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Lampwork equipment safety maintenance.

The glass I've been making this week is work in progress, I've spent a little time experimenting with different colour mixes and figuring out some new techniques, they're not yet in a state to share. So here's my mundane, but essential, safety maintenance I attended to before experimenting.

A lampwork set up can be done very minimally, you can get a little bottle of map gas and a hot head torch to melt soft glass, you'll need a few other small tools, but for under £100 you could be making little beads, if you love that idea Tuffnell glass has a starter kit here.

But I warn you now, glass melting is a drug, and if you like it you'll be wanting more, and the more you want, the more expensive it gets!

If you want to sell your creations you'll need to anneal them to take the internal stresses out of the glass and make it safe for use, you can buy a small kiln for this, or Tuffnell glass, provides an annealing service. I'm not sponsored by Tufnells, they just happen to be one of the only places you can get lampwork materials and equipment in the UK, and luckily they're incredibly helpful and good.

So you've got your kiln, but you want to make something a little larger and the hot head just isn't doing it for you, time for a dual fuel torch, I started on a Nortel Minor, with a bottle of propane and a 5 litre oxygen concentrator, you're looking at £500 + unless you're lucky enough to find something secondhand near you. With all this melting it's important to get some good extraction for your work place, soft glass is a little safer than borosilicate glass, but there are still fumes released as the glass heats up, and you really don't want to breathe that in, did I also mention eye safety? Even using a hot head it's really important to wear specialist safety glasses.

I have a pea head and find the glasses I have a little uncomfortable for long stretches of time, they're made for bigger faces, but I still use protection, in the form of a shield to look through, oops a few more hundred pounds out of pocket! I also upgraded my torch and oxygen generator, but that's not really relevant.

I'm rambling, here's the real subject of this post, my various hoses have been deteriorating to the point of danger, both gas and ventilation.

My old broken extraction and gas hoses

I'll admit I'm a little embarrassed at the state of my tubes, and overall primitive nature of the set up, it's cost me a fortune, and works beautifully I assure you! The ventilation hose is great on the intake side, it needs to be flexible to position it over the torch, but rigid enough to hold it's position. The side to the left of my extraction fan needs to move more often, I have a little porthole in my shed, when I'm using my torch I open up the porthole and stuff the hose out to take away all the fumes, this side has started to split, it spent a few months bandaged up with clingfilm...

The gas hose, it's shameful, I needn't say more.

Back to Tuffnell Glass, they had a delivery of Effetre new crystal clear glass, the glass I like for implosions, so in my order I added gas and ventilation hose offcuts from their clearance page, plenty long enough for me and my weeny shedio.

New gas and ventilation hose

The Hose is more flexible than the one I replaced, and the gas tube isn't disintegrating, win win.

New hose fitted on a lampwork set up extraction fan.

Job one done, notice the high-tech towel stuffed around the hose to stop gusts of wind interrupting my torch flame. I intend to cut a disc of Perspex to size with a hole to fit the hose through which would give me a glimpse of the outside world while I work, but I've had clingfilm and duct tape holding everything together for months, so Perspex is a long way down the to do list!

On to the gas hose, this was a little trickier, the bottle end had a nice brass crimp, I don't have such things, and it turned out I didn't have anything suitable, but my dad did, not sure what I'd do without him, thank you Christopher for the essential perfectly size jubilee clip.

The torch end was a little more straight forward, although the hose seems to be 5 sizes smaller than the torch's fitting, so I let it sit in hot water for a few minutes to soften it up before connecting it, luckily I already had a clip for this side.

Expanding gas hose with hot water to fit on a lampwork torch.

And that's my slightly waffly, possibly a little boring, but fairly important lampwork equipment safety maintenance post.

I was listening to a lot of Esther Perel's podcast Where Should We Begin, while working this week, her mind is so impressive, I've enjoyed her work very much over the years.

The sun's been patchy, but enough to dry many meters of fabric I bought to make the small one a new summer wardrobe, she likes the tractors best.

Jersey knit fabric drying outside

Tiddly pom.

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