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Art Freas 05-02-2018 02:42 PM

Cristalica Questions
Looking for some info on Cristalica

How many types of cristalica are available in the US? Is it just the 100 Studio Glass (that behaves much like the original system 96 from my understanding) or is there another version that is more like the SP or Premium 2.0.

Looking at the technical writeup they have you load the crucible up the sides not in the center, I was taught to load in the center so cold glass doesn't touch the crucible.

Again looking at their technical sheet they are saying to batch once a day, does that make sense?

Just want to get ahead of this as I am making the change over from new System 96 soon.

Pete VanderLaan 05-02-2018 04:17 PM

well, this is like Henry Ford's car color choice. "Any color you like as long as it's black"

There is one Cristalica. It does not do well being put in a crucible that has contained anything else. SP 87 is the batch of choice. Suck it up. About every ten years, I'm reminded of why I make my own glass. As I said, I continue to think the crisis will really begin in May... Oh look a squirrel!

I'm sort of out there in no patience land. No one makes their clear, no one makes their color. The furnace is just bought at incredible prices. Karl Platt used to say that they want their glass to come out of a toothpaste tube.

In 1968 we fought every day to be allowed to just do this. Go look at Henry's video and look at the fire in those Penland guys. It was a great time to be in the arts. Every day you learned something new and could not wait to tell your friends- (a serious mistake I might add.)

My Nick Labino book arrived today. Not very good at all but it gave some great overviews of the history of Glass which I genuinely believe people should know. It has an innocence to it that I love and I'm very glad to have it in the library.I'm actually really sad that Tom is selling his books. It's depressing. Here? we're starting to raise Bees. There will be fish in the pond soon and MB is ordering chickens! Eric is building tools in the studio and learning like a Hoover Vacuum. We have zero pumpkins on the racks.

Art Freas 05-02-2018 07:01 PM

Still curious about the other questions. I asked the question about two kinds because I saw a shop say they were changing to "Premium Cristalica Glass" Wasn't sure if that was the shop marketing or a new kind of Cristalica.

I get the melting SP87, I might even do it if my shop were bigger and not where it is. I get the studio arts movement back when everybody walked up hill both ways from work, but the reality, the harsh reality for me right now is that the business model where I am just doesn't work for that. You have no idea how much I would like to make my own base and color. While I am a software engineer in my other life I started my education in chemistry. If I won the lottery I would try to buy the Zimmerman formulas and make them myself as a starting point. But alas, the real world intrudes on my dreams.

I just need to do the best I can with the switch over and some information would help that. Then I can move on to taking a coldworking or a welding class.

Tom Fuhrman 05-02-2018 08:01 PM

Times have changed in many ways since those early days at Penland. In those days everyone was lucky if they owned a car or van that would make it down the road over 100 miles. Everyone had all their clothes in a small suitcase. They just wanted to make glass and have fun. No one knew what a business plan was. If they could find a place to put their sleeping bag that was warm and dry, that was all that matters for creature comforts. They were all younger and no one worried about health insurance. They had no idea what an IRA and a 401K were. The world was a much simpler place. They just wanted to make art and glass and would try anything and not worry about the outcome. Some survived, some didn't. Do I sound like an old fart that longs for the old days, you're right.
I've decided that staying on the green side of the glass for a few more years and enjoying grandchildren and imparting some of my ideas of what the world should be like and how to treat other people on them is more important than keeping some old books around that I seldom ever look at. They books and what's in them deserve to be in the hands of others who may actually take the flame and carry it.
BTW: I never said Nick's book was much on the technical side which is not a surprise as he didn't give away a lot of info. He just gave you enough to make you frustrated and then make you ask a lot of questions. He was one for wanting people to find the answers on their own with just a little push in the right direction. Every question presented to him was always answered with another question.

Eben Horton 05-04-2018 07:33 AM


Originally Posted by Art Freas (Post 139765)
Still curious about the other questions. I asked the question about two kinds because I saw a shop say they were changing to "Premium Cristalica Glass" Wasn't sure if that was the shop marketing or a new kind of Cristalica.

