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Furnace Vs. Lamp?


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The brighter light on Boro glass has splashed a lot more light on soft glass, too... Especially in torch / lamp / flame work...

For the longest time, glass art that wasn't done in a furnace was sort've considered "less important" in the art glass arena... even though most of the finest detail done in glass, has always been done on a bench, I don't think the majority of people realized it... The focus has always been on "The Glassblower."

What is made in a furnace?

As far as I knew until Kevin and then Sue said some people look down on torchwork, torchwork was where it was at. Now I hear some people think it isn't. What do those people make?

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They make art glass.

Torch (lamp) workers are restricted to size due to the amount of heat they can apply to the glass at one time.

Unless you cross fire multiple torches, or have several people all fanning torches back and forth on a piece to keep it all virtually the same temperature ( to stop fracturing) you are restricted to how much glass you can keep at the same temperature.

Thats a fairly small piece, especially in comparison to the glass houses or hot shops where they can make pieces (typically out of soft glass) in to HUGE art glass pieces.

The folks who work the hot shops can make vases 3, 4, even 5 feet tall. A torch worker "might" get one up to 15 to 18 inches if they have a huge torch and lots of help.

There are a lot of variables and the numbers I am throwing out are typical numbers. Not to be misconstrued with absolutes. Plenty of folks push the envelope (so to speak) and have passed these numbers BY FAR. However, "TYPICALLY" the torch workers just can not get up to the size being done with a tank, glory hole and 6 foot punty's.

The off hand (or cane style marble makers) tend to look on the torch folks as less than them (here again NOT always, but TYPICALLY) I think mainly due to the less size they get. Where as the torch workers look at the off hand guys and think, TECHNICALLY, they can beat them virtually everytime, and, in my humble opinion, the torch workers are correct.

There's no way someone working at 6 feet can get the same detail, or even CLOSE to the same detail as someone working at 6 inches..

Its akin to working with a pencil tipped paint brush as oppossed to a sprayer. Both get the paint job done. One very quick with masive coverage, the other with precision detailed work.

BOTH have their places. BOTH make EXTRODINARY pieces of glass.

Although they appear the same, they are FAR from being the same.

The ONLY sameness is the medium being used.

HOT GLASS

(end of hot glass 101. LOL!!!)

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Bo should be a teacher!(LOL) All his points are well made although I must say I have personally met many of the finest marble makers in the world(not torchworkers IMHO) and never have heard any of them put down a fellow glass worker(torchworkers included) in any way what so ever. And I find the detail in many furnace made mibs( like Marks or Ro's) way beyond most torch worked mibs. IMHO. Peace,Galen

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Bo should be a teacher!(LOL) All his points are well made although I must say I have personally met many of the finest marble makers in the world(not torchworkers IMHO) and never have heard any of them put down a fellow glass worker(torchworkers included) in any way what so ever. And I find the detail in many furnace made mibs( like Marks or Ro's) way beyond most torch worked mibs. IMHO. Peace,Galen

I think that everyone is right here lol. The top marble makers are simply confident in their work so why would they put someone- anyone- down for doing something different? It's just like in life in general- when someone is putting someone else down, it's because they feel threatened, not because anyone is better or worse, right or wrong.

Anyone who is successful and confident in any field understands that.

Confident people compliment other's on their work or give constructive criticism- putting someone down is simply a desperate attempt to hold someone else back so they don't "win".... it's all a mindset that has zero to do with whether something is made on a torch or in a furnace. It's a matter of psychology, not technique!

