Someone said, and many have repeated, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Had it not been because of persons imitating his beads, Loren Stump, a novice glass bead maker, might not have felt it necessary to identify his beads with a personal murrini. As it happened, he did teach himself to make pattern canes to be used as his personal identifier and, better yet, he realized that the same technique would solve a problem he was having with his "automobile beads." These beads, which are about three-quarters of an inch long, have the shape of an automobile; sometimes a recognizable model, sometimes a generic one. The photograph to be found in this issue of Glass Line, which shows five of his automobile beads, is a poor substitute for a close examination of the actual bead. However, if you look closely at the photos, especially at the automobile bead at the bottom center, you will note that the automobiles seem to have transparent glass windows. Actually the entire interior of the auto is clear glass. When one looks through the window, one sees the driver and/or passengers inside. The grill, by the way, is made of solder which has been applied and then carved.
Five automobile beads with figures inside. About 3/4 in. long.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
Various netsuke figurines in the form of animals such as mice, rabbits, or tigers.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
Loren's problem was in getting any sort of a detailed expression on the faces of the people in the car because they have to made very small. The solution came from his realization that the required detail could be obtained by an extension of the technique he used to make his personal canes.(1) That is, the use of the technique employed over a hundred years ago by Giacomo Franchini(2). This, in turn, led to his mastery of the technique of making face canes which he might have continued to apply only to his glass beads had it not been for his previous experience in making sculptural objects. (See below.) His introduction to Franchini's work came as a result of attending a slide show presented by the eminent West Coast bead authority, Jamie Allen, in which there was shown a couple of slides of Franchini's work. This inspired him to "experiment until my techniques were refined." He feels that "the Franchini family [were] the best murrinists."
Loren Stump had, for fifteen years, operated a stained glass shop in which he made windows and copper-foiled lamps. He was in the habit of taking the scrap glass and using it to make mechanical motorized birds and 3-D windows. In addition, he also made sculptural objects, to be used as Christmas tree ornaments, from scrap lead.
Three glass sculptures inspired by Japanese subjects. The figure at the right hand side is a fisherman carrying a glass net-float. (These should actually be called beads since they each have a string hole.) About two inches long.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
With this as a background, he used his new-found skills as a lampworker to make, for instance, conch shell-like objects whose open faces reveal an aquarium of under-water objects such as fish and mermaids. Others have made conch shell-like forms, and still others have made aquariums, but few have combined the two formats. In the case of Loren Stump's pieces, the fish and the mermaid's face contain the tremendous amount of detail which can only be obtained by using slices of pattern canes.
The reader may be wondering about the number of years that Stump has been doing lampwork. Be prepared for a shock: by the time this interview sees print it will be only the third year of his life as a lampworker! Let's look at how this came about.
As the expected time of birth of their second child approached the Stump's were facing a dilemma. Linda, his wife, "had a regular job," to use Loren's phrase. (She is a teacher.) If Loren were to continue operating his stained glass business it would necessitate the hiring of a baby sitter, for two kids, on a daily basis: a great expense. Moving the stained glass business into their house so that Loren could act as "Mr. Mom" was not practical because of the hazards presented by the shards of sheet glass, etc. While they were stewing about this problem Loren happened to see the glass beads that Donna Milliron was making. This started a bell ringing in Loren's mind. He persuaded his mother that she ought to give him a Minor torch and the necessary auxiliary equipment as an advance Christmas present so that he could make glass beads to give as Christmas presents to members of their families. This was in October of 1993. By Christmas time the presents had all been completed.
Samurai from a kabuki play. Seven inches high at the head.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
After this two-month stint of intensive practice, and before the end of the year, he entered the Madrid Supply Company's "First Annual Juried Show of Contemporary Glass Beadmakers." This show took place three months later in the month of March, at which time he was awarded the First Prize in the sculptural bead category. The following July he won the first prize, again in the sculptural bead category, at "The Gathering," in San Anselmo and then, three months later, first prize in the sculptural category at "The Artisans on Taylor" show in Seattle. At the same time he found that the buying public liked his beads. Since then, and as you can see it hasn't been long, he has branched away from making beads exclusively to making various sculptural objects, some of which have been mentioned above. Many have a Japanese motif. As examples of this category I will mention his figurines of various Japanese characters and his various netsuke figurines in the form of animals such as mice, rabbits, or tigers. One should keep in mind that these relatively massive, solid objects, about five inches high, are made of a glass (Moretti) with a COE of 104 X 10-7! Merely keeping such a large glass object from cracking in the flame of the torch while working it is an accomplishment.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
None of his lampwork is blown. His most recent interest is in paperweights. (He greatly admires the work of Paul Stankard.) We should expect to see some astonishing results from his attempts in this direction.
One aspect of the paper weight format, that the writer looks forward to seeing, is the magnification caused by the curvature of the outer surface of a paper weight made in the traditional spherical shape: in essence, a built-in magnifying glass. Lacking a magnifying glass a viewer might find it difficult to appreciate the astonishing detail in his murrini, some of which are available mounted in a gold frame with a loop so that they can be worn as a pendant.(3) A selection of these mounted murrini, from the collection of David Hopper, is on display in the 20th Century Glass section of the Corning Museum of Glass. These murrini are between 1/16 and 3/32 in. thick and are cut with a diamond saw. The saw wastes nearly 50% of the cane.
Solid glass "Aquarium", in the form of a conch shell, with mermaid and fish made of murrine. Photo is larger than actual size which is about two inches across.
