Sunday, January 30, 2011

Attracted to the Flame - Part VII

OK, not the most glamorous shot for a blog - but hey - it's reality...

I know, I know, I'm late on getting this one posted after promising it a week ago. But as they say, better late than never. I don't know about you, but this winter has just sucked the very life out of me! I'm not very inspired at all. And the motivation level is very low. SUNSHINE - WHERE ART THOU??

OK, enough of my whining... I'd like to talk a little bit about my torch and the fuel for my lampwork setup. First, it's not a "torch" (although everyone refers to it as one); what I use is actually a "burner". I refer to it as a torch because that is the universal word for something that uses fuel that has a flame coming out of it. (If I said "burner", most people would think I was talking about a stove.) My burner is called a Minor Burner, and it uses a mixture of both oxygen and liquid propane ("LP").

When you first start out, most people use something called a Hot Head that uses something called "MAPP" gas, and there is just one tank and no mixing. It's absolutely great to start out on. But its limitations grow old on someone like me who just has to continue to spread her wings and fly...

To create more, add more fine detail, and keep your clear glass more clear (not sooty or cloudy), you need to use a hotter flame and a cleaner one. That usually requires adding oxygen. Using pressurized gases is hazardous, so my shop is in a separate building and not in my house. There's a line of oxygen and a line of LP that runs to the burner. I control the line pressure from the tanks with regulators (pictured). (I also control the amount of oxygen I want to mix in with my LP at the burner head in order to do different types of work.) Basically, from the tanks of oxygen and LP, I need a line pressure mix of roughly 5 to 1 oxygen to LP.

Once the two fuels do reach the head of the burner, I need to mix them by adjusting my fuel knobs to create three different types of flames (and a zillion variations of each of these from one type to the other): reducing, neutral, or oxidizing. The more oxygen you use, the closer to oxydizing you get - the more LP you use, the more reducing your flame becomes. Most work is done in a neutral flame. Confused yet?

I can make it simple...most work in neutral, clean and clear work in oxydizing, special effects in reducing. No, it's not that simple - but for the sake of your sanity, and my lack of writing skills, let's leave it at that.

Visit my Boutique Poladora, to see some of my work on my "burner"...

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