Monday, April 30, 2012

Trautman Deep Purple Frit

Trautman Art Glass, Deep Purple, in a frit. This is a 104 COE frit. Who am I, and what have you done with my brain? I'm starting to like frit!

 The frit is a deep reddish purple.

Over clear, and melted in. 

This is Deep Purple, over clear, melted in, and reduced. The clear has fumed to yellow, and the deep purple has gone shades of opaque ocean blue. (It looked more sea green when it was hot.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frit: Taxco

This is Trautman Taxco - available as a frit.

I really enjoyed this frit. More so than the glass, as I remember.

I think I might have been expecting more intense colours from the rods - but I was quite happy with the subtle effects that I got from the frit - especially when combined with other frits - as you will see in upcoming posts.

This bead was a clear base, and rolled in Taxco - which was just melted in. There was a lot of bubbles and it did look sort of scummy at the time - but it came out looking fine.

 This one is also a clear base, rolled in Taxco, and melted in and then reduced. The frit has fumed the clear, giving a golden tone to the clear, and making the frit appear more greenish.

I liked this - I can definitely see uses for spacers like this in extending a set themed on turquoise colours. But, as I said, it gets better in more exotic combos. Stay tuned. 

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Graphite Mold - Stacked Cylinders

Here's another graphite mold for shaping beads. It's sort of a stacked cyclinder - but here's a hint - you don't have to use the entire length of the mold cavity!

I actually found this one to be very easy to use - easier than most of the others I've tried. I started with a cylinder - shaped it, and then added a "spare tire" in the middle, and used the mold to refine the shape. 

 I didn't actually add the 3rd level of cylinders, as I rather liked what I had - and decided to quite while I was ahead!

I think it would look cool done in bright, primary colours - opaques - oranges and greens and yellows and reds and blues. Bright, playful colours. Maybe with some spots or bumps added too. Fun beads!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Looking forward to Class with Jeri Warhaftig

I've signed up for 4 days of classes with Jeri Warhaftig - to be held at the newly re-designed studio at beadFX. As I was the re-designer - I'm looking forward to seeing how well the space is going to work!

A few years ago - ok, quite a few- I think it was 2006 - I bought a bead at auction at the ISGB gathering. I managed to lose the maker's info - but I was pretty darn impressed with the bead. It was - is - I still have it - cobalt blue, iridescent like carnival glass, and with a deeply etched pattern - almost like cut glass. It was hard to believe that it was handmade - the pattern was so crisp and tight and deep. I didn't know about sandblasting beads then - and I couldn't decide if it was carved or etched.

In looking at this bead from Jeri's site - I realize now that it was one of her beads! - and that it was sandblasted. And now I get to take a class with her. How cool is that? (The one I have is very similar to the one pictured! The dark areas in the pattern are actually the sandblasted parts - the glass is cut away there!)

Sandblasting is a process of using a stream of small, rough particles (like - SAND) to carve away part of the bead and leave a textured pattern on the surface. It opens the door to going beyond making beads and gives you many more options to customize your work.  You might also recognize the technique from Diana East's classic beads. There is a really nice video here that gives you some insight as well.

Jean from Nortel Mfg (manufacturer of the Nortel torches, Minor, Mega, Mid-range, etc.) tells me that Jeri is an absolute sweetheart of a teacher - very kind and patient - always good to hear! 

It has meant that the studio bought a whack of equipment for this class - sandblasting cabinet, air compressor, media recovery - so this will add a whole new level to glass beadmaking - as the equipment is not going away, and will be available after. I really want to get my head around how to use the equipment - so that after the class - I can continue to use it and find ways to incorporate it into my own work.

Jeri is scheduled to teach "Demystifying Dichroic and Conquering Copper" - a two-part class on May 3 and 4th. This class is $425 for the two days, and includes all the glass (including the dichro!!!), etc, that you will require. If you have favorite tools, your own glasses, you are welcome to bring them (I suggest marking them with tape or nail polish or paint to make them easy to i.d.) - but everything is provided.

