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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tumbling on..and on.......and on a bit more!

I thought I would update on the progress of my tumble polishing experiment. You might remember that I was flat-lap impaired (a flat lap is a flat polishing machine that uses a largish rotating disc and you polish down against it) and decided to use some of the equipment on hand - specifically, my handy dandy you beauty rock tumbler!!!

First off I put some rough sliced discs of glass murrini into the tumbler with some 80 grit which is quite rough and really ground down the edges nicely over about seven days of tumbling. One thing to note is that rather than using the little plastic bead tumbling medium I used some home-made heavy leather offcuts my dad had cut up for me and it worked a real treat and was far better for tumbling the glass with. I then moved across to some 120 grit and after about four days moved across to 250grit which is quite fine and used for pre-polishing. Now I have bunged the first lot into the cerium polish and hopefully that will finish them off to a high polish and I can use them as they are for making some jewellery using PMC or can preheat in the kiln and insert them into a lampwork piece without having to worry about a huge volume of scum caused by a rough surface.

Here is a pic of a couple pieces just before I put them into the cerium for polishing. I am a bit worried about how the polishing will go as I am told that Cerium really needs friction and warmth to work properly. If the tumble polishing doesn't work I have bought myself a set of polishing bits for my dremel and will do some by hand..... may have to try that just to see the difference anyway ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Glasschallenge entry & boro love

Hmmmmm, well here I am back again! I thought I should take a small break from bending your ears about making murrini again (even though I am half way through making some boro butterflies :-) and tell you about my latest project continuing on from the glass chain on the post below.

The glass chain came about when I was trying to think of something new and different for the Glasschallenge sponsored this time by Mountain Glass Arts in the US. I decided that I wanted to make something out of boro given that I am booked to do a course with Alan Usher a talented local artist here In Australia in September and hadn't touched my boro stash for a while! After I made the glass chain I kept looking at it and in my usual way tried to think of ways to apply murrini to it..... I considered:
Sticking murrini to the links randomly, Make separate connectors for each link with a murrini in each one, encase murrini into the glass rods before making into the links, dangle a murrini off a hanging bar on one side of each link or......voila! Make a barbell shape with murrini in the ends at the right diameter that it moved around but cannot come off the chain!
Here is the result. My first try was using some home made silver glass boro murrini I had made a while ago and it turned out great. It was a reasonably difficult job juggling the weight of the chain and the barbells whilst using a cold attached punti to insert each barbell before making the second large end and also manage to avoid reflected heat onto the previously worked and cooled links etc.

I ended up spending about two days on each of these necklaces. The blue one I did first and then thought I would tart up the amber chain with some momka sunflower cane used as murrini. Here's a bit of a closeup. They have a lot of movement and make a lovely "tinkle" when you wear them, but they are a trifle heavy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chain me to my torch please!

Well, first off, for those who are following my murrini making adventures, I have made some orange/yellow monarch butterfly murrini which (as I was warned) do have a bit of a tendency to crack. I have got a pic of the two halves just before I put them together and it worked rather well, but unless I pull it into fairly small diameter it is to be honest a bit of a poop for developing fine cracks inside the cane..... bloody yellows!!!!

I also thought I might go the whole hog and use yellow to make some fish scale murrini. First I made the single scale which I cut into 4 and put them together (a bit like a jigsaw) and then I pulled that cane and cut it into 4 until I now have 16 scales in a cane ready to be constructed into a complex fish. I have made some really cool fin material, but haven't done the face yet so I will have to get my finger out this week and get that face done. I am going to try to do a 3D pull on it, but are not attempting a real fish pattern or anything. Here's the pic just before the last pull, it turned out fabbo!

