Tabletop Glass Blowing – Part II

•November 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Don Mckinney Studio Series Glory Hole is very similar to the previously blogged about Murphy Firebucket.  Over all interior dimensions are 6″ wide by 13″ deep with a 5″ opening, exterior dimensions are 20” tall, 10” wide and 16” deep and is available at Glass Obsessions.  It looks more substantial to me (totally my aesthetic preference) and has larger dimensions, but the opening is still 5″ for both which limits the size of your glass pieces. It does not come with tools like the Firebucket, so you will have to weigh the value of that in your purchase.

Both use the same burner and blower and the only difference that I see is the Don McKinney has rollers instead of a notch. Both run about 45hrs on a single bbq tank.

Another option is to build one yourself.  If you have basic metal skills, a glory hole could be fashioned out of a metal drum or trash can lined with fiber frax with a burner and blower attached.  Glass Notes is an excellent resource on building all kinds of furnaces and glory holes as well as other useful glass related information. 


October Inspiration – Skulls

•October 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

With the Day of The Dead coming up soon, I have been looking around at skulls, specifically sugar skull designs in glass.  I recently bought a skull press by Zooziis and have used it a few times with varying results.  Possibilities for this press include pressing colored glass and then encasing with clear, pressing clear, fuming and encasing, filling the press details with powder or enamels and pressing in another color, and many others.

Skulls can also be formed freehand like these beads by Bonnie of Puddytat Glass:

and Patty T:

These Sugar Skulls by Renee Wiggins of JetAge Studio were formed with a press by Bavarian Beads and enhanced with her handmade  murrini:

Ghostly 3D Marble by Chris Scala:

October Inspiration – Blown Glass Pumpkins

•October 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Fantasy Blown Glass Pumpkins by Chris Johnson.


“Stochastic glass is the term I use to describe my interest in chance operations in the creation of glass. From the Greek word for “random,” stochastic is a term most commonly used in mathematical probability theory, suggesting the deliberate incorporation of a random element into a set of known variables. The creation of art glass using Stochastic techniques depends upon the ability of the artist to respond to the combination of both unpredictable and known behaviors when molten glass is exposed to intense manipulation such as stretching, reheating, layering, cracking, and crimping.”

Tabletop Glass Blowing – Part I

•September 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been looking into small tabletop glass blowing equipment in order to do larger vessels, sculptures and paperweights in a shorter period of time. A tabletop glass blowing set up would be very useful considering the high cost of a full hot shop and the time it takes to work with large quantities of glass at the torch.

One choice for a small studio without investing in huge furnaces and all the other equipment needed to run a full scale hot shop is a Tabletop glory hole.

One choice for this is the Murphy Firebucket which is available at Fusion Headquarters.

For under $600 a small glass blowing setup similar to larger hot shops can be ready to go using purchased cullet or using an existing kiln for a crucible.

I have an old AIM kiln that is suitable for converting to a crucible. A crucible or a furnace is a vat that the clear or colored glass is heated till molten. Glass is dipped out of the crucible using a blowpipe or punty and brought out to a marver to shape and then is blown or shaped at a bench. I’m guessing with the purchase of additional tools, glass and a couple of crucibles for the old kiln my initial expenses would be appoximately $1000. According to their website, operating costs run less than $.25 per hour.

Since 1986, this tabletop glory hole has been used to make custom glass rods, millefiori, stringers, pattern bars, canes, twists, hollow tube beads, drip lines, and small blown objects such as rondels, perfume bottles and paper weights. Fusion Headquarters has modified the old burner system so the Murphy Bucket now fires hotter than before, reaching chamber temperatures in excess of 2200 degrees F. They have modified the tools so that they are much smaller than those used in typical hot shops.

The Murphy Fire Bucket comes with a shutoff valve, hose, regulator, punty rod, blow pipe, rod rest/wrapping form, long jaws, and safety glasses. Exterior dimensions: 16″ tall x 13″ wide x 8″ deep. Interior firing dimensions are 6″ x 6″ cylinder with a 5″ chamber opening so there are limitations of course on the size of pieces that could be made. For paperweights, small sculptures, bottles, glasses, etc this would be a really nice addition to a flameworking studio.

