Sunday, November 28, 2010

Odds and Ends - the Using Up Thereof.

After you've been lampworking for any length of time, you start to wonder - what do I do with all these leftover ends? You try using them, but then they aren't the colour you want right now - or you find you've made truly hideous beads because you were trying to use up the ends.

You try sticking them together, end to end, but they are shocky and if you aren't using them right away, it doesn't really seem to buy you anything.

And the rod grabber tool is great for using up ends, but still - they keep accumulating.

One thing you can do to make these ends more usable is to re-anneal them. Part of the bummer about trying to use them is that they keep shocking and dropping a tip off the end. A half-inch falling off a 4 inch rod is more annoying than falling off a 13 inch rod.

In particular - I accumulate a lot of ends of clear and black. They are very reusable, but the shocking is annoying, so every once in a while, I will pile them in the kiln, and run an annealing cycle - same cycle I use for beads (and if I don't have quite as much as this, I might do it when I am going to make beads.) I don't care if a few of them shock and break, so I don't worry about a slow ramp-up. I just put them in, and ramp up at the usual speed.

When they come out, they are significantly less shocky - and my black and clear ends go and stand in a nice little can for re-use. Punties, bases for more expensive-glass beads, encasing stringer, twisties - lots of uses.

I find they do better on the floor of the kiln. Occasionally I have annealed a shocky batch of full-size rods, and I have to put them on an angle on the rod rest to make them fit. In that case, they tend to come out with a distinctive bend in them. At least then, I can tell which ones have been annealed!


  1. Gail Bryant3:09 p.m.

    Hi Dwyn, I have a question about what annealing is actually doing to the glass... perhaps this is a moot point, but it came up in discussion with "Silver Girl" in a class yesterday. I always thought that annealing was hardening the glass, making it tougher - but, perhaps the two things are not the same. In relation to fine silver wire, annealing softens the wire. In relation to glass I know that it makes beads less likely to break - and now I know it will make your rods less likely to shock. (thanks) So, does annealing glass soften it, as it does silver?... smooth it?... make it more homogeneous? Curious. Gail

  2. How metal workers use the term "anneal" and how glass workers use the term are not exactly the same. I think also you will find that "anneal" means different things to different metal workers. Annealing fine silver or sterling silver to soften the metal and bring back it's workability is not the same as anneal iron and steel either. Just google define:anneal to get more definitions than you can shake a stick at.

    The one thing they agree on is that annealing means heating and usually relatively slow cooling. In the case of sterling and fine silver, quenching (tossing into pickle or water) doesn't qualify as "slow cooling" in anyone's books.

    What annealing does to glass is to reduce the strain that builds up in the glass where there is a temperature differential from one area to another. The key to annealing is to bring the glass all to the same temperature, and then have it all cool down at the same speed, inside and out. That's why some texts on annealing glass will say "reduce the temperature X degrees per hour for every quarter inch of glass" or similar.

    The temperature differential comes about because glass is a very poor conductor of heat - it has to be - otherwise, we'd never be able to melt one end of the rod and hold the other.

    This just begins to cover the topic, but I don't have that much space in a comment.