Thursday, January 31, 2013

Losing my Mind

I'm losing track of what I've blogged and what I haven't. I've been so crazy busy that - well - somethings are starting to get away from me.

This is Double Helix 507 Speckled Opaque, reduced and encased. I suspect that any of the dark high-silver colours that appear black(ish) and reduce to a metallic sheen will work the same way, e.g.  Triton.
Make a thin core bead. To do this, put a small amount of glass on and get it very soft hot, then marver it firmly and quickly to a thin tube.

Let it cool, and very gently reduce it - bringing it just into the bottom edge of the flame. Reduce it until you see a metallic sheen - it doesn't take long. If you get the subtle metallic purple/green look - you will get the nicest results.

Then encase it without reheating it or letting the flame touch it before covering it with clear. This means you have to heat the clear up and have it ready to go and encase the whole bead in one swell foop. Occasional a bead will be so cool that when you put the clear on it, it cracks. So long as it doesn't fall off - keep going. After encasing, you can heat the whole thing up and re-heal it.

As you can see - it took a lot of experimenting to get the steps nailed down. Reducing once cool is really key to keeping the blues and avoiding the greens and ambers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Comparison: Clears

Clear glass. The holy grail of lampworking: absolutely perfectly sparklingly clear glass. Clear like a mountain stream. Clear like breath of fresh air. Clear like a baby's conscience.

Clear like the boro folks have.


You start out as a beginner thinking "clear is clear." Then you see some streaks in your carefully encased bead, and you ask someone one - and then you get, "Did you clean your glass?" "Were you working too low in the flame?" - so you clean your glass and make a conscious effort to work higher in the flame.

But you still have black streaks and scummy areas.

So you ask again. This time you get an avalanche of advice. Don't clean with glass cleaner. Do clean with glass cleaner. Use alcohol. Pickle the glass. Buy Lauscha. Lauscha's not compatible. Buy Aether. Buy Super clear. Super clear's no good. Buy Vetro. Buy Zephyr. It's the scratches on the glass. Buy thick rods and peel them. Pull the scum out. Work cool. Work hot. Work with a lot of oxygen. Work neutral.

And this point, you feel like a single worm at a party of hens, and you're about ready to work in nothing but periwinkle and pea green.

I'm here to make it all clear.

ha ha.

I wish.

The best advice I can give you is - cleaning your glass does help. The new, eco-friendly glass cleaners don't seem to do a good job. Good old fashioned Windex, alcohol, hot water and detergent, and running the rods through the dishwasher do help.

And - some days - the glass works better than others. If you see something nasty in the glass on the bead - go in with the tweezers and pull it out if it is going to wreck the bead.

Recently - I tried comparing clears - and got results that I completely did not expect.

OK - I started with 6 rods of clear - all labeled so I wouldn't get them mixed up. I did clean all of them, in an attempt to have them start equal.

From the left, top mandrel, we have: Effetre Clear 004, Effetre Super Clear 006, CiM 834 Clear, VS004 (more on what that is in a minute), Double Helix Zephyr, and on the bottom rod, TAG Clarity. 

As you can see from the picture, they all turned out pretty good, with the lone exception of the CiM clear - which went weirdly burned.

In checking the CiM web-site - it notes that their clear perfers to be worked cool. Well - we all know that I do not work anything cool. I may be cool, but I don't work that way. So that is probably my fault.

The Effetre Clear turned out - in defiance of all expectations - pretty darn good. Not perfect - none of these came out perfect - but pretty darn good.

The Effetre Super Clear - well - it's better than I usually get.  My usual experience with this clear is that it is suitable only for being encased with an opaque. You can see a line of scum - but in my experience, the Super Clear is not super clear, and this is better than I usually get.

The CiM clear comes individually wrapped in sheets of tissue, for gawd's sake. Seriously - how did it come out this bad? I want to apologize to it. I'm sorry CiM - this just wasn't your day. Let's go with "I worked it too hot" and move on.