Photographs by Loren Stump.
His studio consists of a 12 ft. X 12 ft. room in his house. The bench top is covered with Wonderboard which, although fireproof, does discolor when overheated. Consequently, this will be covered with stainless steel when the present remodeling of the studio is complete. He currently is using a Bethlehem Starfire burner customized with racing stripes and a non-painted base. For cutting pattern canes he recommends the use of carbide-tipped tile cutters which have offset jaws which permit the cane to be cut at any place.
He has used most of the colored glasses which are available but prefers Moretti because of the wide selection of colors and its easy availability.
Loren Stump has never been one to withhold lampworking skills from interested persons. As early as September, 1994, only one year after beginning to make beads, he gave a workshop. The time that he devotes to workshops and classes is considerable. Although Loren claims that he derives no inspiration from his classes, an assertion that the writer doubts, he does admit that he enjoys teaching and gets lots of satisfaction from it. He is, according to those of his students with whom I spoke, an excellent teacher. His students range in age from 17 to 65 and consist of "many bead makers, shop owners, lampworkers, hot glass people and hobbyists." "My classes are technique oriented...[we] cover at least 40 or so new techniques. The refining of skills is left to the student's practice." According to John Williams, of Pacific Glass in Gardena, CA, his workshops in the summer of 1995 sold out well in advance. Also diminishing the time available for his own work are the orders he gets from other lampworkers for custom pattern canes, usually initials.
January of this year was a sort of landmark in his career because, after just a little over two years since he first lit a lampworking torch for the first time, he was now making as much from lampwork as he did from his flat glass shop. I asked him if he now considered that he, too, had "a real job." He said that he did.
(1) Loren's personal canes have always been unusual in that they employ cursive, instead of block, letters. Originally he used only his initials, later his full name. Currently, because of the demands of collectors, he uses his full name and the last two digits of the year. He says that he is unaware of anyone, besides himself, who has made a murrine showing a name in cursive script.
(2) Giacomo Franchini (1827-1897) himself was emulating lampworkers who lived two thousand years earlier. See the review of "Miniature Masterpieces: Mosaic Glass 1838-1924," Glass Line Aug./Sept., (1995),10]2].
(3) Tibor Schneider (See Glass Line, Feb./Mar.,(1988), 1p.1.) had a similar problem with his nearly microscopic lampworked vessels. Consequently, he adopted the plan of displaying and selling them in the small, cubical, plastic boxes customarily used for mineralogical specimens.
A chevron bead made by the method described in the current Bead Column. Actual size:
1" x 9/16".
Photographs by The Venerable Beadle
There aren't many bead designs whose original inventor is known and when it comes to "ancient" bead designs there is only one whose inventor is known to the Beadle. That design is the Rosetta Bead or, as it is called in France, the Chevron Bead. The name derives from the fact that the beads were made from cane which had one or more, concentric, star-like patterns in them. When a piece of such a cane is ground so that the surface, at the ends of the bead, makes an acute angle to the axis of the bead, the points of the star (the petals of the rosette) form zones ending in a nested, V-shaped, design: >>>. If the design of the cane is such that a true chevron-like design does not result from grinding, the bead is still considered to be a Chevron Bead. For example, a cane having a pattern consisting of more realistic-looking petals will give, after grinding, a pattern ending in nested arcs: ))). Photographs of Rosetta Beads can be found in Sarpellon's monograph(1) and in the book on mosaic glass by Bruhn(2) as well as in standard reference works on beads. A few of the Venerable Beadle's chevron beads can be seen in the photos accompanying this column.
The ends of a few styles of chevron beads.
Photographs by The Venerable Beadle
According to the first reference just cited, the invention of the Rosetta Bead "... is traditionally associated with Marietta Barovier, daughter of the famous glassmaker Angelo Barovier" (3) who, according to the second reference, "was known to be an expert maker of glass Rosetta beads".(4) The invention of these beads is known to have taken place prior to 1496. (Remember the poem "In fourteen hundred and ninety two/ Columbus sailed the ocean blue?" That happened just a few years earlier!)
The best way to make chevron beads is by furnace techniques. In fact, The Beadle's inspiration for making these beads came after seeing some photographs of marvelous chevron beads made, at the furnace, by Ralph Mossman. In a sense, making them by lampworking is like a dog walking on its hind legs.(5) Never the less, having set himself the task of making such beads by lampworking, The Beadle persisted and this Column will tell you of his results. One final comment: there are other lampworkers who have made chevron beads but, because they have never taken the trouble to publish their methods, or because their existence is unknown to The Beadle, he cannot credit them for their accomplishments nor acknowledge their inventions. As he has written before, The Venerable Beadle is more than willing to put his column at the disposal of any beadmaker who wants to contribute a column.
(a.) Core layer on mandrel.
(b.) Second layer of glass applied.
(c.) Third layer applied.
(d.) Bead after marvering to reduce diameter. Tool about to be pressed into softened area along the length of the bead.
(e.) Cross section of the bead in (d.).
(f.) Cross section which results from pressing tool into bead at six places.
Before telling you of The Beadle's initial experiments he has a confession to make: he tends to barge ahead and try an idea without thinking it through; certainly without making calculations to determine feasibility. Thus it was that he rushed to his studio and tried to make chevron beads by the sequence illustrated in Figure One.
