Friday, November 21, 2008

Lampworking 101: Studio

A few days ago on my Wall at 1000Markets, NineDragons commented that she wondered about how I controlled the design on the beads, and suggested a blog post. That seems like a good idea to me, but I thought I'd start with my studio, not with a technique.

"Studio" is a misnomer. I work in my breakfast nook in the kitchen. I have a 1968 "ranch" house, in layout like thousands across the Atlanta area, but I really do not need two tables. So I turned my breakfast space into lampworking space, as you can see above.

This isn't the neatest of studios. I'm still struggling with how to put everything away neatly in an intrinsically messy space, and still have it be accessible. Thee glass shelves really help--I think I want a few more of those, if I can find them.

What's in the studio? In the corner, of course, is glass. Glass has to stay separated by COE, or "Coefficient of Expansion" -- glass expands as it cools, and glasses that expand at different rates will crack apart. That wire rack holds my COE 104 glasses--Italian Effetre, ASK glass, Creation is Messy glass, and Vetrofond glass. The smaller copper rack above holds my Reichenbach and Zimmerman 96-COE glasses. Above that are tools. The shelves hold brass presses, mostly from Zooziis, and my collection of stringer (thin strands). On the wall behind the chair are more tools and eye protection. There's a water jar for quenching hot tools, loose glass I was working with, and (of course) my torch--a basic but wonderful GTT Cricket. Loose tools, marvers (shaping tools), and other items make up the jumble on the right. The window has my vent fan (my makeup air is around the corner), and a shield for the window glass. Ideally I should have a vent hood, but so far my window fan is powerful enough that it does the job according to my incense tests. That's where you light a stick of incense and hold it where you would be holding glass in the flame. If you smell the incense, you need more ventilation.

On the left, in the third picture, there's my kiln, table lamp, mandrels, and bead release. There's also, below, my collection of borosilicate glass (COE 33), Bullseye glass (COE 90), and Satake glass (COE113). Peeking out is my trusty old torch, a Bethlehem Piranha.

Under the table sit my oxygen concentrators, which I can run singly or as a pair. The thick, heavy braided rug is not exactly the safest floor covering, but it is dense enough that I can pick up anything before it catches fire, and it protects my new kitchen flooring from heavy table legs and, most importantly, from burns.

So how do you control the decoration on the glass? That's the next post. I'm crossposting everything at my 1000Markets shop blog!

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