Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Razors, Marbles, and Beer

It's been an odd week, most of which I've spent trying to make as many razors as I can, only to run out of the heads! About ten minutes ago the postman turned up with some more (phew!) so I will get some more listed on Folksy soon! This had me going through my stash, and I am now reaching the end of the old two blade versions which aren't made anymore. I think I've got two more to list, then it'll be the end of a little era, and I'll only have the Mach3 heads which are a little more expensive. I still have a stash of shaving brushes, however they are limited in quantity too. I've found some replacements, but they don't have the nice silver finials and are a lot more expensive. At least I know have the firepower on my new torch that it's a little easier to make such large glass items, I just need to make them now!

After getting the new torch I realised I needed a bigger marble mould to help me when making marbles and cabochons. Almost everything I seem to do starts in some way as a marble, until reshaped or bits are added. In a fit of madness I ordered a new mould from USA, not realising how big it was! It's massive! The picture here shows it next to my original first graphite marble paddle, the largest hole on that is 25mm (1 inch) and this one has 6 holes on each side, going up to a whopping 1 3/4 inches! As only use the rim of the mould this (in theory) means I could make marbles up to 2inch or more although I've not managed to do anything bigger than 40mm yet that stayed in once piece!

Our local pub closed recently, only to reopen a week later under new management. It's good that it's still going, but the changes aren't good for us as my other half has lost her part time work there as barmaid. I am not sure how old the pub is but it's listed in 1841 census, but I don't know how much further it's history goes back. It's a real old world place, there are pictures in there from around 1900-1910 (at a guess looking at the outfits) when it was much smaller and next to what looks like a dirt track! We did manage to obtain a 'little' something from the landlady as she was clearing out. New pumps were put in a while back, and these older pumps are good solid brass (I guess they're 20 years old or more), rather than their new faux-brass replacements. There is talk when we eventually move of building a home mini-bar one day, and this will certainly help put Del-Boy Trotters home bar to shame! For now though, it will go into the loft until we decide when and where that will happen. It does give me time to find some more horse brasses and old beer pump badges to go with it though!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Random Hord of Metalwork

I guess it's not surprising that I own a few quite random things. Anything usual being sold or thrown away I do tend to pounce on, as well as hording all sorts of junk. W keep talking about clearing out the loft again, but neither of us can really face that mammoth task! Last time we got a quarter of the way in there before retreating with two car loads of boot fair and charity boxes!

Clearing out the workshop I came across these two moulds I bought years ago at a flea market. I've already posed the question 'what are they' over on Frit Happens forum; although the wise heads and glass addicts there were equally unsure, they all agreed they were excellent things to have! Best guess at the moment is they are injection moulding casts, the material seems to be a copper/copper alloy/bronze, and apparently a beryl-copper alloy is used in some injection moulding machines, plus the sprue hole seems very narrow for normal pouring of casting liquids.

The only thing I really am not sure of is what the resultant 'things' were for. One is bottle shaped, the other is column shaped, and both seem to have slightly textured flat backs which I guess are to glue onto something else. If anyone know please tell me, as I'd love to know!

We did also 'aquire' for a very reasonable sum a very grand bit of brassware this week, but I'll share some pictures of that next time, when hopefully I figured out what to do with it!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Return of the Razors!

Yes, razors are back!

One big problem I've had with making the razors I was selling in my Folksy shop last year was that the heads were no longer being made. Luckily I have a few squirreled away, although once these double blade ones are gone, they'll be gone for good!

Fortunately, I have managed to track down a source of new heads, and they take the Mach3 triple blades which I had lots of people asking about last year. They aren't quite as 'Edwardian' looking as the old type, and quite a bit more expensive, but it does mean I can continue to make them!

One problem I'd forgotten about (probably deliberately!) was the amount of rejects that I end up with. Making such long handles introduces alot of stress in the glass. Normally this isn't a problem as a good long soak in the kiln will anneal out these stresses. However on such long ones as this by the time I've finished working on the far end the other end has cooled too much and starts to crack! Even trying to keep it warm doesn't help, in fact it often makes it much worse, I even find that putting it into a warm kiln brings the temperature of the 'cold' end up too quickly and causes it to crack! Argh!

While trying to work around this I've been experimenting with making the entire handle solid glass. This makes, to my mind, much more pleasing and organic shapes with the light going straight through the handles allowing me to do much more exciting things with the colours and designs. Also as there is less metal work it makes the heads for it cost a little less too so I can do them a bit cheaper than the other Mach3 types! I really find this type exciting and want to do many more of these solid glass handles, I've only listed one so far but I have ideas for so many more

I have also found out the Venus Ladies blades fit these new heads too, so if I can get the pink boro to behave and not boil and bubble and go a horrible colour then I'll try making some Ladies razors too! Watch this space!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


My New GTT 'Lynx'!!!

Much excitement here as I have a new torch! Although calling it a 'torch' seems a little tame, flamethrower would be much more apt description!

My current 'old faithful' minor has served me very well, but I've been itching to work on larger pieces for quite a while, the lack of heat also makes it slower too, and I've been unable to make any marbles above 36mm - and that really is pushing it past it's limit.

For a while I've had my eye on a GTT Lynx, which I finally took a deep breath and ordered. In preparation I decided to spend the weekend tidying the workshop, which ended up being a bit more of a dramatic move than I planned involving moving the extractor system to give me more elbow room.

I've not had a real chance to play with it yet, although I did sneak in a quick hour to see what it could do - it's going to take a little getting used to! I managed to make a flower marble, just under 31mm, so that's a good start, although I seemed to get a lot more grot on the glass than I expected. I am hoping it's just the move and the shake up of the propane tank, as that tends to be where any dirt tends to come from. Hopefully now I can get stuck in and get those razors and shaving brushes made now I have the firepower to deal with them! I think there will be some loud music played this weekend as accompaniment to the soundtrack of a fierce flame and intense glass melting!

Here's a quick couple of pictures of the workshop before it gets untidy (it really doesn't take long!) Under the desk at the left is a bulk glass storage rack, can you believe this was all the room I used to have for my legs? No wonder I used to get cramp after a long session!

Monday, 4 October 2010

And the Winners are......

It seems like an age ago that I annouced that when I reached the magic 50 sales on Folksy I would do a little give away! Well, today a few little packages went out as a thank you for suporting my shop. I'd have loved to send something to everyone who bought from me, and favoured my shop! Instead I picked out of a hat (well, ok, not a real hat but a random number generator!) firstly Terry from http://www.folksy.com/shops/EdieOhara (lovely neck warmers in silks, wools and cottons, ideal for these colder morning!) as one of the many people who have favourited my shop.

Second up was the fabulously named Treaclezoo http://www.folksy.com/shops/treaclezoo who makes such fun crocheted things - they do look good enough to eat - who has been one of the many kind people who've bought from me on Folksy.

Hopefully I'll get to 100 sales on Folksy to do another giveaway with more prizes!

I've not managed to do much this week as I spent alot of time moving around the workshop, making more desk space so I can find what I'm looking for! Of course these things don't go to plan, so it took more time than expected, but the results have come up better than I expected, and now have a nice 'U' shaped workspace with the kiln back in easy reach - much safer than having to wander around with hot marbles. The worst part was having to move the extractor fan, only to knock it back down trying to get the benches back in! Doh! At least now I might not hit the wall with the end of long rods which was happening where I had it before. Above is a picture of the 'old' workshop, I'll try and get some new pictures taken before I make it too untidy!