The idea seemed straight forward: first make a thin bead as in (a) then put a layer of a contrasting color over it as in (b) and repeat the process to get a three layer bead as in (c). This proceeded as expected except that the bead was getting sort of thick so he marvered it until it had a reasonable diameter as shown in (d). He realized that this would make the colored layers thinner, but so what? This would be a way of making thin colored layers and which would be easier than the usual way of being careful when winding color on a bead. The length of the bead was heated with a narrow flame and the side indented, successively, at each of six equally spaced (more or less) places by pressing a tool, whose edge was kept parallel to the mandrel, against the side of the bead. Suitable tools were found to be the back edge of piece of hack saw blade and, better, a piece of alumina 0.035 in. thick. This is illustrated in (d) and, in cross section, (e). The result was a bead with a corrugated cross section as shown in (f) which was heated and marvered(6) until it resumed a circular cross section. After lapping the ends of the bead to form a taper (more about this later) the results were quite encouraging so The Beadle proceeded to make beads with more layers. (These first test beads were sliced with a diamond saw to make murrine to decorate other beads.)
As more layers were put on, the bead became thicker and, after they were marvered to restore them to a reasonable diameter, they were quite long. This problem was circumvented by starting with very short beads. After lapping they scarcely showed a pattern visible to the naked eye. What happened? Reluctantly, The Beadle returned to his desk and his hand calculator to determine the cause.
He found that, when making beads by the method shown, adding a 1/16 in. thick layer of color to a 3/4 in. diam. bead and marvering the result so that its new diameter was 1/2 in. resulted in a bead over three times as long as the original one. That was no surprise because he had observed that to happen. What he did not realize was that the thickness of the colored layer must diminish by the same ratio. Thus, the originally 1/16 in. thick layer became only 0.020 in. thick. This is about the thickness of two postcards. Of course, when the ends of the bead are lapped the width of the zone of color is increased but only to 0.029 in. if the lapping is at angle of 45ø to the axis of the bead.
When this process is done repeatedly, as it must if more than one layer of color is used, each layer of color will diminish in thickness by the same ratio each time a layer is added. In other words, if three layers of color are used, the first layer will end up being only be two-thousandths of an inch thick! No wonder The Beadle couldn't find any chevrons.(7) Conclusion: although the method works, it probably is only useful when there are just a few layers.
Curved marver in the process of being machined. The two pieces of graphite have been bolted together and the first of a series of holes has been bored.
Having been thus thwarted in his initial attempts, The Beadle chose to use a different technique. This method, which will now be described, is a modification of the technique used by some furnace glassblowers to make chevron beads. In essence it consists of completely covering a core bead with a number of parallel pieces of simple pattern canes. What number of pieces will just make a perfect fit around the core? Well, that depends on the diameter of the core and the diameter of the pattern canes. While he was still at his desk The Beadle worked out a simple formula to calculate the diameter of the core bead in order that a specified number of pattern canes of a particular diameter will just make a perfect fit around the core. The formula is: D=d[(N/pi)-1].
Where D is the diameter of the core bead, d is the diameter of the cane, N is the number of pieces of cane that are to fit around the core bead, and pi is 3.142 or 22/7. To use this formula choose a value for N, say 8, and calculate the required diameter of the core bead. If you get an absurdly large number for the required diameter, choose a smaller value for N and recalculate.
Now that you know the required diameter of the core bead how do you make one with approximately that diameter? You could just marver in your usual way and measure to find out how much more marvering is needed, but there is an easier way. The Beadle has devised a special marver just for this purpose and here is how you make one.
Making a Curved Marver
Take two slabs of graphite, each at least one half inch thick, and bolt them together with four machine screws and nuts which pass through holes drilled about one half inch from each corner. (The Beadle used two pieces of graphite, each of which measured 7in. X 2in. X 3/4in.) Put the assembly on its long edge and, along the seam, drill one hole of each of the following sizes: (Space the holes according to the length of the slabs you are working with.) 1/2, 7/16, 3/8, 11/32, 5/16, 9/32, 1/4 in. Figure Two shows the assembly after drilling the first hole. When the drilling is complete, vacuum your mess and unbolt the assembly. You will now have two marvers, one of which you can trade to another beadmaker for who knows what?
Preparing the Set-Up
The pattern canes to be used can be home made or they can be store bought. Thin (2-5mm diameter) Moretti filigrana is available, in a few colors, from Frantz Bead Co. as is "millefiori cane". In any case, select canes which have a uniform diameter, measure the diameter, and determine what diameter core bead will be necessary according to the formula above.
Cut the pattern canes to a length somewhat greater than the length desired for the finished bead. (For a one inch long bead, cut the canes to a length of 1 1/4 in.) Cut at least one more length than required for the bead in case of a disaster such as dropping one of the canes on the floor. An excellent tool for the purpose is the "Rod Lopper" sold by Ed Hoy's. It has an adjustable support to hold the cane at exactly the right place between the two carbide cutting edges.
Put the canes on a hot plate. Ideally there should be some sort of fixture on the hot plate to keep the canes from rolling around and to keep the ends clear so that they can be grasped with a tweezers.
Making the Bead
First make a core of the previously determined diameter by wrapping some glass around a coated mandrel and marvering with the largest diameter depression in the curved marver. Reheat and marver again with the next smaller depression. Repeat this process until the bead has the desired diameter. The bead need not make a snug fit in the final depression used. If the curved marver does not have an opening exactly the same as the required diameter use the next larger opening. This will result in a slight gap, or gaps, between two or more of the canes. One can compensate for this during the final marvering after the canes have been fused to the core bead since this process tends to widen the canes. If the core is too narrow add a little more glass and start the process over again.