 The 4th (still above) - is VS004. VS004 is a new comer. It is made by the glass batchmaker who USED to work for Vetrofond. Remember Vetrofond? Remember I wrote in the fall that they were no more. Their furnaces failed and they could not raise the funds to get them going again. Well - their batch maker has moved on and was commissioned to make a batch of clear to the same formula as Vetro used to use. Vetro clear was the bees knees in it's day. And it's not bad here - a little patch of scum visible on the lower right quadrant of the bead.

Below, we have Double Helix Zephyr. Now we are getting into the premium clears. Lawdy, it's not perfect either. Good - but not perfect.

And here we have TAG (Trautman Art Glass) Clarity. Probably the nicest looking of the bunch - but not by much.

 The whole test was disappointing. I was hoping for a clear winner - pun not intended but we'll go with it anyway. Not included in my test was Lauscha or Double Helix Aether. (Because I didn't have any on hand.)

Here we see all 6 clears again - over dichro - which is on clear.

Top mandrel, from the left: Clarity, Zephyr, VS004 (this is the one with the trails of black stuff in it this time), bottom mandrel, from the left, CiM, Super Clear, and Effetre.

Don't forget - we're looking at these much closer than if you just held them in your hand. Laying in your hand or strung in a bracelet - these would all look pretty much the same.

My conclusion: I still have no conclusion. Some days the glass plays nice, and on those days - keep on torching till you drop.

Although - that said - I'd probably buy a couple pounds of TAG Clarity and give it a good work out.

And I'd still want to try more of the VS004 - just because I loved the Vetro clear.

And I hear that the DH Zephyr is particularly good for making the high-silver and exotic colours pop.

And Effetre clear does have going for it that is quite thin when hot and easier to get into tight places. And it's cheap.

Like I said - no conclusion.

Friday, January 25, 2013

CiM 605 Thistledown

CiM 605 Thistledown - what a lovely name! This is a soft, subtle pink, as light and airy as the name implies.

From the left, two self-coloured beads, one over white, one over clear.

It actually holds up pretty well when diluted over white or clear.

The two self colour beads have some patterning, some surface colour that almost looks like scorching. Not sure if I burned them, or if that is what they do. It's way less obvious in real life than it is in these photos.

Not sure how I feel about it - I liked it on the gooseberry - but not sure about on the pink.

But maybe it was just me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CiM 205 Tandoori again

Yep - I'm definitely losing track. CiM Tandoori, again, but the good news it - consistent results!

Slow, controllable strike means that you can do a fire-opal effect with the bead half fiery red and half mandarin orange or lemon yellow.

As I understand it - CiM is sold out of it - so you are going to have to scrounge for it!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

CiM 606 Damson

CiM Damson - purple as in Damson plums. This is a very red-purple when thin, and practically black when not.

Here - two self coloured beads. If they weren't black - you wouldn't know.

Here, on the left, over white, and over clear on the right. Here, you see the true colour of the glass. A reddish purple.
 This would be a colour for using thin, in cored cane, etc.

Just for fun - here are 3 that have fine-silver wire wrapped around them and melted in.

Friday, January 18, 2013

CiM 406 Gooseberry

Gooseberry - reminds me of the Peacock Green Moonstone that was one of the first CiM colours that I fell in love with. (The other was Halong Bay.)

 From the left, we have two self-coloured beads, Gooseberry over white, and gooseberry over clear.

Over white and over clear - it's not too spectacular, and the moonstone (translucent) glasses tend not to be - they need mass to make the full effect.

This is a close up. Not sure what is causing the webbing - whether I scorched the glass or didn't clean it well enough. Normally - I would not like it - but it kind of adds to the organic nature of the bead - making it more gooseberry-ish.

Now - this glass - with a fuzzy brown coating like a kiwi-fruit. Mmmmm. (A brown frit, not melted in for the skin. Hmmmm.)