mary lockwood lampwork beads

mary lockwood lampwork beads
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Monday, January 25, 2010

I think I figured something out...and a lampworking tip

If you follow this blog, you are aware that a hippo sized hunk of ice pile-drived my ventilation fan and killed it dead.  If you know ME, you know this is a deal breaker.  I'm a safety NUTCASE and won't work without my ventilation running.

I've taken a cursory look at the situation with the fan. I did manage to lift the cover and un-dent the top enough that I could reach up inside and the fan blades spin freely.  I'm thinking, "YES...I am woman, here me roar.  I fixed the fan."  I go down to the studio, flip the breakers back on, turn on the fan switch.  Nothing.  Nada. Zippo.  Zilch.  Crud.  So I will have to make a more in-depth assessment of the situation.  In the meantime, I'm not working.  Which means I'm not selling my beads.  Which means I'm not reaching the goals I set for myself for 2010.

The options open to me are- 1. buy a new fan. 2. fix the old fan (unlikely). 3. move back into my old studio temporarily (I never took out the old ventilation system).'s just a couple of hoses, some clamps and a bit of awkward lifting.  I moved my torch, oxygen concentrator, hoses and the bare essential tools/glass back into my old studio so I can work until my ventilation is fixed.  If you've stuck with that drawn out account of my ventilation epic you've come to the revelation part---I missed my old studio space.

I moved into the basement last summer- new ventilation, new work bench, new everything.  It was shiny and exciting and HUGE and everything I thought I wanted.  But my work has been suffering.  I thought I was just mental or something.  But I struck the torch alight yesterday afternoon, sat down on my stool in the room where it all started- the spot where I learned how to melt glass.  The place where all my best ideas came to life. The 5' x 6' unheated, un-airconditioned enclosed back porch with the wrap-around windows and I made more GOOD beads in one session than I've made since I moved.  The loud, clangy ventilation fan. The cold draft hitting me in the back of the head. The frozen toes.  I was HOME.  Check these out:
Sorry for the rough photo, I just took them out on the front porch and snapped this shot.  I'll be listing these over the next hour or so on Etsy so you can find better pictures there eventually.  The earring pair is going to be today's recession buster listing at $5.

I'm tickled, but I also wonder what this means for me.  Am I going to ever fix the broken ventilation?  Am I going to move back to my old studio?  Is this just a fluke?  I don't know.  I'm going to take it as I can get it and enjoy whatever happens.

And finally- the lampworking tip.  If you're like me (and I suspect lots of you are because I'm not so unique) then you have several little dishes of assorted frits/powders/etc. sitting on your workbench at any given time.  Personally, I use baby food jar lids.  I keep the frit in 2oz baby food jars and I use the lids as trays to pour the frit into to roll the beads.  When I'm done with a color, I pour it back into the jar, screw on the lid and Bob's your uncle. 

However, if I have colors I use frequently sometimes I pour them out into the lid and they never get poured back into the jar.  Sometimes other flotsam makes its way into your little tray of frit.  Bugs, glass shrapnel, bead release, dog hair---whatever.  If that gets mixed in with your frit then it makes it kinda useless.  You don't want to roll your bead in flaked off bead release.  There was a time when I would just dump that tray into the trash and pour fresh.  Then I got smart. 

If you dampen the tip of your finger and touch it to the impurity on top of your frit tray, it will pick up whatever intruder is there and get rid of it for you.  I used to try to pick them all out with tweezers, but that is hard because you end up not being able to close the tweezers on the 'litter' very well because it closes on the frit first.  After you have the litter (and a small amount of frit too) stuck to the end of your finger, just dip your finger in a bowl of water and all the frit and litter will fall to the bottom of the bowl.  Then you can dip your finger back into the frit and repeat until you have it all clean.  Usually that litter only gets on the top of the frit, not mixed in, so it only takes a few seconds to save your tray of frit from certain doom.  Besides, it reminds me of when I was a kid and used to stick my fingers in the sugar bowl. ;-)

Thanks for reading!