If you have worked on the Murphy Firebucket, or any tabletop glory hole for that mater, add a comment here. I would love to hear about your experience.

Coming soon: The Don McKinney Tabletop Glory Hole

2011 – 2012 Glass Class Schedule

•September 28, 2011 • 1 Comment

For those who are new to working with hot glass, our seasonal glass experiences are a perfect introduction to flameworking. If you have flameworking experience we will work with you at your level. Glass and Tools provided.

For more information or to register for a class click here.

All classes will be on Sunday unless otherwise noted and may be subject to change.
Class size is limited to 5.
For private lessons or questions please call 901-292-4866.

October 23, 1 – 4 PM
Seasonal Glass Experience
Fall Leaves and Halloween

November 27, 10 AM – 5 PM
Beginning Glass Bead Making

December 18th, 1 – 4 PM
Seasonal Glass Experience
Holiday Ornaments

January 29, 1 – 4 PM
Seasonal Glass Experience

February 26, 10 AM – 5 PM
Beginning Glass Bead Making

March 25
To Be Announced

April 22, 1 – 4 PM
Seasonal Glass Experience
Working with Recycled Glass

May 6, 1 – 4 PM
Seasonal Glass Experience

June 11 – 15, 9 AM to 3 PM
Playing with Fire Glass Camp

Tabletop Glassblowing

•August 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been thinking about small tabletop glassblowing setups lately. (Great, this is more ways to spend money!) As some of you know, glass blowing, flameworking, fusing or really any glass endeavor is an expensive proposition. In the near future I will be taking a look at these more economical mini glory holes and crucibles.

If you know of anyone who currently uses one of these setups, please comment here or message me on the GinkgoGlass Facebook page.

Fixing Mr. Bee

•June 14, 2011 • 2 Comments

A friend and fellow glass artist, Lisa Allen, asked me to fix a glass bee that had a broken antenna.  This bee belongs to her friend’s child, so it was a bit nervous making to attempt to weld the bits back together, especially since I am primarily a borosilicate girl.   Soft glass at the torch tends to make my knees quiver, and not in a good way.

Posting in the Glass Roots group on Facebook, I got many helpful answers from fellow artisans including Jenny Newtson of Trauman Art Glass, Michael Goodman and Michael Mangiafico (FIG).  Michael Mangiafico’s glass insects are startlingly realistic.  A couple of years ago I was in a class he taught at The Midwest Glass Experience in St. Louis, Missouri.  One of the interesting things I learned from him is how to treat soft glass in the flame like the Italians do.  The glass is not waved in an out of the flame to keep the whole piece warm, but is built from one end to the other, never going back to a previously worked area, thereby avoiding thermal shock.  I remember watching him construct a spider, working the piece much like borosilicate, but in a much gentler flame.  When he was finished, he sat the piece on the workbench without any cracking, to be annealed in the kiln later.  This was an eye-opener to me and made me think that I could actually work in soft glass if this was an alternative method to the frantic waving around to keep the whole piece warm.

I also got some help from a glassworker in Venice, Italy, the place I fell in love with glass at the age of 9.  Mauro Vianelli has been a flameworker for over 30 years and gave me some advice on flame chemistry and how to fix this bee.    Interestingly, he recommended a very soft propane rich flame, and inserting the broken tips directly into the blue candles about 5 to 7 mm from the torch head.

Unfortunately, I did not see his post until I had already fixed the piece in a needle flame and annealed it.

Here is a funny short video of the fix with a bit a drama when my boyfriend bumped into a tool and I thought the piece had cracked:

Next time, I will try it the Italian way.

This morning the bee is still intact and will be on it’s way to a happy child soon.

Thanks to all my glass friends who helped me.

I think a return trip to beautiful Venice is in my future.

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