I get the melting SP87, I might even do it if my shop were bigger and not where it is. I get the studio arts movement back when everybody walked up hill both ways from work, but the reality, the harsh reality for me right now is that the business model where I am just doesn't work for that. You have no idea how much I would like to make my own base and color. While I am a software engineer in my other life I started my education in chemistry. If I won the lottery I would try to buy the Zimmerman formulas and make them myself as a starting point. But alas, the real world intrudes on my dreams.

I just need to do the best I can with the switch over and some information would help that. Then I can move on to taking a coldworking or a welding class.

when they said Premium, they meant the price.

Dave Bross 05-07-2018 10:08 AM

Well said Tom.

Nick Labino did impart some incredibly valuable info when he did cut it loose.
His formula for calculating how much alumina to prevent devit is priceless.

I wish he was more forthcoming. I've seen some colors he did that are like no others.

Dave Bross 05-07-2018 10:19 AM

I'm amused by people thinking it's too complicated to do their clear (or colors) from scratch.

Yes, there is a learning curve, but once past that you get freedom on a grand scale.

a cheap scale, a paint mixer, a 5 gallon bucket, five or six chemicals from the local pottery supply, a few pots that fit in the glory and you're on your way equipment-wise.

As far as knowing how, you could easily extract it from posts here and there are people who will help you if you get stuck.

You have to start somewhere. Here's me back in the beginning of learning how:

P.S. Don't use those formulas exactly, they're lacking alumina and will devit. in humid conditions.

Dan Vanantwerp 05-07-2018 10:54 AM

Hi Dave, I want to address your "amusement" with the idea of not batching your own clear. First, I am very glad that you find it a no-brainer and I am personally taking advantage of your pioneering spirit in defining a phosphate opal that melts at lower temps. I can't thank you enough and I hope you continue to innovate.

However, when I think of the infrastructure that it takes to do this effectively it immediately made me wonder why I would do it. Especially when it comes to making a consistent lot to lot clear glass. Why not let the professional batch companies do it? They select and buy the best materials and in such bulk that the production price plummets. You guys talk about screening stuff so should see my batch from East Bay...there is NOTHING to screen. It is a homogenous, flour like consistency that makes me smile :) When I asked Jim about it he said, "Well I guess I've learned something in 25 years of doing this." There is the other thing you can't substitute for...experience.

I'm trying to get Pete's clear batch from Jim and were planning to do so after Murano. Go back and read the advantages of this borax, clarity, low melting, excellent polishing, SP87 compatibility. Pete could extol on this list better than I can. I think it was disappointing to him that SP did not champion this formula. I can't go too crazy endorsing it as I have not tried it, but I sure am going to. I'll post my results.

Pete VanderLaan 05-07-2018 01:21 PM

Simply put:
One glass does not fit all applications. Nick was of the opinion that a serious artist in glass should make their own glass bodies. I don't go that far but I am fascinated at how little glassworkers actually know about their fundamental working material. Jim is not young, Tom is not young and despite what you say about the reliability of these firms, look at the recent critique of one of those suppliers competitors. Then, Look at the questionable glass that has periodically been marketed By Seattle Batch, Spectrum, lots of middlemen, European imports and Chinese glasses. When you don't know what you don't know it's pretty easy to become a victim of what is available at all.

I don't disagree that buying in bulk is a sound business idea. Tom Littleton mixes my formula for me at a lower price than I can buy it for but I still buy all of those same materials allowing me the flexibility when I genuinely do not want a pelletized formula or I want to make complimentary glasses to my clear. Since I make my own color, I can make make fluorine opals that match my clear in volume. My Gold Ruby still costs me under $1.50 lb to make. The clear may be pricier but not the color, not ever.

My real pleasure is in being self sufficient and knowing that if Jim hangs it up, or Tom does that I'm not caught flat footed and will continue to be able to do pretty much what I choose. I can tell you without reservation that my new able assistant in the shop is one happy camper getting total access to quality glasses.

It was not long ago that I think Jordan showed how small an area can be used to mix glass. I would not advocate a scale that Dave is at but it doesn't take an airplane hanger. It can simply be too easy to rationalize and talk one's way out of becoming a master of a trade.

Dan Vanantwerp 05-07-2018 03:23 PM

I do worry about the loss of people and the effect it will have in the future. Jim is having a hard time keeping up with demand which is great. I would imagine some of the people he works with see this as a viable business opportunity in the case that he steps down. Not everyone wants to write code for cell phone apps...some people want to make batch or other things with real substance. Only time will tell.

