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Cleaning Brass Tools Without Chemicals Or Harsh Abrasives

wpid-wp-1442632799541.jpegAs a glass artist, I use a lot of brass tools because hot glass doesn’t stick to brass.  They tend to get tarnished (patinaed) when left sitting unused, which really isn’t a big deal, as this doesn’t generally affect the use of the tool, but it’s not very pretty.  Recently, I’ve come across a bunch of antique brass German fruit knives, which are AWESOME for moving hot glass! They’re over 100 years old, so some (most) of them have a lot of tarnish. I’ve been reselling them, so if you’ve purchased one, here’s how to get it all nice and shiny, like new, again.

These methods work on ALL brass, so if you have some old presses, doorknobs, buttons, etc., that need a good cleaning, here are a couple of inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to do it.

Method #1

Ketchup (Catsup or however you want to spell it.)

Yep. That’s right! Good ol’ Heinz isn’t just for hotdogs & hamburgers. Just spread some wherever the tarnish is, let it sit for a while and then rub it off, rinse and dry. You may have to repeat a few times, depending on how bad the tarnish is.

wpid-wp-1442632835652.jpegSmear ketchup on tarnished area. Let sit.

wpid-wp-1442636412826.jpegRub ketchup off. Repeat, if needed.

Method #2

Lemon juice

Put your tool in a container and pour enough lemon juice in to cover the area to be cleaned. Let it sit for a while and then wipe off the tarnish. If needed, repeat. Once all tarnish has been removed, rinse and dry.

wpid-wp-1442636146075.jpegPlace item in container. (baggie or shallow dish. wpid-wp-1442636159644.jpegPour enough lemon juice to cover item. Let sit.
wpid-wp-1442636429091.jpegWipe off tarnish and repeat, if needed.

Once the tarnish has been removed, there might be a little discoloring (orangey or pinkish color). This can be removed by polishing with super fine steel wool (000 or 0000). This will give your item a nice shine and won’t scratch it as long as you don’t press too hard.

If you would like to purchase a knife, I have them listed here.

Tips:

1. Vinegar can also used, as well as citric acid dissolved in water.

2. If your item is really bad, you can add some salt to your lemon juice or vinegar to make the reaction stronger. Make sure the salt is completely dissolved in the lemon juice or vinegar BEFORE you put your item in the container.

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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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Mini Tutorial – Ribbon Cane

ribboncane2I made this mini tutorial several years when I had an “Aha” moment.  I’d never been able to make a proper ribbon cane until Jeff Barber took a moment to demonstrate it for me in a class I took back in 2006. (I raved all about it in this post.)  I posted the tutorial on LE, but not to my blog. Pretty dumb, huh? So, anyways, I’m sharing it here, now.  I certainly hope it helps someone!

First, choose a rod of a pale transparent (clear or whatever color you like):
1. Melt a blob (gather) and mash it into a paddle.
2. Square off the sides.
3. Paint a color (thinly) on 1 side of your paddle.
4. If you want a 2-tone ribbon, paint another color on top of the first color.
5. Cover the colored side with a big blob of the base transparent.
6. Flip the paddle over and put another big blob of of the base transparent on that side and all around the edges. (your color should be right in the middle of the blob, now.)
7. Attach another rod of the base transparent to the other side so that you now have a handle on each side.
8. melt the blob evenly, keeping it from getting distorted.
9. When it gets soft enough (melty but not quite drippy), flip it semi-vertical and start to pull and twist at the same time.

Don’t twist too fast or pull too fast because that will cause the ribbon to become distorted.ribboncane1

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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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Horizontal Hearts

I shot this impromptu video a while ago because someone asked for tips on making heart beads and since Valentines Day is closer than you think, I figured I’d throw this post up.  And I also need more blog entries. I’m sooo LAZY!!!

So anyways, back to the matter at hand: Heart Beads!  Heart beads are super easy and super quick. This is a quick video on how I make my hearts. I prefer horizontal holes because it makes stringing them easier. I really hate wiring beads. : HATE IT!!

Steps:
1. Make a good sized bead, kinda fat. Make sure the ends are good (not jagged or lopsided).
2. Roll the bead lightly on a marver to flatten it and then heat the middle.
3. Using a straight edge tool, (like a butter knife or razor blade) roll the bead along the edge, like you’re cutting it in half . That’s your crease.
4. Heat the bottom center pretty hot and roll the mandrel back & forth quickly to form the tail. (watch the video)

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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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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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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: