Tuesday, 19 January 2010

How Low Can I Go?

Occasionally I get asked if I can do something special or different in glass. Many are to revisit and remake old favourites, but some are for new twists on things I’ve already made. It’s always interesting to hear new ideas, and they often take me down paths I wouldn’t have expected to explore.

The ones that seem easy often turn out to be the most problematic! Recently I was asked if I could make a red flower in a marble. Now I don’t normally try to do specific flower, mine are more ‘impressions’ of a flower, but this seemed such a simple construction, I thought ‘No problem!’ How wrong I was!

After about the 9th marble, I finally got the shape to start working, about the 12th I think I pretty much nailed it. It just goes to show how Mother Nature is rather more clever than we think, and how complex simplicity is! I won’t tell you what the flower is, as this is for someone else’s special project. My next problem is trying to get the colour right, which again turns out harder than expected. I bought a sample pack of Northstar’s boro colours which I use as a palette of colours. There are about 110 or more colours, then added to that I have most of the TAG colours, some Northstar experimental colours, plus the odd bit of Borostik, Glass Alchemy and Momka colours! Basically anything I can get my hands on! Out off all these different makers and different reds I was surprised how so many of them turned the same dull colour in use. Further investigation found that I wasn’t the only one finding this, when thinned down all these opaque reds returned to a rather bland dull brick red. There are some rather sexy reds in transparent, but as yet I haven’t got them to work with an opaque base to make a good red. I shall persevere!

Then the other day I had a less promising question. Could I make vortex marbles smaller? About 9-14mm? I thought not, but tried anyway. Unsurprisingly the first attempts were blobs of glass that fell onto the pie tin I keep under my torch to catch wandering bits of hot glass. However I tried again the next day, running the torch at lower pressures, using the same techniques I’d use on a full sized one but with tiny 4mm glass rods. I was so surprised when it worked! I even managed to put some aventurine sparkles inside them, although they work quite well plain a this size too. The first one was about 15mm, but it didn’t take long to start getting them down to 10mm!

Having achieved what I set out to do, the obvious question popped into my head; how low could I go? I thought 9mm was as small as it could go before I started loosing the design. However I got one to 8.65mm (according to my digital callipers!) Then a touch under 8mm, then an insane one which should have been 6mm! I really hit the edge of what was possible with this one, I couldn’t get the bottom to polish off properly so it’s the only one with a ‘dented bottom!’ Also when I measured it I found it has squashed slightly where I’d held it in tweezers as I’d tried to finish it, so one side is 5.76mm the other is 6.06mm! The results are shown here, the 10.5mm green one is my favourite, although the photos don’t really do justice to them as my camera wasn’t happy with focusing this small either!
And yes, that is a 5p coin!!!

I will play with this some more soon, apart from my other half wanting a pair as ear studs, I want to see if I can do some of my other designs small to make a range of real glass micro-paperweights for Dolls houses. I need to clean up and simplify some of the designs first, but they are such fun to do I really can’t resist trying them out! I am hoping to get more workshop time soon, if I can do them without having to charge too much (it's quite labour intensive) then I will probably list them on Esty in the next few weeks.


  1. your work is AMAZING so you were among winners over at -


  2. Wow these are great. I had to get out a 5p to double check just how small they really are. Amazing!!

    What a great idea of the micro paperweights as well. Are they for sale yet? I hope to start some more experimenting myself soon with the silver and glass and they are a great size.

    I just need a few more hours in each day... :)

  3. ah, hours in the day! If you find some let me know, I keep loosing them somewhere!
    Yes, I will be listing them soon, probably on Etsy, I need to make some more first & batch anneal them - going to be a very empty looking kiln though! I'm amazed how many ideas people are having for these, even as ring stones!

    Thank you for the award Noodlebubble! Glad your OH liked the razor!