I found a trick with the oxygen tanks: I borrowed some camping tie-downs from my closet and used them as handles for the tank, useful when wrestling it from the foot well to the seat in my car. The rest was just fine. $32 for a refill, including $6.50 for my monthly tank rental (timely to pay it today). Melinda and I got 16 torch-hours in on the last one.
I tried several projects today:
Pendant holder. Just some 4mm clear rod in a V foot with a single rod as a stand. Nothing pretty but sort of fun to make. 4mm rod is a must if you want to try making smaller structures like this: fast to melt, and, frankly, fits in my kiln more readily.
Inside-out vessel. I've heard neat things about applying stringers or frit to the inside of a vessel so I tried it myself. Didn't work so well. I flared open a point of Conturax (glass invented by the devil, I'm pretty sure) and added dots of persimmon strike to the inside. I tried to flame strike the color, which sort of worked, but they just don't look very pretty. Close up the flare, open up the other end to make a very small pitcher, and call it done. I have a pitcher with lumps of color inside and red dots when viewed from the outside. I need to watch some tutorials here.
Rings. A by-product of Melinda's pendant assembly line is latticino about 3 inches long. I spent a few hours making rings out of these (well, out of similar items - I kept these bits in reserve for when I know how to actually make them). I use a very small flame and the 4mm rod for punty. In the flame I warm the art rod and give it a bit of downward coaxing. I continue to feed the rod through the flame past my tweezers that are doing the coaxing and soon have a semi-circle looped back to the straight bit of rod. Punty up the opposite side, burn off the excess and melt the ends together. Now, heat up two-thirds of the ring to an orange color and use a 2-10mm graphite reamer to round out the inside. I found that spinning the reamer between my fingers produces a smooth and round shape. The one-third that you don't heat up is the part that your punty's cold seal is attached to. Punty up on the opposite side, remove the first, and repeat the process, until you have a ring that's the size you want. Remove the last punty, smooth, and you're done. Making these rings is fast -- I made 8 or so in about 90 minutes. I had two types of failures. First, if the original glass isn't long enough, the ring will never be big enough (the glass will thin out too much as you stretch it and will break). Second, the cold seals produce a bit of stress on the ring at that point, and while stretching the rest of the ring I had three rings crack at the punty. They're still sort of okay rings -- they're just pi/8 radians open. I also tried using some reactive colors; we'll see what an impartial jury (Melinda) has to say about them.
Feathering and raking. I pulled several points out of 25mm thick-wall ordinary tube (hurray for no internal ribs!) and used one of them to practice featuring. I don't have that technique down _at all_. The perfect result is about 20 rows of very very thin color wrapped around the point, and this is produced by teasing the color onto the point as though you were drawing out cotton candy from a machine. My attempt produced 1/8" thick stringers and only about 6 bands. Not as pretty but I carried on. I then ran 4mm clear down the length of the point, dragging the colored bands with me. Pretty nice. Turned it over and I did it again, to double the effect. I ran out of 4mm rod, went to the shelf to get another, continued adding clear, and heard a *crick* followed by several aftershocks. Yep, thermal shock. Thick-walled tubing is thick-walled and I had too much of a thermal gradient. Oh well. But I carried on with the experiment, first on 10mm rod, then 7mm rod (of which I have more and which costs less to buy). I made a little ingot of peacock feathered and dragged on 7mm and I think it looks pretty nice. It's not the thin color bands that I wanted but, with the intention of making just ordinary stringer lines on the glass, I think this would work just fine.
Pictures of all of these things are forthcoming. It takes a little bit to set up my camera rig so I've been saving up material. By tomorrow I'll have many days' glass to photograph so I'm due.