So at the Vegas expo, I was able to try out two different torches. Both torches use both Oxygen and Propane from cylinders. They were both so much better than the hothead… no more ‘dirty’ glass! Glass starting to discolor? Add more Oxygen! Easy 🙂 I loved it.
I preferred the Carlisle flame because the edges are ‘fluffier’, making it easier to keep the bead warm all over. If parts of the bead get too much cooler than other parts, the bead will crack or explode. That’s less fun than you might think. Hot glass shards in your lap can make you dance around like you are playing musical chairs by yourself!
So I bought one of the torches used for the class, and lovingly took it home to my back yard.
Then I had to consider glass rods and manufacturers… there are different COEs of glass (coefficient of expansion), and they are not compatible with each other. So I bought some of each, of course!!! In Vegas I had used COE 104 and COE 90. Each type has advantages… 104 has more colors available from multiple manufacturers, and it did seem like most lampworkers use 104. However, I enjoyed working with 90 better because it holds a shape better and doesn’t melt by accident as easily.
Then there is COE 96, the kind available locally from my supplier. That is the type of glass I first tried on the hothead, and its properties are between 90 and 104. The main drawback with the 96 is limited color options, at least at this point. You can buy sheets of colored glass and slice them into strips to use much like rod, but unless you run them through the kiln before using them, the edges are sharp. Nobody wants blood in their beads.
I can tell you with certainty that keeping three different COEs of glass in the studio at the same time is tricky… I decided to mark the different rods with colored labels. This worked perfectly… my labelmaker will print on pink labels for COE 104, blue labels for COE 96, and white labels for COE 90. And even better, I can tell the labelmaker to print the name or number of the color so each rod can be easily identified.