My goal for Saturday was to work on marbles, specifically, on recalling how to make a very smooth and round marble. I ended up making six marbles in total: two opposing spiral marbles and four frit marbles. I patterned my opposing spiral technique from the Essential Lampworking video and it turned out pretty well. Lay down lines of color on a 10mm rod (oh - my Arrow Springs order arrived Friday - new color, new frit, and 10mm clear rod); twist and clean the end, lay down more lines of color, twist the opposite way, encase. There's more steps (condensing the color) but watch the DVD for details. For my artwork I didn't make it small enough, so the encasement didn't fully cover the art. So there's some dots of color around the edges. It doesn't look great but the design of the spiral is pretty. Oh, I also used lines that were too thick and without enough clear in between them. And so the spiral checkerboard patches aren't quite as equally sized as they should have been.
The frit marbles were just encased bits of the four frit that we know own: Aqua Azul, Twilight, Sno White, and Clover. For these I made a gather on 10mm, dipped it in frit on travertine tile, condensed, gathered, then mashed on another gather from a different 10mm rod; condense, and make a marble. Probably about 30 minutes per marble, with at least half of the time being spent smoothing out what looks like a hamburger of frit between two clear gather buns. Lots of heat at the seam eventually blends the two buns together. Also, I rounded out the marbles about four times each, not just twice, in order to get a very smooth shape. This was another tip from the Essential Marbles DVD.
I rounded out the day with a penguin on an iceberg of Sno White and Twilight frit.
Sunday, we got to see our Saturday work. My marbles turned out well but I dropped the better of the two spirals from 8" above the table and it broke clean in two. Ugh. So I fire polished it so I could still have the two halves. The frit marbles turned out well. And, importantly, I'm pretty happy with how round the marbles turned out. Lots of heat, patience, and rounding out one hemisphere at a time for several hemispheres.
I spent most of Sunday making penguins. I got this idea that I could make a set of 8 or so each with a different color for the iceberg, and use them as game markers for board games or something. I ended up making five penguins today: white, black, blue (cobalt), red, and gold. I experimented with a different way to put the white chest on the penguins: I add white to the raven black rod directly, condense and smooth it out so it's even, then add that mass to the iceberg. (In fact, I first add feet to the iceberg, then place the body+bib on the feet.) I'm pretty happy with this result. The white bib now extends to the feet, rather than only to the belly, and it's much better integrated with the penguin body. Prepping the body also means I can build up the raven rod a bit more thickly in order to have a more robust penguin. My penguins from the previous days, save the first one I ever made, were sort of too small for my liking.
Making the penguins is a lot of close-up work and I found myself often putting my face about 5" from the flame (it was a narrow flame). I'm pretty sure I must have a sun tan or something now. (Melinda does, in fact, have a bit of a sun tan or burn just below her neck, but she was melting lots of 5/8" thick rod to make paperweights.)
I rounded out the day by trying to make a small vessel. 1/2" (I think...) tubing, standard thickness wall. Clean to leave a closed end but with the same thickness as the wall. Heat until the tubing begins to collapse then roll in frit. Heat, condense, and blow. In part, inflate in order to prevent the tube from collapsing. Once the frit is fully condensed it's fair game to blow to make a bubble. I think my bubble ended up at a bit more than twice the original diameter of the tubing, and so the wall thickness is about half its original (or maybe a bit less). And the frit very nicely stretches out in the process. I made two vessels; the first one cracked and broke into shards. I had wrapped white frit with cobalt stringer, which looked pretty interesting and probably wasn't the source of cracking. Temperchi doesn't have finger grippers yet so I had to use a punty on the vessel bottom to hold it. I didn't realize how thin the bottom glass was, and so I think the punty cracked the bottom due to thermal shock or physical stress. Too bad, though, that this happen only after I'd finished the vessel and was breaking off the punty. Figures. On the second vessel I made I used twilight frit, no other color, and burned off rather than broke off the punty. I had a crack in the bottom but the added glass seems to have fixed it (we'll see on Tuesday when I collect today's work). I think, in future, I need to just make the bottom more thick right from the start: let the end of the tube close in more to leave more glass there. It's otherwise going to be the part of the tube that's been stretched the most, because that's the part of the tube that doesn't otherwise exist when I start using it at the beginning of the day.
Making the neck of the vessel was not as easy as I expected. Cutting off the tube closed the neck, which I did expect, but I don't have a great technique for opening it again. I can't just blow to open it because the vessel is fully closed up. I tried tearing off the end glass but that mostly just tore off the glass from the neck at a uniform rate, not opening it up. I finally used my tungsten pick in order to poke a hole, then coaxed it open the rest of the way with my reamer. (And, all this while, I hear the occasional *crick* from the punty on the bottom of the vessel.) I need to watch some tutorials on opening closed tubes, and maybe just practice on a tube for a while.
And, that was that. Melinda spent the time making pendants and made at least half a dozen of very nice ones: swirls of color, and with very nice bails. We were joined at Temperchi by someone named Ian taking an intro beadmaking course from Jon. And, as has become our routine, we took a 20 minute break each day in the middle in order to run to Starbucks. Time goes by quickly when you're engrossed in melting glass.