My rock tumbler is still going strong, I have found that if I throw my rough sawn glass discs into the barrel with some cut up leather they work really well. I have finished the 80 grit cycle which took about a week and very nicely rounded off the edges, but took a bit of work to grind the flat sides of the big discs...... I am sure that is just pure physics, but interesting at any rate as it signifcantly prolonged the tumbling time and if you had murrini without clear around the edge you could be in trouble if the pattern went right to the edge. I have my 160 grit out and moved most of the glass across to that barrel (thank goodness I have two barrelled tumbler.... thanks Lortone). I am going to slice up some more and sort of cycle the glass through my four barrels finishing off with the Cerium Oxide for really give me some shine.... I hope so!!!!

Here's my latest experiment. I have seen loads of different types of lampwork chain on the net (mostly in the US) and thought I might give it a try out. Here is my very first effort using some boro (because it is so forgiving at being reintroduced to the heat etc.) It is not as easy as it looks as a matter of fact - trying to keep the links small, neat and "round" was quite the challenge.......I cheated by using a large piece of stainless pipe and wrapped them around that to give me the base size and half of the shape and it made life a hell of a lot easier. I had some fun working out how I would make my clasp out of the glass and settled for a hook at one end. I am currently working on some glass chain with "extra stuff" that I am thinking might be good and unique for some gallery work I have been asked about! It of course involves chain and murrini!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Out of the kiln, through the saw and voila..... murrini!

I am so pleased to say that my final murrini pull on a couple of my recent sojourn's into the complex murrini world came out of the kiln this arvo....... thank the murrini gods (most likely Loren Stump) THEY WORKED!!!!! (insert lots of jumping about in relief here).

The butterfly cane is a graduated pink one (although the pic is a bit crappy) and one thing I was a bit annoyed about is the scummy clear. I know that if I want a perfect butterfly in crystal clear then I have to peel the rods but I just couldn't face all that peeling!!!!! I sawed up some slices and have them in the tumbler as we speak - I was going to have the tumbler going over the last few days, but if you don't fill it enough the contents just swoosh around one side..... now it is "fully loaded" and off and running. I hope it doesn't take as long as rocks do to smooth off though!!!

After my rather boxy attempt at a complex leaf cane I am very pleased with the second attempt sawn this arvo. I decided that I would serrate the leaves on this one and I think they look a bit more realistic that way (but a wee bit of a poop to heat prior to pulling to keep the serrations actually there) I am particularly happy with this cane, because even though Loren gave us the basics, I have done the veins in this way which was my own idea - I am hoping he would be proud of me! I was very happy with the graduated transparent green moving to the darker side in the middle of the leaf and using the Grass green opaque was a nicer colour effect too I reckon. I have sliced some leaves up and have got them in the tumbler as well, but thought I might slice some really thin ones and some of the dodgy ends of the pull, preheat in the kiln and try applying to the outside of a soft glass marble..... there's not much point in making all these murrini if I am not going to use the buggers!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mama's got her new lapidary blade and she working it!

Back again so soon and EXCITED! I actually got some more use out of the wet tile saw this morning and I am very happy with the results! I left the evidence on the tray so you can all see I did use it.....
First off, I had all sorts of strife getting the arbor size right on this thing, Leo bought me a lovely new saw for my birthday which I then rudely took it back and swapped believing the info on the internet that the Ryobi one had a 5/8" arbor which would nicely fit the most common sized lapidary blade (arbor is that hole in the middle of the blade)...... nope, it did NOT!!! Unfortunately Bunnings only stocks saws that have 7/8" (or 22.2mm) arbors so then I had to find a solution - I did not want to take this saw back as well it was driving me NUTS! Fortunately for me after some hunting about I found a lapidary supply place that had 1" arbor with a bush to suit the 22.2mm in 7" actually made to suit wet tile saws....... and the love story begins!!!

Knowing that I was sorting out the saw situation I started making myself some murrini components over the past few days and here they are all sawed up and ready to use. I finished the top half of a butterfly's wing last night (out of the kiln this morn) and made the leaf cane which is mostly graduated transparent green with opaque pistachio coloured veining yesterday too. The fish scale cane I made last week and I am really keen to try putting them together like Loren Stump does his fish scale cane..... hopefully I won't bugger it up!

