is done by selectively heating the mass and using gravity or pressing with tools or molds to achieve the desired shape.





https://i.imgur.com/lO4GZaw.mp4
Happy melting

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Elviscat
Jan 1, 2008

MESS WITH THE OWL GET DISEMBOWEL





Super cool OP.

I grew up making beads in the shed with my dad on an OXY/PROPANE rig, always wanted to do proper glassblowing, but the costs are prohibitive.

My dad loved glass, he probably had $50k worth of pieces in our house growing up, mostly traded for electrical work on Seattle area artist's studios. He met Chihuly a couple times, said the dude was an rear end in a top hat.

I did get to take one class about a year ago right at the incipient stage of the pandemic.

I'm very interested in the lampwork stuff you posted, seams like a cool technique that bridges the gap between solid working and glass blowing.

Here's my girlfriend blowing some glass:



E: hhow do you anneal your lamp worked stuff? So you use an oven or just a good insulator?

Delta-Wye
Sep 29, 2005

Represent!

Elviscat posted:

Super cool OP.

I grew up making beads in the shed with my dad on an OXY/PROPANE rig, always wanted to do proper glassblowing, but the costs are prohibitive.

My dad loved glass, he probably had $50k worth of pieces in our house growing up, mostly traded for electrical work on Seattle area artist's studios. He met Chihuly a couple times, said the dude was an rear end in a top hat.

I did get to take one class about a year ago right at the incipient stage of the pandemic.

I'm very interested in the lampwork stuff you posted, seams like a cool technique that bridges the gap between solid working and glass blowing.

Here's my girlfriend blowing some glass:



That's awesome. I'm always amazed at home much glasswork happens up here. There are even a couple cool color suppliers in the PacNW that I'm aware of like Glass Alchemy and Momka's Glass, which has a pretty cool story.

https://www.knkx.org/post/81-year-old-bulgarian-grandma-major-figure-seattles-glass-scene

quote:

Momka grew up in communist Bulgaria during a time when all people, including women, were encouraged to become engineers. So that’s what Momka did: She became a chemical engineer specializing in glass technology. She worked for years at a large glass factory in Slevin, Bulgaria, and later started teaching at a technical high school that operated in the factory. She eventually became the director of the school, and wrote “Technology of Glass” (Technica, Sofia, 1993). For almost 40 years Momka learned everything there was to know about glass. And then the Soviet Union dissolved.
that's some eastern European girlboss right there.

Elviscat posted:

E: hhow do you anneal your lamp worked stuff? So you use an oven or just a good insulator?

I bought a dedicated glass kiln. I was finding on larger parts I was letting the glass cool too far while working it. Having the kiln allows for controlled annealing cycles, which is important for stable borosilicate as it reduces stress by cooling evenly but annealing was only part of what the kiln bought me. With boro, when it cools while you're working another section it ends up being very stressed if the flame is played over a cool section it will crack like crazy.

I hold the kiln at 950-1025 while I'm working and stick pieces in there, sometimes bouncing back and forth between two or more projects. This is called 'garaging' and helps especially now that I am starting to experiment with multiple piece construction. I stripped two pieces of clear with green (and a racing stripe, ofc!!) but let the rear end end cool too much while I was working the joint between the two pieces. It got hit in the flame and the previously perfect mouthpiece was sadly no more. It had a nice elegant shape to it that I wasn't able to maintain as I tried and close up the jagged end, but I was able to save the piece. If I had garaged it between the initial joint and the repeated blowing out/condensing of the joint to even it out, it would have been fine probably.

Kaiser Schnitzel
Mar 28, 2006

Schnitzel mit uns




This is very neat OP.

babyeatingpsychopath
Oct 28, 2000
Forum Veteran

I see lampworkers at the Renaissance Fair making little unicorns and fairies and dragons and whatnot. Is that the same kind of technique with the same equipment?

Delta-Wye
Sep 29, 2005

Represent!

babyeatingpsychopath posted:

I see lampworkers at the Renaissance Fair making little unicorns and fairies and dragons and whatnot. Is that the same kind of technique with the same equipment?

Likely a very similar setup, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are working with "soft glass". I've been working with borosilicate which is a formulation that has good thermal properties once it is settled in and annealed, makes it great for smoking paraphrenia, etc. Boro is typically formulated to be ~COE 33, which describes it's rate of expansion as it changes temperature. Soft class has a couple different formulations that sit in the range COE90-COE130 depending on brand and some other stuff. When stocking up and using soft glass, I think you need to stick to one COE for a project but I'm not that familiar with soft glass honestly. Much like the division between D&D and CSPAM, the bead worlds and pipe worlds don't seem to touch online lol. Soft glass should melt easier, stay melted longer, and changing the COE should open up some additional options for colors and stuff that can be embedded in the glass. Melting easier opens up the option for kiln melting or slumping approaches which is more challenging with boro, and I understand it stays molton longer making complicated shaping out of the flame more straightforward.

Colored glass is manufactured by adding impurities to the glass, usually some kind of toxic awful poo poo like cadmium or uranium or something and care has to be taken to maintain the COE value with the additives being present, which means some colors might be slightly higher or lower and not be compatible which is an interesting angle to the whole thing. I love that green color in those last pipe pics, but it will introduce miniature cracks around the green if used internally on a marble or the like as it cools because it's COE rating seems to be pretty far from the typical clear value. It can only be used for outside applications where you can get away with using it, each color behaves noticeably different honestly. In the back of my mind, I wonder if that COE effect is partially why that pipe failed so spectacularly. Basically I didn't get away with using it externally here, probably slightly uneven thickness, resulting in uneven cooling, resulting in a ton of COE-related stress and when you add some heat - poof!

Elviscat
Jan 1, 2008

MESS WITH THE OWL GET DISEMBOWEL





That's cool stuff, I never drove that deep into any of it.

I do remember having this cool gold-fleck rod, that I could not get to loving melt, no matter how low a flame I used and how long I warmed it up it would just explode every time it was moved into the flame.

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Crankit
Feb 7, 2011

HE WATCHES


I saw a cool thing online where someone turned their microwave oven into a kiln that could melt things, including glass. I think I'd like to try that, but they just sort of melted one piece of glass into another piece to make a multicoloured piece, does anyone know if you could melt a piece of glass into a mould so you get castings of glass? What material would you use for that?

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