And on the detail thing... the furnace workers who do indeed put tons of detail in their marbles- like Ro- are simply above and beyond the "typical" marble makers (as Bo emphasized). In general, it's "easier" to put more detail into a piece via a torch then via a furnace. It's those who rise above the "norm" who are challenging the status quo and pushing the envelope that don't fit into the "in general" category. Ro's marbles are FULL of detail- and it has more to do with the human element; his intention, skill, and vision, it has less to do with the techniques and equipment available... it's not absolute- it's definitely relative. Glass Kitchen's marbles are a great example of how torch work can bring about such an amazing level of detail you can't believe it's really glass! I challenge any furnace worker to duplicate what Chris/ Lisa do on their torches.... it's just not practical and that's why they use torches instead of a furnace for what they do. Doesn't mean it can't be done though...

I use a torch and I make marbles that don't have tons of detail- I also make marbles that do have tons of detail. It's all relative and depends on what the artist is trying to achieve mixed with the artist's level of skill and understanding of the practicality of the techniques available that can be used to achieve the goal.

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Thanks Kevin for the Glass Kitchen lead. But ... at the risk of hijacking my own thread ... LOL @ the Gen. Westmoreland marble! Why Gen. Westmoreland?!!!!

No, that's a rhetorical question. But ... why?! ROFL!

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Ohh, you had to see the marble that Chris made for my Basset Hound rescue money drive I did a few years ago. I still kick myself for not buying that one.

Though I think the feelings have changed in the past few years, one of the reasons furnace workers looked down on torch workers was the belief that they were all just pipe makers. After looking at what some of these glass workers can do, I wish I was a pipe maker (LOL).

Lou

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I've attended every Wheaton Marble Weekend and I don't think I've ever heard a word about which is "better" torch or furnace, there...

But, when contemporary marbles were first hitting the scene, I did hear collectors mentioning that furnace marbles "should be" more expensive than flame worked... That goes back a lot farther than pipes...

As I remember it, it had more to do with the investment in equipment... Doing a torch set-up is far less costly than a furnace... It's portable and a lot of people have been able to work torch glass as a "hobby."

Whereas, working a furnace is very costly and not portable at all... It takes a "dive in" commitment, unless you can get lucky and work with someone who is established.... The primary reason that Bill Murray isn't making marbles now is, the guy whose furnace he used decided it wasn't cost effective to keep it running and shut it down.... Bill doesn't have the ability with time or space to create one of his own... I'm hoping someday we can get him back!!

Looking at the early marbles, size and appearance was a big deal. Furnace marbles simply looked bigger, better and more professional. The guys who were making furnace marbles had been working glass for a long time. It took torch work a while to catch up. But, when it did, it caught up with a vengeance!!! Soft glass torch workers were taking huge steps... Then, the pipemakers stepped in with Boro and blew open a whole new door!! Now, when considering the cost of a marble, I don't think the medium of how it's made is taken into as much consideration, as the beauty, artistry and craftsmanship. Which is as it should be!! ;)

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SIZE MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU START TRYING TO BALANCE A 2 INCH+ MARBLE OF SOFT GLASS (IO4 COE) VS. A BATCH OR FURNACE GLASS MARBLE THE SAME SIZE OF 90COE , WHICH IS MUCH STIFFER AND EASIER TO CONTROL EVEN UP TO 5 OR 6 INCHES THE THING IS THE LUCKY GUY WHO HAS A FURNACE AND GLORY HOLE ALL HE NEEDS TO DO IS DIP INTO HIS MOLTEN GLASS TO ADD SIZE AS A LAMPWORKER MUST MELT LAYER AFTER LAYER TAKING HOURS SOMETIMES WHERE AS A FURNACE WORKER TAKES A COUPLE DIPPS INTO THE HOT GLASS AND HAS THE SIZE IN A FEW MINS... MAYBE SOMEDAY I DREAM OF HAVING A NICE FURNACE SET UP, MAN O MAN WHAT TIME IT WOULD SAVE

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Boy, great topic, great information. I just buy 'em; haven't yet seen any made at all. I think that Sue is right, method and medium take a back seat to beauty for me. That said, I have spent time with Ro Purser at the last two IAMC shows and what he puts into his marbles is beyond anything one can imagine. He transcends technique, and true art is the result.

Roger

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