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I am using my Studio page to share a few of my opinions on my favorite tools and suppliers.
Most of these will be taken from my blog. So scoot on over there scroll down a bit on the left side and follow me and/or subscribe to my posts.

Torch

My most valued tool outside of my own imagination is, of course, my torch. I use a Carlisle Mini CC. I purchased my Mini CC from ArrowSprings

I've found that ArrowSprings has one of the best selections and reasonable prices of glass and supplies. And on the phone they are very knowledgable and extremely helpful if you have a problem. But their online order services are less than stellar. Many times I've placed an order online, then, thinking it should be arriving any time, I get a phone call that they are out of an item. Now I can understand running out but it takes them several days to get back to you about it. Once it was more than a week later before I got the call. So, if you are in a hurry either place your order by phone or go elsewhere. *

Another little note about my torch - When I started teaching flameworking at NOCGI I had a bit of discombobulation because the Mini CC's they use are a newer version than mine and the control knobs for gas and oxy are reversed. It takes a little getting used to when I first sit down to one of NOCGI's torches but when I think about it the change is definately for best since I am right handed. However, it's not enough for me to want to give my baby up.

I wanted to note here that I LOVE my torch. I don't have a lot to compare to other than a few short sessions on a very old Nortel Minor and of course my beginner's hothead (which I still have).

I had a few problems with my Mini CC in the beginning - but most of those were due to my own inexperience. Now that I have become familiar with the settings on the regulator and keeping the nozzle clean with piano wire the flame on my torch is perfect.

What I truly love about my Mini CC is that I can turn up the heat and work hot and fast and even work boro glass (although I rarely do) and I can still turn the flame down to a pinpoint to work fine detail on a sculptural piece. If you ask me if I would buy another Mini CC I would say unequivicably: YES.

I've seen others write that the Mini CC's main drawback is the fact that the body gets quite hot after a short time. I don't really view this as a drawback. I have a torch-mounted marver on my torch and the heat there is very handy for keeping pieces of glass warm for attaching.

 

I'd love to hear what others have to say about this wonderful little torch so please leave a comment and let us all know what you think.

I think I will discuss my oxygen concentrator next unless I get a request.

Note July 1, 2011 - Since writing this GTT has developed The Crickett torch. Ever since I heard about it I have wanted one. They developed the Crickett specifically to run with an oxygen concentrator.


Oxygen Concentrator

After my torch I have to say my favorite tool has got to be my oxygen concentrator from Pyronamix. Going from lugging those heavy tanks around to just flicking a switch is like going from a well to indoor plumbing. I'm also surprised at how much more expensive tanks are, not to mention much more dangerous.
The one I have now is my second oxycon. My first was from ArrowSprings * . It lasted just past it's warranty and died. I was quite happy with it while it lasted. It didn't quite have the oomph that I'd been used to with my tanks but I thought that was my lot in tankless life. *sigh* Little did I know that my flame was about to get a lot happier!
After the first one died, I did my research and found Kimberly of Pyronamix to be very helpful. She really went out of her way to help and advise me. I highly recommend doing business with her.
It seems not all oxycons and torches work the same together. Some torches need more volume and some more pressure. While some concentrators deliver more oxygen and some more pressure.
I've had my Devilbiss (5LPM @ 8.5 psi) for just a little less than a year now and the honeymoon is not over yet. I really can get a big hot bushy flame or a tiny concentrated pinpoint flame as I need them. And I am everlastingly grateful for not having to lug those monster tanks to that hateful welding supply way out of the way. (There's a story/rant there for another day)
If you are tired of lugging those old oxygen tanks around and are in the market for an oxygen concentrator, please call Kimberly of Pyronamix and tell her what kind of torch you have, how you use it and what glass you use, and she will tell you which model is best for you. Please be sure to tell her DebiDeaux sent you.
When you get your new oxycon be sure to keep your filter maintained. I'm on my way to clean mine now...

* If it sounds like I'm down on ArrowSprings, I'm not. I shop with them quite often and am very happy to do so.


Etching Glass Beads

Help! I'm becoming addicted to etching... just kidding. But seriously the effect of etching on transparent glass beads is sooo luminescent.
I'm a big fan of transparent glass. I choose transparent over opaque all the time. With etching, the transparent glass loses some of it's transparency but gains a wonderful glowing luminosity. I looks like it's glowing from within.

From upper left: green, aqua and lavender hollows, 2 twister beads, dichro heart, center: 2 encased beads.

Since I know I'll be asked - I use Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream. I can't really say I recommend it over any other brand because I've never used (or even found in the stores) any other brand.
The directions on the bottle are given for etching with a stencil. I use an etching dedicated plastic container and old beat-up paint brush. I place all the pieces I want to etch in the container and cover them with the etching cream using the brush to get into all the little nooks and crannies. I then let it sit for a few minutes (sometimes 10 sometimes 30 depends on my attention span). I then come back to it and using the old paint brush, I move the beads around in the cream and turn them over and spread the cream around. Then I let them sit for a while again. I then use my old paint brush to remove and save as much of the etching cream as possible. I just put it all back into the bottle. Yup, you can reuse the etching cream. Yay! That's a good thing cuz this stuff is not cheap. After I have reclaimed as much of the cream as I can I put on my plastic gloves and clean my beads in running water. I sometimes take an old toothbrush to the ones with lots of nooks and crannies and once in a while I just let them soak for a while after rinsing then scrub and rinse again. Then dry and admire the glow. Oh, one note about drying - while your beads are wet they will look shiny and not like they are etched. So wait until they are completely dry before taking stock of your beautiful work.

This was taken from my blog post of June 11, 2009.


Next is my Paragon Caldera kiln. The people at Paragon are unbelievably knowledgable about their products. They seem to know what my problem is before I even call. I know that sounds like I have a lot of breakdowns but I don't really.

Where do I buy my glass? Well, it really depends on what I need, want, can afford, and more.
*My favorite glass vendor is LB Supply. Jon Hunt, the owner, seems to get my order to me before I can log off my computer. I am constantly amazed at how fast he gets his shipments out. And his selection is getting bigger and better all the time. It won't be long before I won't need to go anywhere else for glass, but then what's the fun in that?*
*Since I wrote this review of LB Supply the owners have had to close up shop. They were suppose to reopen under a new name but I never heard from them again. If anyone hears from them I'd like to know.

I now get my new glass orders from Frantz Art Glass. Good prices, fast and reasonably priced shipping and most important - the BEST selection.

...more to come later...

 

My Studio

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DebiDeaux at Work

 

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Last updated on January 1, 2013