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How To Remove A Stuck Bead

DSC_0145We’ve all been there. You work so hard and the bead turns out absolutely beautiful! You can’t wait for the kiln to ramp down so that you can take it off the mandrel and show it off before listing it. Finally, it’s all cooled down, so you pop it in a glass of water to soak a bit before taking it off. After a good soak, you twist, and nothing happens, so you twist harder. Then you get the rubber gloves and vice grips… Still nothing. Someone suggests a vinegar soak but that doesn’t work, either. You try it all: vinegar, the freezer, fabric softener, dragging the mandrel on concrete… All of it and nothing works! Dammit!! You worked so hard and it’s the most beautiful, perfect bead you’ve ever made. It’s going to sell for hundreds! Thousands, possibly even millions. Okay, maybe only $50, but in our minds, it’s a bucketload, but oh nooooo… It had to get stuck on the freakin’ mandrel! Stupid ol’ crappy bead release…

Yep. We’ve all been there. Well guess what? There’s a super duper, easy peasy way to get those stock beads off without so much as a struggle.

Rivet Guns!!

A rivet gun will push a stuck bead right off without you even breaking a sweat. And they’re cheap, too! You can pick one up at Harbor Freight for less than $5! ($4.99, usually: http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/hand-riveters/hand-riveter-set-38353.html) Check out this video to see how it works:

Although I’m not using anything in the video, you should really use something to cushion the bead from the rivet gun, like a piece of leather or a buffing pad. Just put it on the mandrel to provide a buffer between the bead and the metal part of the rivet gun. (Dremel buffing pads already have a hole in them and work great for this.)

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Gnomio, oh Gnomio…

I am still a  slacker!  I still  hardly ever torch at home, although I’m trying to get in the studio at least once a week. Emphasis on trying.  Nothing new going on except these little guys. They make me smile!

 

gnomes

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Lampwork Cabochons, No Mandrel!!

Glass cabochons are really easy to make and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a mandrel to do it! I free-hand all of mine. Not that I make a lot, and since I don’t, I never felt like a cabochon mandrel was something I wanted to add to my already overwhelming collection of stuff I don’t use.

So anyway, here’s a short video showing how I make mine. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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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”:

benchsetup2

Fan set up for use:

benchfan1a1
benchfan1b

 

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:

20150304_190849

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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:

 

leaffoilvac2

 

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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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My leg, my leg, my leg is on fire!!

We don’t need no water, let the mutha fu…

Well, that’s not really how the song goes, but it definitely describes my morning. What happened, ask ye? Being the Artiste Ingénieux that I can sometimes be, I had the bright idea of trying to make an off mandrel wine stopper topper, James Tinker style. His way of doing it is way cool, but the creative genius in me decided to make it a fish. Sounds simple enough, eh? Well, I got it a little too hot and it melted off the punty right into my lap! It burned through my shirt, and into my pants and got stuck in the leg, which promptly caught fire. OMFG!!!! You should have seen me jumping around, doing a discombobulated rendition of the Running Man. (Don’t act like you don’t know what that is). Anyway, I torch in front of a rather large window, so I’m pretty sure my neighbors are now convinced that I am the only no rhythm having sistah in the hood…

Now on to the gore. (Not really gory, but definitely not pretty)
Immediately after:

Inside lower left leg.
<–Mmmm, fried Nette leg. Note the crispyness.

East of Eden.
(stop tryin’ to peek at my nani!!)

6 hours later:

<–Whew! That was close!
Sheesh! A couple of inches to the right and I could have canceled my appointment for the Brazilian!

So, what have we learned from this? Torch naked! It’s safer. And use a tripod for those awkward shots. (Just kidding, folks! Except for the part about the tripod)

Well, I need to go put more aloe on my wounds. See Ya!

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Ouch, Ouchie, Effin’ Ouch!!!!

Dammit, dammit, dammit!!! I just burned the shiznat out of the index and middle finger on my right hand. Roast Digit, anyone? Like the big dummy I can sometimes be, I stuck my hand directly in the flame! How’d that happen? Ugh! I walked away from the torch and left it running. I never do that. Well, maybe to step across the kitchen to get a drink, but I never just leave the torch running and go piddle around elsewhere. That’s just stupid. And dangerous. Ok, so back to how I burned myself. When I came back to the torch, I noticed the flowmeter on my oxycons were reading low, so I stuck my hand in front of the torch jets to see if the air was flowing. Normally, this would be just fine. Air poses no danger, but when you’re a dinklemeyer who left the torch burning… Well lets just say Barbeque Phalanges… But you know, today must be “Let’s do dumb sh*t” day. I’m not even going to go into the other bonehead crap that I did. Let’s just say it involved pop (soda to you non-midwesterners) and a 1-year-old.

Ok, so anyway, I just got 4lbs of the “New” Light Pink, Effetre 260. Man, this stuff is wayyy darker than the Dark Pink (256). I feel like such a sucker! I paid 40 bucks for 1 stinkin’ pound of the Dark Pink. Not only was it not dark pink, it was nearly identical to my Light Pink, which was only aroun $12/lb. Ugh! And I don’t even like pink. I’m just a glass whore. (FYI, I am not a girly girl. I just play one in the movies.)

So anyway, I’d like to say thank you to Jon at LBSupplys (Ebay) for his super fast shipping and excellent packaging, as always. Also, I just want to mention that I did notice that at least one seller is selling the new Light Pink 260 as Dark Pink 256 and not selling the “new” light pink batch at all. I’m not going to mention any names, but just beware. Look closely at the pictures before you order (the new 260 has a slight lavenderish tint. Dark Pink 256 does not). Jon still has some listed, so I suggest you click the link ^up there^ and buy it from him at the regular price. Not the jacked up “Odd Lot” or fake “Dark Pink” price.

Toodles for now!