Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's been a while since I posted anything here. Time to start anew!

It's a "dark and stormy night" here on The Rock (Kodiak Island). - wind, a little hail burst - good time to be inside near the glowing monitor. March is often an adolescent here - trying out different behaviors - rainy, sunny, snowy, calm, hail, sunny.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The production model for boro.

Here it is:

You can make stoppers from a little over 1/8 inch up to 1/2 inch that are practically airtight. No more stoppers falling out of your vessels! No more customers saying that their expensive perfume evaporated!

Finally in production!

Well, it's been a long time coming! The earliest photo I have of the stopper tool is from December of 2003, although I had been using it for perfumes for some time before that.

So I can truly say, "years in development."

In July of last year I finished the final prototype and began searching for someone to make the production model. After lots of trials and tribulations I can finally say that it is ready for the market. The testers gave me good feedback and I feel confident that it will make a difficult job not only possible but with practice it will be easy!
I'm still working on the additional tools that will make it work for soft glass, but that is coming in the very near future.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Soft glass vessel tool

I've been working on how to make the stopper system work in soft glass. The main problem is the inside taper on the neck. This is my latest solution.
The tapered head fits on to a standard 1/4 inch blow tube. You dip the tapered mandrel head in bead realease and build your vessel on the end, a la Tink Martin. This gives you a neck that has an inside taper that matches my stopper making block. When you are done, you pull the vessel off with a kevlar glove and put it in the kiln. After it is annealed, you clean out the release, measure the size of stopper you need with the matching tapered reamer, match that to the right hole in the block and make a stopper. After it is cool, you use grit to make it fit exactly, takes about 30 seconds of grinding. Voila!
I have made many vessels like these in boro this way. My only problem with this is that I have not been able to find someone to make the tapered heads at a reasonable price yet. Apparently, small stainless is hard to machine. My two prototypes cost me $75 each!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More about vessels

I've been working on making and teaching vessels a lot lately. I think I'm getting better at teaching and have worked out a simpler small vessel style. For these tiny (for me) pendant vessels, I don't use my pivoting roller stand. And instead of coiling off the end of a tube, I wrap color up the tube. This gives a much stronger and even walled base to work from, which is a great advantage for beginners.
I just finished about twenty of these for a vessel exchange on Lampworketc. I have also finished the final prototype of my stopper-making tool. This works fine for boro, but I don't know how it would work for soft glass. I need to find a lampworker who works in both media to try this out.

-Don- the fyrsmith

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Teaching boro vessels

I have been trying to work out a tutorial for small scale boro vessels, using still photos and it just won't come together. Working with a student in my studio, going through all the steps, I finally realized what some of the problems are.
When teaching a live student, I can say "blow a little harder", or "watch how the glass is moving when you get the heat base just right." These are things that just don't translate into still photos well, or at all!
Another factor is that in my previous tutorials, I was designing them for an audience who already had an applicable skill set. So I was showing how to make a specific object, knowing that my audience already knew the basics of moving the glass around.
While talking to my student this week about my problems with this project, I realized that soft glass beadmakers, even very good ones, don't have the set of basic skills for working with boro tubing. The timing is different, the way the glass moves in response to heat and gravity is different and even the tools are different. Lampworkers who do beads and small sculptures very seldom use puntys. All of which means that I first have to teach (as I did with my studio student) some basic things about blowing bubbles, using puntys, applying dots and wraps to thicken walls, graded heat base etc before we can even get to how to complete a vessel.
So, instead of saying "here is a tutorial on how to do boro tubing vessels," I need to say "here are a set of exercises to help develop the skills you will need in order to do boro vessels."
In retrospect, that is how I taught Zora (daughter and studio wench) to do vessels. Step by step, learning each skill until I could say, "now put it all together and make a blown vessel."
I think the light bulb over my head just came on!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tres jolie!

I've wanted a berry bowl with saucer for a very long time. Recently, I found just what I wanted on etsy at StudioElan I opened it up today - beautiful! well made! and well packed for its journey from Ontario to Kodiak Island! And with a personal note! I love excellent customer service! Thank you so much. Eleanor, the potter at StudioElan has a blog, too, with behind-the-scenes pictures of her work. See it at