Now stick one of the cane sections to the core by getting the core quite hot in a strip which runs the length of the bead while, at the same time, heating the cane. Push the two together and correct the alignment of the cane with the tweezers if necessary. If done correctly the cane should be exactly parallel to the axis of the bead both when viewed with the cane facing you and when the cane is at right angles to that position. Repeat this process with each of the remaining canes.
What happens at this point depends upon the design of the bead. The simplest thing to do is to marver the array of canes so that they form a smooth cylinder. (See the cautionary note and Footnote 4 in the section on Preliminary Attempts.) Another possibility is to lay down stripes of a suitable color in the grooves between the canes. (Try to avoid trapping air.) Yet another is to cover the entire bead with a suitable color. In any event, the last thing to do is to marver the bead smooth, fire polish, and anneal.
The object of this phase of the operation is to convert a more-or-less cylindrical bead into a barrel-, truncated bicone-, or double chamfered cylindrical-shaped one. The rather thin layers thus exposed will appear to be much wider than their thickness. The neatest way to accomplish this is to ask your nearby rock hound to lap it for you. That way, he can get his hands dirty. Lacking such a helper there are several ways of shaping the bead and many companies that will sell you all sorts of equipment to do it. There are two operations that must be performed: (1) grinding and (2) polishing.
The Beadle has used only two methods of grinding and both of these methods used a horizontal lap. In one case the abrasive was in the form of a silicon carbide disk; in the other the abrasive was as an aluminum oxide grinding wheel. In both cases the abrasive surface was kept flooded with a continual drip of water. The beads were either held in the hand and rotated, (a tiresome process) or loosely mounted on a long machine screw or a narrow diameter plastic rod (Teflon worked very well) which passed through the string hole. In this way the bead was constantly rotating on its axis because of the movement of the lapping wheel as the grinding proceeded.
Polishing can be done by lapping with successively finer abrasives, by tumbling, or by fire polishing. The first method is recommended only for experts. (Like your nearby rock hound.) Tumbling can be done with relatively simple equipment which you may be able to locate at a garage sale or thrift shop. There is a good discussion of tumbling in Kervin's treatise.(8) The Beadle prefers to use fire polishing.
Put the beads to be fire polished in a cold annealing oven and raise the temperature at a safe rate, which you can find in Kervin's book(9), until the annealing temperature is reached. Open the annealing oven door as little as possible and, using one hand, reach in with a portable torch which has been adjusted to produce a hot, neutral, flame. Heat the bead with the outer tip of the flame. When the bead begins to be slightly incandescent reach in with a long stainless steel mandrel of a size somewhat less than the one that was used to make the bead, and pick up the bead and move it into the flame of your bench burner. (Turn off the hand torch.) Manipulate the bead in such a way as to slightly melt all of the ground surfaces of the bead. Allow the bead to cool enough so that it will not be marred by putting it into the annealing oven and then do so.
It is the Venerable Beadle's intention to write about other methods of making chevron beads in future columns. Also he intends to write about other uses of lapidary techniques in making glass beads in spite of his dislike of the technique.
(1) G. Sarpellon, "Miniature Masterpieces: Mosaic Glass 1858 1924", Prestel Verlag, New York, 1995, Fig.32, p. 17.
(2) J.-A. Bruhn, "Designs in Miniature: The story of Mosaic Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, 1995, Fig. 17, p. 17.
(3) G. Sarpellon, loc. sit., p. 15.
(4) J.-A. Bruhn, loc. cit., p. 18
(5) A British wit, when asked his opinion of a certain theological matter, said something to the effect that 'one doesn't ask that it to be done well. That it is done at all is sufficient'. If you want to know who said it, and exactly what he said, and why, consult Bartlett's Quotations.
(6) If you decide to repeat this procedure remember when performing this operation most of the motion of the bead with respect to the marver should be parallel to the mandrel. If this is not done, and the bead is thoroughly softened, and if the entire length of the bead does not make contact with the marver, the result will be a wound bead with a spiral pattern. This could be useful if you want to show LeRoy Goertz and Murray Bloom that you can do something that they can't. See Glass Line, April/May, 1995, 8]6], p. 20.
(7) If you are interested in the actual calculations The Beadle will be happy to send them if you send a SASE to his attention at Glass Line.
(8) James Kervin, "More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Glass Beadmaking," GlassWear Studios, Livermore, 1994, p. 169.
(9) ibid., p. 168.
The Glass Art Society convention held in Asheville in May will go down in the history of GAS as one of the most successful and the highest attended GAS conference ever. Over 800 artists, collectors, and retailers participated in the various events over three days. There were studio tours, gallery shows, slide presentations, technical displays, and a day at Penland school where the new hot shop was fired up for demos by Lino Tagliapietra and Gene Koss. Likewise the new lampworking studio was up and running just in time for the day of demos by Roger Parramore, Lewis Wilson, Ricky Dodson, Emelio Santini, and myself. There were too many exciting events to possibly describe in this small space so I will try to just touch upon a few of them. Shelia and I got a taste of what was to come the first night we were there. We went for a walk and ran into Brain Kerkvliet, Emelio Santini and Peter Minson from Australia. We went to the parking lot behind the Hilton and Emelio held a little mini-show for us out of the back of his compact car. He kept pulling these amazing and delicate goblets out of boxes and we wondered how in the world he got them all packed into that tiny space. It was a real treat and sort of set the stage for all of us for the next three days.
