Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boro Recipe Book

I've started a project this week creating a boro recipe book for myself. Since I've gotten some new Glass Alchemy rod and frit I wanted to have a more concrete method of ensuring great results when I make beads with the new colors. The process starts relatively arbitrarily. I'll pick between one and three colors of rod, and one or two colors of frit. I'll make between one and three beads on a mandrel, all the same with one permutation of the rod and frit selection I've chosen. Once I finish with the bead I write down the process I used - how many wraps, if the wraps were the size I normally make them or not, if I added frit and when, whether I encased the bead, and if I applied any decoration to the surface. Then, I repeat the process with a different combination of rod and frit. After several sets, I select new frit and rods and continue.

Summer Sunrise

Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Temp: 1075°F

7mm Northstar Orange opaque rod
#70 Glass Alchemy Triple Passion frit
5mm Simax clear rod

Take the orange opaque rod and, pulling the gather thin, wrap around the mandrel twice. Melt smooth and, while hot, roll the base in frit. Melt the frit into the base, cool slightly, then encase with two wraps of clear.

In order to be efficient with my kiln time I spent two days making beads and cooling them in my fiber blanket so that I could batch anneal them, keeping my kiln at the garage temp (for working, cooler than the annealing temperature) while I made a final set of beads.

Out of this first attempt I got 35 different recipies. I would say about half are decidedly lackluster. Some of these were intentional. For example, I have some plain base-color beads and simple encased beads whose only purpose was to demonstrate whether there was a cracking risk. Some beads I thought would change color in the kiln more than they did, or the frit was too small to give a good visual field of the color. For other beads the color was too sparse. Some of the recipes are pretty good and bear repetition. Some can be repeated as they are and some need a little tweaking or suggest new frit and rod combinations. All in all, I'm excited with the beginning of this project.

The end goal is to pick out the stand-out recipies and be able to replicate them on demand. Having a consistent, quality line of borosilicate beads will help increase my reputation, repeat business, and thus, revenue. Also, with the accumulation of enough stand-out combinations, there will potentially be some demand to purchase the recipies by other lampworkers so they can begin to build consistency in their own commercial work; recipies being a benchmark from which you can examine how your torch skills compare and allow you to improve.

So, what is a great get-to-know-your-glass exercise for me in the present, could become avenue for revenue both in the intermediate future and long-term. Hopefully, I'll learn my lessons well enough to make the information available to others. Good for me, good for the world! :)