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Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Time Event
Cooking this weekend
Saturday: banana pancakes and bacon. Bacon was applewood smoked fancy pants bacon from Piazza's, and pancake mix was buttermilk something or other mix. I also sautéed the leftover bananas, sliced, with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, in butter for a couple of minutes. Mmm, tasty.

Also Saturday: chocolate chip cookies. I was going for a crunchy yet not flat cookie, so I made the dough with instant pudding but baked it at 325F for 18 minutes. The second half of baking time was on the rack in the top-most position in the oven. The cookies turned out pretty well, IMO. I chilled the batter for about 6 hours, while owens888, spongiform, and I watched Coraline 3D, ate dinner, and played Dominion and To Court the King. The dough was very congealed by the time I spooned it into cookies, so I hand-rolled most of the balls in order to keep them coherent. I could see the bits of solid butter in the dough. Mmm... I tried to count calories in the cookies and I think each one ended up as 100 calories.

Sunday: scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese. I wilted the spinach, along with some fresh basil, and I sautéed the mushrooms with butter and a few bits of bacon (all the bacon was leftover from Saturday morning). Running low on butter I tried using olive oil, but this didn't work: the mushrooms didn't brown as much, didn't give off the water they would otherwise, and just didn't taste right (still tasted more like raw than buttery mushrooms). So I tossed in the rest of the butter and made the mental note that I'd need more butter soon. The eggs were 5 whole and 4 yolks. The plan was to use 8 whole eggs but egg number 5 was weird: yolk was not firm and whites were milky. I tried to remove the weird egg from the bowl, failed to capture the albumin, and so instead rescued the otherwise good yolks, dumped the rest, and added 5 new eggs to the leftovers. Net result was a very yellow scramble, which was nice. I started the scramble with just the eggs in the pan, let them firm up, then added the other bits (and some salt and pepper) while stirring, until the mass was about 60% egg and 40% other. Tasty. I didn't finish off the non-egg mix-ins so I put them (spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and grated cheese) in a microwave-safe container with the intention that they'll be lunch for me tomorrow.
Lampworking today
Melinda and I and our friends Greg and Rebecca spent the evening at Public Glass, practicing our lampworking skills. Greg and Rebecca have recently taken the same intro to lampworking class at the Crucible that Melinda and I took and they now wanted to get going with their new-found hobby.

PG's studio is really sorta just barely held together. It's raining today, inside and out: the skylights leak, there's a puddle on the ground in the warm shop, and the drip is right behind where the lampworking benches are. It's also cold because the doors are open while someone is spray painting plywood in the back and while we're burning propane in the shop. If only I had my own house...

I spent the first half of the session making turtles: a flat disk of glass, four bits for the legs, one bit for the tail, and a large bit for the head. I followed instructions in a book I've been reading, and I chose to work on this piece because I wanted practice adding bits to a work in progress and on adding handles (the head and tail of the turtle both are handles during the work). My first turtle is sort of a neolithic representation of a turtle but by the third or fourth I was pretty happy with the result. I stopped at four turtles and let the little turtle family cool on the edge of the table.

I did some maintenance work today, too, mostly of my own things. I halved three sections of tubing and polished the ends; these will be used for implosion marbles when I have the chance. I cut several more punties from my stock of 30 or so 3' lengths of clear rod. And I put some 19mm stock on punties. I also learned some maintenance tricks at PG. We needed a new oxygen tank, which was wheeled in from the other room. The regulator gets tightened with a crescent wrench to be pretty tight but not Atlas tight. Leave the regulator in full-closed (all the way out) position to relax the spring when not in use. Open the tank all the way, because there's a lot of pressure in it and that's what the regulator is for. Listen for leaks; Greg heard one and a bit more tightening fixed it. Turn the propane on only 1/4 turn, so it's easy to turn it off quickly if something catches fire. The regulator on the propane tank doesn't show the tank pressure correctly; it shows 0 psi. The other gauge also seems probably broken, because it showed 0 psi on the regulated side even as gas was flowing.

When four torches were on at once the gas didn't quite keep up. I'm not sure what was the problem: was the regulator set incorrectly? Were we low on gas? Was one of our torches set too high, burning off too much gas? Hard to say. It got progressively worse during the 4 hours we were there, to the point that, at the end, I couldn't melt a 19mm rod at all. Good time to pack it up for the night.

We used the annealer, which was a first for me at Public Glass. The center annealer has a control box that reads the current temperature and set temperature. I set it to 1050F and it heated up. The annealer had a tray and supports in place, which someone must have put in for slumping, as Herb (someone who's at PG often) guessed. We took those out to leave the annealer otherwise empty. As we left we turned off the annealer; it'll cool down gradually and will be room temperature by the time I come back Monday to pick up the pieces. I left a note saying I'd do as much.

In addition to the turtles I also made:

a cane (white core with emerald and clear stripes). I pulled it, but probably too thin, as the details are hard to see. I liked the white core more than the clear core, though.

a marble, from the same cane.

a tapered icicle-like thing, with a loop. I wanted to create something that Joe and Sangeeta made in December but I don't know how they did theirs. I tried using some blue along a clear core with some frit, but the frit didn't melt well (this was at the end when the flames weren't very hot) and I couldn't get the taper to be smooth. I made a loop at the top but it was cumbersome: I pulled a thin bit of glass, melted it slightly, just enough to be lucky to bend in a loop shape, then attached it to the top. I need more practice with making loops.

Oh, and, I practiced making cold seals. My cold seals have been too hot, so they don't break off cleanly. The fix is to let the working piece cool off a bit and to let the punty cool off to an orange to dull orange color. Pink or brighter will integrate the punty glass into the working piece, which is exactly what you don't want to do.

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