Embracing a new medium, 10 things I learned today about glass

I saw some incredible glass beads at Grove Gallery. They are like little universes. The colors are intoxicating, as they blend from one to another. They were created with a torch in a system called lampwork. I still have to look up why.

My first surprise is the cost of embarking on this venture. Art supplies are crazy, but you can’t really start glass without some sort of kiln and easy gas sources are not bad in the short run, they’d add up quickly, yet a good torch system is flat out costly, too. Basic tools and safety equipment and a selection of glass is not bad. You just can’t really DO anything with it unless some dollars are expended.

So, I’m making expendable experiments, in order to learn, see if I like the medium, and see if it likes me. So far it’s hard on the eyes and I already know I need glasses that filter the light. I have to stand at the table I’m able to use, but that’s ok for short runs. I NEED ventilation, as just today I got the classic carbon monoxide headache etc.

After three sessions I think I’ve encountered almost all that can go wrong ( i could REALLY regret having written that, but it feels that way). That means I’ve learned a lot about what not to do which gets me closer, I hope, to what I DO want to do. I’m reading and watching videos like an addict and between trying and learning and trying I do have faith I’ll make progress, but it’s going to take more time than any medium has to date.

The hot glass is like hot caramel, so the feel is familiar. Only practice can tell me exactly where in the flame I need to be for various process, or how hot or cold things need to be to accomplish what.

Beginning Beads1_Web
Lampwork. The black and orange heart blew up when I took the shot…still too hot on the inside. Learning curve #50.

I’m posting this photo of my first pieces…a blue bead (the first on that survived, as I had issues with a substance that’s SUPPOSED to hold it on the mandrel (rod). If you only knew what beautiful things I had in my head going in…unrecognizably different from what came out.

What I learned today:
Fine threads of glass can poke right into your finger and make it bleed.
Clear glass is harder than solid colors – or so it seems.
If you don’t warm glass up slowly, it can blow up.
If you don’t cool glass downs slowly, it can blow up.
Even when the glass does not seem molten, it can still be very sticky.
Imagining it, does not make it so.
Hotter is better/faster.
The blob should be bigger.
Don’t push too hard.
Don’t panic.