Question 11/30/09

Thank you for your extensive response. It is awesome and very informative.

I am glad you suggested starting out on cheaper glass. what a great idea. I also thought maybe I should just go with the Hot Head and a crock pot with some vermiculite. A lampwork artist from Anchorage gave me the crock pot idea when I called on her add in Craig's List for a used minor torch. I figure I will just have fun and learn how....selling is a long ways off.

Thank you,

Answer 11/30/09


Glad that I could be of assistance.

A crock pot has its limitations. It will NOT anneal beads. So do keep that in mind.

For glass, if you are using COE 104 look for seconds or shorts. What I have are firsts, but they are all colored boro Northstar glass (boro costs more than soft glass). And I have some clear Simex boro in 1500 mm lengths. Stock 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 mm Simex solid clear boro rod in 1500 mm lengths (59 inches) if interested. Plus some tube.

Some folks like soft glass while others boro. They are both different in what can be obtained in colors and how it can be worked. Boro is like honey in January. While soft glass is like honey in July. Some like to use both and I can not say which one is better for any individual. Of course, they can not be used together as the COE's are not compatible.

COE 104 (soft glass) melts at a lower temp than COE 33 which is boro. I use a Cricket torch which is designed for lower oxygen use. Thus using an oxygen concentrator with propane on this end. Limitations is that working size is limited with the Cricket. Did make a bead with clear boro at 20 mm diameter and 12 mm thick. It went slow, but was workable. Would not even try that with a Hot Head.

In Anchorage it is just too costly to use bottled oxygen. It is about forty bucks per fill for the smaller (125 cu ft) and about 60 for the larger tank. The smaller size is good for about 20 hours of touch work, so you can get the idea on costs. Of course, how long the tank lasts depends on which torch is being used. The Mini CC uses more oxygen than the Cricket, as an example.

You may want to find someone that has a hot head and get a demo before buying. They make a lot of noise and eat up a number of tanks of MAPP gas. (check MAPP and see the cost per bottle) Also, it is not as hot as oxygen/propane. But for 104 should do fine but will just take longer for any given bead. Not at all useful for boro work. Just check the forums for other opinions.

The home made kiln, to give you an idea, has $100 worth of bricks in it plus all of the other things. Much less costly to build, then to buy. Figured that a similar kin would run in the $1500 to $1700 range give or take.

One book that I found of great assistance is "Passing the Flame" by Corina Tettinger, 3rd edition. Amazon carries it through 3rd party vendors. It is pricey, but a lot less costly than going to workshops. It is for soft glass, but I am using it for boro.

Another must book for boro is "Contemporary Lampworking - A Practical Guide to Shaping Glass in the Flame" Third Edition. It is geared toward boro and glass sculpture rather than bead making.

And be sure to get either a Didy (Didymium) shield or glasses. Without these you can not see what you are doing in the flame.

Alaska Handmade Jewelry
Anchorage, Alaska