Among the highlights were the exhibitions held at the Blue Spiral Gallery and the Asheville Museum of Art, both of which coincided with the conference and featured some of the finest glass artists in the southeast. The Blue Spiral is a beautiful place, with three floors of display space, all impeccably laid out. On exhibit were some of the finest works by mostly local glass artists, that I have ever seen. On the third floor was a series of lighted cases containing the work of prominent lampworkers including Roger Parramore, Shane Fero, Emelio Santini, and me. But the most exciting thing in the whole place was what I called "Shane's Shrine". This was a small room completely dedicated to the recent work of my good friend Shane Fero. The effect of so many fine pieces in one place was stunning! There were at least ten of his remarkable figurative sculptures that feature his distinctive style, mixing images taken from Egyptology, mythology, and various animals and figures both fantastic and imaginative. In addition to those works were five of his shadow boxes, mixed-media pieces using lampworking and painted images in the context of a recessed framework. I kidded Shane about his "shrine", but in fact was deeply impressed. He is without a doubt one of the most talented and innovative lampworkers in the country. On the lower level was the student exhibition. This was an impressive show that featured some of the finest up and coming talent in the country. The piece I remember the most was by a student from Korea named Jun Suk Kim. It had five faucets, each with a blob of molten glass dripping out of it like frozen water, suspended over a pool of "water" made of cast glass. The illusion was very convincing and reminded me of stop-motion photography. Coincidentally, Jun Suk signed up for my class at Pilchuck in June. The rest of the student exhibition had every known medium of glass, hot, cast, pate-de-verre, lampworked, and flat. It was a fine tribute to both the depth of talent of the student artists and the institutions that train them.
The second floor of the Blue Spiral had a collection of works by artists who reside in the area. Richard Ritter, Mark Peiser, Harvey Littleton, Kate Vogel and John Littleton, Richard Jolly, Kenny Carder, and many more were featured prominently. All in all, the Blue Spiral put on a great show for the conference attendees. Great job John and Andrew! The Asheville Art Museum is located in the main town square where the opening ceremonies were held and the official opening was scheduled immediately after the speeches and other honoraria. This is another multi-level exhibition space with many rooms, each devoted to a particular artists, medium, or subject matter. During the conference, the Museum hosted an exhibit of Southeastern Artists. This was a juried exhibition and participation was highly coveted. I had the remarkable good fortune to be included in it, and sent two pieces for the show. But one of them broke in shipping. The unfortunate thing about that was that it broke in such a way that no one noticedthe missing part until after it had already been photographed for the catalogue! When I saw the catalogue there it was, without the centerpiece! I was just a bit disconcerted about that, but assured Frank Thomson that it could be repaired and made arrangements to take it up to Penland during Penland day (where I was to demo anyway) to fix it. But that did not solve the problem for the opening and so I had only one piece there for the big night, and an incomplete one in the catalogue! The show went on and was a great success anyway. Several friends and acquaintances had work there including Loretta Eby, Shane (of course), Neil Duman, Gene Koss, Robert Levin, and Joan Vogel. The show also included work by Gary Beecham, Billy Bernstein, Curtiss Brock, Rick Eckerd, Richard Jolley, John Littleton and Kate Vogel, John Nygren, Mark Peiser, Richard Ritter, Sally Rogers, Yaffa and Jeff Sikorsky-Todd, and Robert Stephen. It was an impressive collection viewed by a distinguished crowd. What could be more exciting than that?
Well, maybe Penland day was. Penland is a lovely place, nestled up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, about an hour northeast of Asheville. Shelia and I drove up with Don Niblack and Ricky Dodson riding along. Ricky kept us entertained with his strange stories and an impromptu concert with his harmonica. The guy is a virtuoso harp player and really blew our minds! Upon our arrival, we went immediately to the new hot shop to check out the facility. It is really nice, a far cry from the cramped and stuffy old studio. The lampworking studio had just been completed in time for the conference and was a bit sparse, but had plenty of room and was spanking clean (which everyone knows is against the nature of lampworkers). Remember Murphy's Law of demos? Well, my demo was a perfect case in point. I deliberately kept it simple, planning to build a colored bottle with a lizard stopper. I made an example beforehand to show the audience what I was building and even prepared one of the more time-consuming parts in advance, just so I would be sure to get the piece finished within my time slot. Lampworking demos can be tough to do because of the tedious nature of so many of the procedures. I thought I had all my bases covered, but I managed to nearly lose the colored bottle in front of over 75 people! I missed the neck move, something that I do almost every day routinely! Something, perhaps an ill timed question, distracted me and I lost my rhythm for a split second. But it was enough to pull the neck too thin and it started to collapse! I recovered, but the neck remained so thin that the finished piece was not acceptable, and this piece was supposed to go to the auction! Luckily, I had the sample I had brought along so I substituted that and so everything was ok. I had my bases covered after all.
I suppose I should have been thankful that anyone was watching at all. Lino Tagliapietra was demoing in the hot shop at the same time and I was amazed that so many would prefer to watch me. In fact, all the lampworking demos drew good crowds which is a testimony to the tremendous current interest in lampworking. Roger's demo was right after mine and his, of course, went flawlessly (He has probably never heard of Murphy's Law of demos). In the old lampworking studio, Ricky Dodson was demoing at the same time as me and he was followed by Emelio Santini doing one of his unique fertility goblets. Emelio had the foresight to place a couple of pieces of his work on the bench during his demo and managed to sell one to none other than Paul Stankard! Lewis Wilson followed Roger in the new studio and built one of his monster beads with dragons. I noticed that he talked less than normal during his demo and wondered why. Later, I found out he was coming down with the flu that night, an illness that laid him up for ten days after the conference and forced him to cancel his trip to Seattle later in June. In the old shop, when Emelio was done, there were some unscheduled demos by Peter Minson and Sally Prasch. In between them, I managed to take five minutes to repair that broken piece for the Art Museum.
