Fixing Mr. Bee

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.

~ by ginkgoglass on June 14, 2011.

2 Responses to “Fixing Mr. Bee”

  1. I have since found out that it is a girl bee named Eunice.

  2. “Fixing Mr. Bee Glassification” genuinely makes me imagine a little
    bit more. I cherished each and every particular part of it.
    Thanks for your effort ,Maddison

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