The second class is on May 5 and 6 - the Saturday and Sunday and is "Sandblasting Lampworked Beads." We are installing a sandblasting unit expressly for this class - but it won't be going away after the class - we will still have it available for use - so unless you want it sitting there while you wished you knew how to use it - I suggest you sign up. This class is $450 - and again - everything you need is included. The description of the class states that you "should be able to make large beads with reasonable competency" in order to be successful - which would pretty much describe all the folks who got started by taking a class with me!

If you want to see more of Jeri's work - check out her website at

The classes are just week after next - May 3-4 and 5-6. There are spaces left - so you should jump on this opportunity right now. Jeri is NOT teaching at Bead and Button and has a limited teaching schedule this year - so this is a really good opportunity - especially for those in the Southern Ontario area - as the cost savings of not having to travel to the US are huge! Email Jenny H at beadfx and sign up now!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kiln Troubleshooting

Well - I'm back. Back from some serious time away from the torch and from glass. I think I would like to say that time spent at the torch is not deducted from your allotted days on earth.

Anyway - while I have many new insights on eldercare and aging - having spent a lot of hours staring in the mirror of my future - this blog is about lampworking - so I will save those insights - with the exception of the following: Do the things you love. Do them now. You might live a long, long time - and maybe you'll have another 40 or 50 years to do the things you love - but it would be tragic if you lived another 50 years, but were incapacitated and couldn't do them. Like arthritis robbed you of the fine motor skills in your hands, or you had the physical skills - but not the mental capacity to be trusted with a torch.  

So - as you might imagine - a break of some weeks and I was itching to get back to the torch. As soon as I could, I fired up the kiln, and went off to load the dishwasher while it was heating up. However, apparently my long break without my regular sacrifices of bad beads and exploding rods to the glass gods had angered them, and when I returned to my kiln, it was blinking a message for me - not the happy and warm message of 972 - my temperature of choice, but tcL - alternating with the distinctly chilly 74 of ambient room temperature.


I dug out the manual - which - in defiance of all expectations - I have read and do keep handy for reference. However, there was no mention of a tcL error message - but it did say that tcF was a "themocouple failure." Hmmm. Not a good thing.

I went to the Paragon website for more insight into the error message - and downloaded a newer version of the manual. (Here is a link to it - for the 4.0 controller - just in case you need it. )

The manual was very helpful, and said that tcL is "thermocouple lag" - which is 

The heating rate is slower than 9°F / 5°C per hour, and the actual kiln temperature is more than 100°F / 56°C away from the programmed temperature. The tCL alarm becomes inactive above 500°F. To return to the display, press any key.
  1. Worn or burned out elements, defective relays, low voltage, and defective thermocouple.
  2. On kilns that use a portable controller, the thermocouple has fallen out of the firing chamber.
  3. A bare spot on the thermocouple lead wires has touched a grounded object inside the kiln switch box causing the thermocouple to short out.
  4. You have programmed a cooling segment temperature that is below room temperature.

I could eliminate 4 easily by checking the program. 2 was also easily eliminated - not a portable controller. As it had been working, and it hadn't been moved - 3 seemed unlikely - so something in the #1 cause seemed the most probable.

I held a lit lighter up near the thermocouple - and the temperature readout started to climb - ok - the thermocouple still works.

Checking out the elements was tricky - because it means sticking your head in the kiln - until my s.o. came along and pointed out that I could just use my cell phone camera - just take a picture and then look at the picture.

Good idea! The cell phone can also just provide illumination if that's what you need.

At that point - he got involved and unscrewed the controller and went at it with a multi-meter and determined that the relay had failed. I can do a lot of things - but poking around with a multi-meter and getting meaningful results is not one of them.

A quick phone call to Jean at Nortel had Paragon calling me back, and confirming the part I needed. A replacement relay was overnighted and hubby installed it - and I was back in business 36 hours from the initial failure.

Kudos to Paragon and Nortel for their outstanding customer service. I wish more companies understood that customer service is a value, not a cost! And thanks too to Dan for diagnosing and installing it! ;-)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Brief interruption

No - I haven't fallen off the face of the planet. I am currently dealing with some family stuff - hope to be back soon!