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Marble Tricks & Tips Discussion of special techniques, methods, materials, and everything technical, including technical Q&A, can be found here.


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Old 01-29-08, 06:15 PM
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Soft glass or boro for newbie

just starting off and am bashing through various websites and books. I can't wait to get started. My main goal is to make marbles after doing the customary bead making. The question I have is (for marbles) do i start in soft glass or proceed straight to boro - - and why?
Also, how long (months) did it take for you to become reasonably proficient?
Thanks for the help,
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Old 01-30-08, 07:05 AM
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Boro is fine

If Boro is what you ultimately want to use than byy all means start there
the rules and process for both are diffrent it's best not to learn one and then
switch an have to learn a new set of rules.. then again I enjoy using both glasses i guess it has to do with the Color pallet and $$ you have to spend on glass...
Soft glass is cheaper..
Boro colors are very exciting..
I would try to find a local studio where you live and take a few classes
if you need help with this let me know.
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Old 02-08-08, 06:53 AM
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IMO start with soft glass. It's easier to learn with because it does not cool quite as fast as boro. Once you get marblemaking down then you will begin to pick up speed. THIS is when I would jump to boro, if you wanted to. Both types of glass produce awesome marbles!
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Old 02-09-08, 06:14 PM
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Howdy Phil...I started off thinking that I wanted to do boro so I took a beginners flameworking class at the Eugene Glass School. The first thing they taught us to do was make marbles. So, my recommendation to you is to take a similar class in your area. The class was wonderful...however, the next class I took was beginners beadmaking and I fell in love with soft glass. I think, based on my limited experience with boro, that boro is more suited to making marbles. Boro is also less prone to thermal shock which makes it easier to work with in the beginning. It does take more propane/oxygen and the colored rods are more expensive. But if you use clear rods and just use the colored rods for design elements then your costs wont be too bad. I still go back to boro once in a while when I get orders for mushroom encased pendants or hearts because I find them so much easier to do with boro. Good luck with your flameworking Phil.
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Old 02-10-08, 05:44 PM
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Arrow Hi Phil, Lance of FlameTree Glass School here.

Hi Phil,
Your question is borosilicate or soft glass for starting out. Both are great, yet they are different. I pesonally love and work both.

Here are some things to consider.

The soft category of colors, say the soda lime Italian glasses like Moretti are less expensive to work with, you can work them on a smaller torch, the color formulas are centuries old and therefore very consistent, and of very high quality (They've had the time to get it right). The color palette is extremely bright and diverse. The soft glass takes less heat to work it, and it retains heat longer, soft glass flows more readily. Moretti is also very thermal shocky, and it takes much more skill for one to sculpt it large, and/or blow it large at the torch. There is ALOT of diversity here in the soft catagory of glasses and everyone has his or her favorites, there are the Italian glasses, the other European soft glassses like Chech, and the German Lauscha, there is the Japanese version of VERY soft glasses like the Satake, and Kinari, there is the soft glass in the nineties of C.O.E. (C.T.E.) such as bullseye, spectrum, and even the furnace glasses; like the spruce pine, and gaffer glasses. They are ALL wonderful glass!

The hard borosilicate glass clear and color although "new" as compared with the soft glasses like Moretti are also wonderful glass!!! The hard glass has more colors that change to a myriad of colors (striking colors) than does the soft glass Moretti palette for one example. Borosilicate DOES have some very bright colors in it's palette and getting more of them everyday, just not as many bright "what you see is what you get" colors like the Moretti.
Here is the GREAT thing about the borosilicate!!! It's strength and it's resistance to thermal change!!! It is more durable than the soft glasses, it is extremely thermal shock resistant unlike the soft glasses like Moretti; therefore it is easier to sculpt large and to blow large at the torch. The clear in the borosilicate is of a very high optically pure quality.

Important safety note: Borosilicate glass gives off more UV (ultra violet spectrum) when worked than the soft glasses, and the borosilicate color also gives off UV and the IR (Infra-red) wavelengths of light. Therefore make sure you are using a borosilicate protective eye-wear filter with a shade 5 or greater when working the borosilicate glasses. Color requires the shade 5 or even higher in addition to the base filter. For the soft glasses, you should always wear your soft glass protective eye-wear filter. Keep in mind the type of glass you are working, the size of hot glass gather you normally work with, your distance from it, and your duration in front of it when choosing your glassblowing/flameworking protective eyewear filter choice. Always wear your protective eyewear!

Ok with all that said, there are more differences and similarities to discuss, but, enough of my compare and contrast here between the soft and hard glasses. Yet, here is my final opinion,
Fact is, I LOVE THEM BOTH!!!! But, for different reasons, therefore, I personally don't choose one over the other, but rather choose to work them and embrace them BOTH.
It may take more time for one to learn how to work BOTH the hard and the soft category of glasses....this is true, but the reward in my opinion is far greater than choosing just one. In the end, Glass is Glass! Much like people, many, many, different personalities, but still.....people.
Gotta get back to blowing glass!
Hope this helps!
Have fun with your glass!!! and above all, God Bless!!!
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Old 02-11-08, 07:12 PM
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Thanks for your advice!

well, all good points, and it appears there is no clear winner :-)
I have signed up for classes (as advised) at two different studios and will see where my journey takes me.
Thanks so much for all of your help and advise!
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Old 02-12-08, 02:57 PM
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Lances' post from Flame Tree is very good as he gives some very good examples of differences between them. Having personally started out with the softer effetre glasses was a good learning experience for me as it taught me to really watch the heat in my pieces. The effetres are very susceptible to thermal shock. Having your items out of the heat for any period of time and then re-introducing heat causes cracking, breaking, etc, so in that sense it was good to learn to control heat using the effetres. My first marble with boro was a absolute joke (which I have saved as a constant reminder of where I have been)

Boro will pull harder and feel more like a stiff taffy when hot than the effetres but it is more forgiving when out of the heat as you spend time shaping, molding. The soft glasses (effetre/moretti) have great colors and great striking reactions that I am just beginning to see in the boros. Like Lance, I like them both and I use them both for very diffrent purposes. I make almost all of my beads exclusively with Morretti/effetre. I make all my scultpures and marbles and implosion pendants out of boro. I do make an occsasional Boro bead when I am looking for the unique "marbling" looks that Lance referred to in his post when boro colors "strike". Once you see boro rods after striking you will know what that means - they are definitely unique!

One thing - if you work with both, definately make sure you dont mix them. I did that once on some scultpural flowers and what you will get is an item that acts like its made out of sugar and disintegrates just like it too when its cooled! (not to mention the waste of time and resources!)

I now make sure I put the rods into their respective areas/bins as soon as my orders come in now so I dont mix them!

Whatever you decide....both types of glass are great and both give really great results. Scultpures and marbles will be easier on boro because you dont need to focus on heat control as much. Beads will be easier on effetre because the glass is more fluid when heated and therfore you can spend alot less time on shaping which is good since you will focus more concentration on heat control.

Having just stated that, I will say there are many really beautiful sculptures made from effetre but it truly is an art and takes alot more skill to control the heat and prevent the thermal shock that they are so well known for. It will more than likely provide alot of frustration trying to acheive when just starting out.

For Marbles, I suspect you will find that working with the Boro will be much easier since you will want to spend alot of time learning to make them round and without blemishes, dents and ripples (something I am still trying to improve on ) and therefore wont be really concentrating on keeping the marble in the heat to prevent thermal shock, which you will need to focus on if you do them out of effetre/moretti.

Good luck and let us know how it all turns out
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Last edited by NevadaGlass; 02-12-08 at 03:15 PM. Reason: add'l thoughts
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