In the hot shop, the most exciting demo of the day was put on by Gene Koss and his band of merry casters and their strange machines. I had been telling Shelia for weeks about Gene and the demos he had done at Pilchuck the previous summer and she was very excited to see them. She repeatedly went up to Gene and asked him when he was going to do his demo, "when Gene, WHEN?", and he got quite a kick out of that. I helped her to get a front-row position so she could videotape the whole thing. It took every bit of two hours and he did three pieces. It is glass casting as performance art! Gene and his helpers ran around in their heavy leather jackets, boots, face shields, and heavy gloves, and scooped ladle after ladle of molten glass into these outrageous contraptions. Gene shouted orders, the torches roared, and his assistants ran around slinging hot glass everywhere. When Gene gave the order his assistants released the forest of vice-grips that held the machine together and it clanked and fell apart revealingthe shape within. Then, a guy in a heat suit picked it up and ran it to the annealer and everyone applauded wildly. Afterward, Gene told us that he didn't know how much longer he would be doing these kinds of demos. Tell us it ain't so, Gene! If you get a chance to catch one of his demos, don't pass it up!
THE WORLD-WIDE OVERVIEW
So I know you are all dying to know how our presentation went! Well, to give you an idea, Shane and I were in our hotel rooms, less than two hours before it was to start, selecting and loading slides into carrousels! While everyone else was out having fun with conference activities, we were arguing about whose slides to use, which ones to put where, who should follow who and how to possibly keep track of it all! We got the carrousels loaded and planned how to deliver the text outside of the conference room ten minutes before we were to go on! Talk about skating on the edge! But the presentation went fine. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to take it once from the top to get our timing down so we had to rush the last 50 or so slides. But judging from the reaction of those who spoke to us afterward, it was a success and left an impression on all who saw it. It left an impression on Shane and I as well. Believe it or not, the presentation itself was the first time either of us had seen all the slides together at the same time! The depth and variety of the work was breathtaking and inspirational. Lampworking is truly in the midst of a renaissance, and this is only the beginning! We have resolved to continue collecting slides and updating this presentation. We have made copies for each of us and plan to show this presentation whenever we get the opportunity. It is already pretty long, but I think it can be edited as it grows to keep it from getting too large. The text and a sampling of slides will be published in the GAS journal and also in the next issue of Glass Art as part of an article on lampworking by editor Shawn Waggoner.
For the second time in two summers, I taught a class on lampworking at the Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle. This year, I experienced none of the stark terror I went through last year, mostly because I now know what to expect from the place. Like last year, they really knocked themselves out to accommodate me and my needs and so teaching the class was all I really had to be concerned with. Believe me, it was enough!
For one thing, I discovered the night before I left that my class had ballooned from ten to twelve students. I had eleven last year and thought that was the absolute maximum I could handle, so I was just a bit concerned about having twelve. But it turned out the twelfth student was Patty Green, a longtime Pilchucker who had been Susan Plum's TA during the previous session. Patty turned out to be a tremendous asset to the class and helped out Alison with the TA duties whenever she could. Thanks for everything, Patty! Patty also works for Billy Morris and lives in a cottage on his property near the school, so we got a tour of Billy's barn where he does his shipping and keeps a couple of dozen pieces on display upstairs. It was just like a gallery exhibition of Billy's work with all his hanging artifacts, skulls, animal heads, ancient weapons, and cave drawings on display at their finest. The class wandered around in awe, snapping pictures and speculating on how some of these remarkable pieces were made. Billy was on a vacation in the Caribbean so we could not ask him but Patty filled us in wherever she could.
I was very fortunate to have Alison Sheafor again as my TA. Alison is perhaps the world's most experienced TA having done this an amazing ten times! Alison is not only a fine lampworker and a master bead maker, she is also an eight year furnace glassblower who has inspired her entire family, parents and two brothers, to take up glassblowing. She had moved from North Carolina to Marysville, which is about halfway between Pilchuck and Seattle the week before the class and had attended the Glass Lover's Weekend at Wheaton Village just that weekend. In the midst of the turmoil of moving and all this traveling, and while literally living out of boxes, she worked her fingers to the bone for me and my students. I have tremendous admiration for her and gratitude to her. Thanks, Alison, for a job superbly done!
One of the highlights of the session was our day trip to Seattle during which we visited Dale Chihuly's studio, otherwise known as the Boathouse. It took a few tries to set up the visit since we had to have an appointment, but eventually they fit us in on the second Tuesday of the session. Alise, who handles public relations and was our tour guide, set us up perfectly by starting us off in the lower conference rooms which were adorned with Chihuly's paintings, and leading us through a labyrinth of rooms set up like mini-galleries full of his baskets, persians, macchios, venetians, seaforms, and floats. Many of these pieces were absolutely enormous and really impressive to look at and realize that they were all blown by hand, or rather many hands. Just when we were beginning to experience a little sensory overload, Alise lead us into the pool room.
