The risk of the new

making a glass coil, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

A first attempt at making glass rings, to use in chains. I’m trying to adapt the method used to make metal jumprings from wire. This involves making a coil, then cutting it in a straight line perpendicular to the wrap, which gives you a bunch of separate rings which just need a little twist to close up. Click on the flickr link above for more images of the subsequent steps. Not sure if this is the most effective method in glass. Perhaps some research?

Because I have very little training in glass (two workshops in about fourteen years), I have a tendency to just jump in and try things when I think of something new. The first attempts are almost always time-consuming and awkward. Making that silly coil up there? It took me about an hour and a half. And it’s not very uniform. But I’m confident that the next time, things will go quicker and more smoothly. Being self-taught, you have to trust that this is true. You don’t always have to “figure out what you’re doing wrong” that makes it less than perfect. Often you just have to do it again, and again, and….

When I explain lampworking to people, and I get to the part about holding the rod of glass and sticking the end right into the torch flame (see the photo in the sidebar), they frequently ask, “doesn’t it get hot?” Because glass is an insulator, the answer is “no, not really.” If the rod of glass is very short, yes, you can feel some heat. And if you try to heat up soft glass too quickly, it will shatter and send bits of glass flying. And if you you make very small detailed work, getting very close to the flame, you might singe your fingernails from time to time. But generally, lampworking is pretty harmless, if you’re paying attention.

However, when you’re trying something new, there’s alot to keep track of. Especially if you’re accustomed to the torch being stationary, but you need a second torch which you’re moving around. You’re probably paying alot of attention to not burning anything on the workbench with that moving torch as you heat the rod to make the coil. You don’t want to let the gas or oxygen hose get hit by the moving flame. And sometimes the moving torch blows out and you have to relight it from the stationary torch. And so you feel proud when the coil is done, with no mishaps. And even more so when cutting off the rings goes easily. But if, when you go to fuse the glass rings closed, you forget about what is where, you might suddenly feel a sharp pain. That pain is your knuckle, which you’ve stuck in the flame of that other stationary torch, which you forgot about. But believe me, you’ll get your knuckle out of the flame before you even figure out what happened. This is the risk of the new, of flying by the seat of your pants. This is why mis-en-place is especially important for new procedures.

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1 Comment

  1. oh, I know exactly the “just jumping in” part. I always feel that there is probably a much easier and more time efficient way of doing something but I get impatient and just want to figure it out myself. I think we probably end up learning alot this way though.
    I just love those little glass rings. I would use them as beads -a big mass of them strung together in a messy bunch….

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