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Glaskolben on a Surface Mix Torch

Whoa! This year has really flown by!  I was in the store the other day, looking at Halloween stuff and guess what was in the next aisle? Christmas stuff!  What’s up with that?  Can I get my trick or treating in, first?  Sheesh!

Well, since it’s obviously time to get a move on with the holiday stuff, I figure I should pull out my glaskolben and get to work if I want to have enough for the tree this year.  What are glaskolben, you ask?  Germany’s gift to Christmas, that’s what they are!!  Seriously, though, they’re pre-pulled points made from 90 COE glass (soft glass). They’re awesome!! If you’ve ever pulled points before, you know what a pain in the butt it is. Especially with soft glass. Well, that’s why glaskolben are so darned fabulous! The hard part’s done and all you have to do is blow to your heart’s content!

Because glaskolben are cylindrical in shape, some people have a hard time blowing a round ornament using them.  Well, it’s actually pretty easy to do so I made a short video showing how I do it. Also, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to use a fuel only torch, like a Hot Head, to use glaskolben.  I’ve always used an oxy/fuel torch for mine. Mostly the Lynx center-fire on my GTT Phantom, but I’ve also used my Bobcat & Cricket (also GTT) to make a few ornaments, as well.

So anyways, here’s the video. Enjoy!

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Building A Workspace On A Budget

So, recently I posted some pics on FaceBook and LE of my workspace and enough people questioned how I did it that I figure maybe it was something worth sharing. First of all, let me remind you that I put the “eap” in cheap. Mostly because I’m poor, but also because I must have a genetic mutation that won’t allow me to spend good money on anything other than running shoes and torches. I am ALWAYS looking for a bargain. (I found the best best BEST yoghurt in the world by being cheap!) That being said, I do realize that there are some things that you can’t cheap out on (running shoes and torches).

Anyway, on to my “studio”:

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Fan set up for use:

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The bench:
I scored a great deal on a workbench from Ikea. They were on sale for $25!! So I bought 3. It’s the perfect height, but a little too small so I bought a cheap 4×5 piece of plywood, cut it to size I wanted (3×4), wrapped it in some aluminum roof flashing and bam! Instant Awesome Bench! The roll of flashing was $15 for 20ft, the plywood was $8. I taped the seams with aluminum HVAC tape. (Already had it but costs around $8/roll).

The ventilation hood:
My ventilation consists of an inline vent fan and semi-rigid duct. The fan in the photos was found on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org) for $50 and the ducting is from Lowes. (Just happened to be closer to Lowes than Home Depot.) It’s 6″ and 435CFM. I’ve since upgraded to an 8″, 745CFM that I purchased on Ebay for $51. The 6″ actually worked a lot better than I expected, passing the “hot ball of glass dropped on carpet” test with flying colors. It also worked great for sucking stinky smells out when you forget about the half-eaten chicken sandwich you put behind your kiln. (Don’t ask.) This type of setup is much more effective if you have a straight run, rather than bends or arcs, like I have. Fortunately, I work next to a window so the run is short and I arched the duct, rather than using multiple 90 degree elbows. (Each bend cuts down the effectiveness of your fan) I suggest getting at least 8″, 700CFM for this setup. My new fan kicks major bootay!

To make a hood like mine, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 – 500CFM or more inline fan Ebay is a great place to look!
  • 1 – 90 degree duct elbow (around $5) Make sure you get a size that corresponds with your fan. (If your run is straight, you won’t need this.)
  • 1 – Roll aluminum HVAC tape (around $8. Multiple uses.)
  • 1 – Length of Semi-Rigid flexible duct (around $15. NOT the flimsy floppy kind for dryers!)
  • 1 – Register Boot. (around $6. Mine is 6×12.)

Getting the elbow, ducting and fan all assembled was a real Bee Eye Tee Cee Aych! Holy Crap! I do not envy HVAC guys at ALL. But even though it was a pain, it still only took about 30 minutes (20 minutes of jacking around with the stupid elbow!). I’ve since learned that there’s an awesome crimping tool you can buy that makes it a heck of a lot easier to fit the pieces together. I taped all the seams. The boot I taped inside, as well. The fan vents out the window to my right. I block the window with foam core board ($1.50) when I’m working. When I’m done, I pull the fan back and shut the window. I didn’t want to cut any holes in my wall or permanently block a window, so this system works very well for me.

Altogether, including the bench and vent system, I’ve spent less than $100 on my work space. (Some of the stuff I had laying around already.)
As you can see, it’s fairly simple. Don’t be fooled by this photo, though. It’s NEVER that clean! This how it usually looks:

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Make a Leaf and Foil Vacuum For Less Than $20

leaffoilvacA Leaf/Foil vac is a huge help when you are working with flyaway metals. It will keep you silver/gold/copper leaf or foil from flying all over the place while you’re trying to use it. To purchase a commercial one can cost $75-100. That’s pretty pricey for a single purpose tool that probably won’t get much use, and with me being a broke @ss, I’m not about to pay that kind of money! This video will show how to make one for less than $20 out of items you probably already have around the house.

 

 

Materials needed:

Computer Fan (CPU Fan)
A 9 volt battery
Metal screen or mesh (I used aluminum window screen)

In the video, you can hear the mesh rubbing against the fan a bit. All you have to do to fix that is use your fingers to bow the top away from the fan. The vac that I actually use has an on/off switch that I found at a surplus store and it cost about $5 ($4.95, to be exact). You don’t really need it but if you install a switch, you don’t have to keep connecting and disconnecting wires:

 

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Gluten Free Blondies: More Vegan Delights!!