Our jaws dropped to the ground. We were standing in a concrete room over 75 feet long and 25 or 30 feet wide with 20 foot ceilings! There was no external light. The room was illuminated solely by the enormous chandeliers hanging at each end of the pool. One was deep blue and the other bright gold. The combination of colored light created an atmosphere perfect for the opulence of the pool itself. It was maybe 50 feet long and 20 feet wide and of uniform depth. In the middle was a rectangular depression nearly 18 feet long and 12 feet wide and maybe 3 feet deep that was completely filled with blown glass, persians, macchios, baskets, and seaforms of every conceivable color brightly lit from beneath so that they seemed to glow! As we stood there in stunned silence I tried to imagine Dale, swimming around buck naked in there, laughing at the world. Just then, I caught Alise's eye. She winked at me and said, "How's that for the best revenge?"
After a few more minutes wasted trying, probably in vain, to photograph the pool, we proceeded to the hot shop where Brian Rubino and the rest of the team were blowing some persians. This was very entertaining to watch and they blew out first a couple of smaller ones, and then a large one with a four foot diameter! The radiated heat was tremendous! The back of Brian's hand was covered with burns but he seemed to pay no attention, working within inches of this huge ball of hot glass. Good glassblowers are incredible to watch, far more entertaining than lampworkers could ever be I am afraid.
And then it was time to go. Alise had caterers coming in an hour and she hustled us out of there fast. But not before we paid a brief visit to the main dining room where we were treated to another of Dale's mind blowing wonders. The room was probably at least 100 feet long and took up most of the waterfront end of the boathouse. There was one table in the room. Made from a single log, and cut from the heart of the tree, was the largest single piece of wood I have ever seen, and may well be in the world. It was 85 feet long, 6 feet across, and 6 inches thick! I estimated that over 100 people could sit at that table at one time with plenty of elbow room! Conferences might be a bit difficult because, without loudspeakers, someone at the head of the table would never be able to make himself heard at the other end. But I bet some great parties happen in there!
Two columns ago I mentioned an additive for propane that had remarkable effects on the temperature of a propane and oxygen flame. I felt that this product might have a profound impact on the lampworking industry. Since that writing, Ricky Dodson has negotiated distribution rights nationwide and is now taking orders for Chem-o-lene. I have gotten some and can now give you a preliminary report.
Yes, it does work. But how well it works is a more complicated matter. I notice the difference most in situations where I am usually straining to get more heat out of my Carlisle CC bench burner. When working with large diameter tubing, the additional heat enables me to work even larger. For instance, I had struggled to blow a flare that was 8" across for more than a year. Try as I would, I just could not pop the lip out any wider. I could get to 7 3/4" consistently, but just did not have the heat to go any larger. The first time I tried with the additive, I blew one out to 8 3/4", and felt like I could have gone bigger! Likewise, when working large diameter rods, the treated propane flame enables me to hold and work the glass at a higher temperature and therefore I am able to work faster and keep the glass in the molten state longer.
But flames are complex beasts. When doing smaller work, the difference is less dramatic. Part of the reason is because the flame itself looks exactly like and behaves exactly like a normal propane and oxygen flame. The only evidence that the additive works is how the glass heats up. Once you get used to it, which happens very quickly, you may find yourself wondering if there is any difference at all. Lampworkers automatically adjust their flames to the task at hand, so if a certain amount of heat is needed, that is what he will demand from his torch. The result then, would be that a slightly smaller flame would be required since the flame itself is hotter. This would mean that a given procedure would take the same amount of time, but would require less gas. This is a more difficult effect to measure and to use to justify the expense of the additive and blender.
Another factor has to do with the physical properties of glass itself. Glass is an insulator and will only absorb heat so fast, regardless of the temperature of the flame. In a benchmark test that I tried, I set up two national torches, one with the additive and one without, and dialed in identical flames. I then burned apart a cold 1" rod in each one and timed it. Without the additive, I was able to burn the rod apart in 70 seconds. With the additive, it took 60. But the glass got much hotter at the surface using the additive. This indicates that there are certain procedures that will see a significant effect and others where the effect will be less dramatic. Some of the benefit will show up in hotter glass and quicker procedures, and some benefit will show up as gas savings. Much of the benefit in a given procedure will probably be a combination of both.
Still another consideration is the effect the greater heat has on tools. I think it is undeniable that there will be greater wear and tear on things like torch tips, graphite tools, and any other tool that comes into frequent contact with the heat. This is a cost that is difficult to measure. For me however, it has not been significant so far. I have not noticed any discernable wear on my torch tips and am careful to keep my tools out of the flame. Still, I think it would be wise to withhold judgement on this issue until I have used Chem-o-lene for at least a year.
So the real issue becomes one of cost. The initial purchase of the blender filled with a gallon of the chemical will set you back about $300 with shipping. The blender is a one-time purchase. Refills will then cost $225. At that price, is this product cost effective? The jury is still out. I had an accidental spill with my first batch and lost a significant amount, but the bottle was still empty after only two weeks. I called Ricky and he discovered to his horror that the bottle he had was empty too after only three months! A full blender is supposed to treat 600 pounds of propane, a nine month's supply for me, which would then make it acceptably cost effective. But this was not our initial experience. It turned out that any new system has bugs and we had stumbled upon one. There are two kinds of Chem-o-lene, one for natural gas and one for propane. We had inadvertently been shipped the wrong kind! The problem is now corrected. I received a free refill and will let you know how long it lasts. To help me monitor its use, I weighed the empty blender (12.2 lbs) and then the full one (18.8 lbs.). I will weigh it periodically and keep track for my next column.