I have been giving some thought to how I will be able to deal with the polishing issue and think I might have a plan of action - its not perfect, but hopefully it will work with some patience. I am going to slice up quite a lot of the large cane slices and pop them into my old rock tumbler with loads of little bits of cut up leather (a trick my Dad taught me when we into fossicking and tumbling our stones) starting with a medium grit and moving to fine at which time I will use my dremel with a polishing pad attachment and some cerium to finish off. The only big pain in the arse is the wait for the tumbler, but I reckon because it is glass and not rocks it will not take weeks, maybe just a day or two for each step. The added advantage of this option is that even the edges will come out lovely and smooth and polished too which makes using them even more fun. Here's is my old Lortone rock tumbler (double barrelled!) hunted out of the back of the shed by my darling Leo again - I will have to give it a clean up, but then I will load er up today and I will see how we fare. I thought I had better make the slices on the thicker side rather than the really thin ones seeing as they will be bumping together somewhat!

What am I going to do with these polished slices you might ask? I am thinking that if I preheat them I can apply them to the surface of a bead or pendant, I could drill a small hole in the top and use that to hang off some chain or earrings or even ask a friendly silversmith to bezel them up with a bail for a pendant on a necklace....... it will be interesting to see where this takes me!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Here's the paperweight!!!

I thought I might as well load up a pic of the paperweight I made on my Loren Stump level 2 course.
First off we made the butterfly murrini by choosing the colours we liked and making the lobes which are then constructed into the top and bottom wing. Here's a pic of the half a butterfly slice before I put the two halves together. I have to admit that mine was a bit dodgy compared to some of the gorgeous work which was partly because I had made my lobes too fat and then had to squish them a lot which distorted the ends of the coloured lobes. I also managed to pull my murrini a bit smaller than I should have in the final pull and therefore ended up with a fairly small butterfly. Good thing is that I have another set of halves ready to put together and pull again if I want. I have also come home and practiced a little and have made myself the top wing tonight and will do the bottom wing tomorrow then put together and see how we go.
I am LOVING the saw n0w I have my new lapidary blade set up and it is making the complex murrini making a real joy. I am going to break out the tumbler with some small bits of leather to try polishing the slices in there seeing as I don't have a flat-lap and don't really want to go to the expense of getting one in the near future.
I made myself a complex leaf cane which I have left at a reasonably large diameter today which is sitting in the kiln as I type....hhhmmmm, I am thinking slicing polishing then drilling a top hole and installing on a necklace should be fairly cool - very time consuming, but cool nonetheless!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Post Loren Stump course Murrini Frenzy begins!

Well, for those in know I was at a level 2 Loren Stump glassworking course down in Adelaide last month quickly followed by being a Technical Assistant for his Level 1 course in Sydney...... what a blast.

For those plebs who have never heard of Loren Stump, he is (to put it plainly) a great big whopping glass legend!!! Loren does absolutely amazing things with glass that everyone had agreed were impossible. Loren's murrini skillz are out of this world, when I say I am praying to the murrini gods.... well that is actually Loren I am talking about. He has even replicated great works of art into tiny glassy slices that are mindblowing. Loren is a top bloke and rather down to earth - almost on the bogan side really, but he is a fabulous teacher who holds nothing back at all!

Last year I did the level one course and came back to a real funk, it seemed that now I had been educated in what to aim for, everything I had made earlier was fairly crappy to my own eyes and I really avoided melting glass in the fear that more crap was going to be produced. Eventually I did get myself out of this funk, but have been determined not to give into the mind games with myself this time and therefore have gone out and melted glass already!

Leo (beaut husband of mine) got me a wet saw for my birthday and this definitely opens up loads of new opportunities as far as my murrini making goes. Being able to work using larger diameter componentry will make life much easier and whilst waiting for my new lapidary blade to arrive I have been making component cane for butterfly (lobes of the wings in graduated colour) and fish (graduated scales).

When I get my blade and do some slicing and dicing I will be back to show some of it off!

In meantime, keep your torches hot!


ps. new logo for the business!!