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So, after my success with the Black Bean Brownies, I’ve been thinking about trying to make blondies. I finally got around to it and man oh man. They are awesome!! My first batch was a bit oily because I didn’t take into account the oil in the peanut butter, but boy oh boy are they good! I made a few adjustments to the recipe and will probably be making more of these babies this weekend. So, without further adieu, here ya go!

 

 

Ingredients:

1 15oz Can Great Northern (white) beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 Tbsp Oat Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp Coconut oil
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor or blender (food processor works best), and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into an oiled or lined 8×8 pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook 30 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Tips:

Garbanzos (Chickpeas) can be used instead of Great Northerns. Just make sure you rinse your beans really well. REALLY well. Until the water is clear.

I use Domino Light, which is a half calorie blend, instead of regular sugar. You can use a zero calorie baking blend, as well. Make sure it’s for baking. Be sure to taste your batter to make sure it’s sweet enough before baking. If the batter is yash, the blondies will be, too!

I make my oat flour by grinding whole oats (oatmeal) in a coffee grinder (a blender can be used as well). You can also use quick oats instead of oat flour.
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As you can see, this is practically the same recipe as for the black bean brownies, with a few small adjustments. I hope you like them as much as I do!

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Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies (Vegan, too!)

bbbrownieI’m not sure why I found this recipe. I think it was when I was cutting back on carbs, but regardless of the reason, I’m glad I did. It is fantastic!! It’s actually a combination of multiple recipes and a little experimentation. (The ones in the picture have a layer of coconut butter!) I know it sounds kind of gross. I mean, come on. Black Bean Brownies??? Ewww!! But I promise you, no one would ever know that these are made with black beans and are actually good for you! (high protein, low fat, high fiber…)

Please read the entire recipe and the tips at the end before making. You might regret it if you don’t…

Ingredients:

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 Tbsp cocoa powder (add a little extra if desired)
2-3 Tbsp Oat Flour
1/2 cup Stevia Baking Blend (or other 0 cal sweetener baking blend)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Coconut oil
2-3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor or blender (food processor works best), and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook 20-30 minutes (clean toothpick in center), then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Tips:

Make sure you rinse your beans really well. REALLY well.

One of the original recipes called for 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey (not vegan). I’ve found that you can do a mixture of sweeteners, as well (agave & stevia, etc) and sweeten to taste (I tasted the batter to make sure it was sweet enough). If you use one of the 0 calories brands, make sure it’s for baking otherwise it may turn bitter. You can also just use all sugar. You definitely should taste the batter to make sure it tastes ok before baking.

I made my oat flour by grinding whole oats (oatmeal) in a coffee grinder (a blender can be used as well). You can also just use quick oats instead of oat flour.

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Ahhh, Push It! Puh Puh Puh Push It! (Or How To Make Lampwork Push Pins In 5 Minutes Or Less)

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So, the other day I was trolling my favorite glass forum (www.LampworkEtc.com) looking for an old post on making doll eyes when I stumbled upon this thread, asking how to make push pins.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I know how to do that!! See, I’ve been planning on creating a color chart of all of my glass colors for quite some time, using glass push pins!! I think it’s a fabulous idea to have all of the colors laid out in a diagram with their proper numbers so that I know which ones I like, which ones I don’t particularly care for, and also what they look like after being torched and annealed. Glass push pins (tacks) are really quick and easy to make. However, being a procrastinator with the shortest attention span ever (squirrel!), I’ve never gotten around to making more than a dozen. Well, that thread motivated me to get my patootie in gear to get it done. I also filmed this short tutorial showing how I make mine. The same technique can be used to make earring studs, hat pins, etc. You just need to change out the base that you wind the glass onto. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Pulling Pre-sliced Murrini to a Point

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I love to make murrini! It’s done by layering different colors of glass in a specific pattern and then heating and stretching it into a rod (cane). Once it’s cool, you slice the cane into cross-sections and each slice has the same pattern. I find it to be challenging and quite enjoyable. I only wish I had a larger torch to really do some nice stuff. (Not that I can’t do nice things on the torch that I have. It just takes forever.)

Flower murrini is very popular with bead makers but most don’t make their own. (It’s very time consuming!) You get the best results with flower murrini that is pulled to a point, but most of the murrini slices for sale are not pre-pulled. I was in a creative mood last night, so I created a short video tutorial on how to pull your own points on pre-sliced murrini:

 

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Personal Challenge

So, as most of you know, I don’t really torch that much unless I’m working. My home bench is was completely dust covered from lack of use. Well, I’ve decided to try to get in at least 8 hours torch time a week. I think I can do that. I just need to shoot for 2 hours a day. Easy Peasy, right? Well, here are the fruits of my labor from day 1:

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Some discs, some spacers and some push pins. I plan on making push pins with all of my colors and putting them on a reference board. That should be fun…

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Lavender Burn Gel

pinkyburnWorking with hot glass can be a bit, um, hot at times. Soft glass has a tendency to pop and land in places you’d never want to have hot glass land. Sometimes, your hand just ends up in the flame. After a while, though, you just don’t scream any more…

4oz Aloe Vera gel
20 drops pure Lavender Oil

Mix well and store in a cool place.

Tips:
1. I use the sunburn aloe that has Lidocaine in it. It helps to numb the pain a bit.

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Hello World!

I am such a slacker!  I haven’t torched at home in ages and it’s been even longer since I’ve blogged. Tsk, tsk. I need to get on the ball!  A lot has been going on in my world. It’s been a crazy couple of years but things seem to be on track. 2012 has probably been the best year I’ve ever had! New career, new boyfriend…  Life is good!  Made these little girls yesterday. They make me smile!

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