The blender itself is a modified 5 lb. propane bottle. They have added some stuff inside and another faucet-like valve to the outside. The contents are not under any pressure nor does it generate any pressure of its own. This means that refilling the blender requires a simple reservoir to valve adapter and just drains into the open tank. The chemical is flammable and mildly toxic according to the MSDS I received, but it is not so nasty that it cannot be shipped by UPS ground. It is water-clear and smells for all the world like paint thinner. In fact, it did a fairly good job of stripping the gold paint off the filler adapter they sent me. I would avoid drinking it.
It is very easy to hook up. Your gas source plugs into the standard valve at the top of the tank using an adapter they will supply. The hose to your torch is connected to the faucet-like valve welded off to the side. That's it. Open both valves, turn on your gas and light 'er up. When you are done working, make sure that you not only shut off your main gas source, but also close both valves on the blender as well. The line pressure stays in the blender and, if you then bleed the pressure off your lines without closing the valves on the blender (the way I did the first time I used it), the chemical can be forced back into your gas lines, creating a real mess. When I taught my class at Pilchuck, I had been using the Chem-o-lene for two weeks. Then, I had to work without it for three. It was like having lead weights strapped to my feet. There is no doubt that this product does what the manufacturer claims it will do. Already, several prominent lampworkers are trying it including Paul Trautman, Milon Townsend, and Shane Fero. If you have any questions about it, I suggest calling one of them or Ricky or myself. You can order Chem-o-lene by calling Ricky Dodson at 1-800-670-GLAS.
MY WEB PAGE IS UP!
I would like to end this column by touting my home page on the World Wide Web on the internet. The address is http://www.websharx.com/~kahuna. That page has links to other pages based on my interests in surfing, computer graphics, and glass. Browse around, download the images, check out the other linked sites, and have fun! You can also leave me E-mail there or at my usual E-mail addresses firstname.lastname@example.org and 71042,751 on CompuServe. Check it out!
That's all for this issue. Until next time...
...Keep it hot!
DESIGNS IN MINIATURE: THE STORY OF MOSAIC GLASS.With a Chapter on 20th-Century Glass written by Susanne K. Frantz. The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, 48 pp. with 45 illustrations, 35 in color. Paper. 1995.
By Jutta Annette Bruhn.
This slim book is a treasure to own in spite of the absence of an index and the presence of only a minuscule glossary. (A random sampling suggested that there are at least 77 words used in the text which should have been explained in the glossary which only has 23 entries.) The author is the Curator of European Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass and the organizer of the current exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass, which has the same title as the book.(The exhibit closes 22. Oct., 1995). Most of the objects illustrated in color in the book are being featured in the exhibit.
The scope of the book is spelled out in the Introduction, viz: "It focuses exclusively on the technical and ornamental possibilities of cane slices applied and viewed as cross sections." (Emphasis added.) Also in the Introduction we learn that the term "millifiori", which, in Italian, literally means "a thousand flowers" was first used by the German scholar Heinrich Freiherr von Minutoli in 1827.
In addition to the color photographs the book also contains a number of expertly rendered black and white drawings by Mary Winkes. Unfortunately, some of these drawings (Fig. 2, in the brief Chapter on The Technology of Glass Canes, for example) contain portions which are not all drawn to the same scale. This results more in confusion than in explanation.
Other Chapters, not previously mentioned in this review, are: Canes in the Ancient World; Renaissance and Baroque Canes; The 19th Century: Revival and Innovations. The book concludes with a brief Bibliography.
If you have Sarpellon's book already don't hesitate to get this one if for no other reason than to have a good photograph of a Peacock murrina which is far better made than the example shown in the monograph. If you don't have the monograph because of its price, then get this book as a substitute.
Signature Gallery is pleased to announce the winners of ESSENTIALS, summer exhibition focusing on the Power and Sensuality of the human figure.
The honor of Best of Show and $1000 was awarded to Shane Fero for his entry "That Chromosome Thing X,Y,X,Y". His borosilicate sculpture successfully combines the sensuality of both sexes into one human figure that is both erotic and androgynous. Fero also weaves X's and Y's into the decorative treatment of the sculpture to reinforce the question, is it he or she.
Honorable Mention and a $500 award goes to David Leppla for his entry "Hiding from a Dream". This Pate de Verre and Lead Crystal sculpture depicts a figure that multiplies as you gaze into the piece. The repeating image is both powerful and sensual, moving and floating as the eye travels over and through it.
Over 150 American artists participating in BARE ESSENTIALS, which was on display at all three Signature locations through September 4, 1995.
Signature Gallery, Dock Square, 24 North Street, Boston, MA. 02109. (617) 227-4885.
February 2-5, 1996 10am-6pm
February 6, 10am-3pm
Southwest Center for Music
2175 North Sixth Ave.
Glass, porcelain and brass beads; glass bracelets, buttons, marbles and sculptures; findings, glass beadmaking supplies and equipment; related publications and instructional videos.
Marbles Appraiser and Broker on site.
On all Gem Show Shuttle routes.
Be the first to meet the exhibitors at A Gala Benefit for the Southwest Center for Music.
Hors d oeuvres Beverages and Music.
Meet Dr. Robert K. Liu of Ornament Magazine who will be signing his new book, Collectible Beads.
Advance Gala tickets $15 Dollars and advance copies of the exhibitors video $17 dollars available now from:
Crystal Myths, Inc., P.O. Box 3213, Albuquerque, NM. 87190. 1-800-873-2323. MasterCard and Visa Accepted.
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