My understanding of Jordan's space was as a color lab...not a clear glass production area.

Looking just a little deeper...are you contemplating your clear batch class?

Pete VanderLaan 05-07-2018 03:42 PM

I'm not contemplating anything currently . I have been suggesting to John C that if Mark, He and I were to teach a class up here in a few years it would probably fill up. John is going to teach a class on the rudiments of color at Penland.

I don't quite think you get it. I have at least five base glasses. My Kiwi friend has quite a few more. They all serve specific purposes but all start as clear glasses.
I have not talked to Jim in some time about the clear. The formula card you gave him is not one I currently use and has not got sufficient alumina in my estimation. It was the precursor of the stuff I wrote for Tom that he currently does mic for me on occasion. The non oxidized color base for my current clear is completely new as well.

Dan Vanantwerp 05-07-2018 04:06 PM

I'll just hope that you and Jim work it out. I'm a ready and willing customer when you do. Old stuff works great and I'm sure the new is even better.

Pete VanderLaan 05-07-2018 04:57 PM

It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. Learn all your life.

Art Freas 05-07-2018 07:09 PM

Any chance in getting comments on the original questions ;)

Pete VanderLaan 05-08-2018 06:59 AM

I answered it immediately. One.

I think the loading proposal is sort of silly but it tells you how touchy the stuff is if you want it to fine easily. I could never get it to fine easily. Peter Kuchinke said that loading in just what you need for the day works best. If you leave it in too long, it gets cordy. Sounds great. It is the only thing on the market.

Dave Bross 05-08-2018 12:02 PM

OK, back off-topic we go.

I forgot a few things in my "amusement" post above.

Rubber gloves and respirator are a must have.

Want to scale it up for large amounts of clear? Get a cement mixer from Harbor freight and a bigger scale. The lids off cardboard barrels fit right on the lip of those cement mixers for dust control.

Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig 05-08-2018 09:02 PM

I thought cords formed when the pot dissolved and mixed with the glass, you can see it happening when the glass level drops during the workday and the glass that runs down the side of the pot is pulled towards the center on the surface as you gather. Thats why we use rings in Sweden- to minimize cords.
Nobody knows that its difficult to melt Glasma batch in europe, as often repeated on this forum, so no one has any problems with that, The reason people choose C is that you can melt at lower temperatures and thereby save energy, pot and furnace life, I haven't heard of any difficulties with that either.
I dont have personal experience with C

Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig 05-09-2018 12:53 AM

Remember Glasma is just a mixing facility, all the recipes are made at Glafo, - the Swedish glass research institute , where all known knowledge in glass in Sweden is gathered and all research is done.
They've always been good to small studious in spite of being formed and financed by the big factories. They've helped me several times. You could send them a cloudy Christmas ball and they'll tell you whats wrong with it
Or seedy glass, or whatever
Nobody in the rest of the world gives a s#it whats in their batch. Just use Glasma and get over it.
I have all the respect in the world for the renaissance men that pioneered the glass movement, and I myself owe a lot to Pete and people like him. I have melted homemade batch in the start of my experience with glass, but in some respects they were reinventing the wheel, because all the knowledge was right there in the factories since 1000 years but they didnt ask

Scott Benefield 05-09-2018 06:27 AM

I've melted Glasma batch for the last year and have found it to be a good quality, consistent batch that is pretty easy to melt. I think it's a bit expensive compared to what I used to paying for Spruce Pine, but so is the cost of living here in general compared to the US.

But I think you're wrong about the knowledge base of the factories being so easily accessible that all anyone needed to do was ask. That may be policy now at Glafo, but the reason so many people wound up essentially re-inventing the wheel (and improving it in the process) was precisely that glass factories have historically been so excessively secretive about their processes. The reason that the small studio glass movement has been so successful is partly down to the fact that pooling knowledge and sharing information has been part of its ethos from the very beginning. (You can cite exception to that, but the overall degree of openness represented a sharp break from past practices.)

That's part of the deep irony of GAS, an organization founded to exchange information, hosting a conference on Murano, where all of your property was forfeit if you were found to have leaked proprietary information (not as romantic as the fabled assassins but more factual).

Pete VanderLaan 05-09-2018 07:32 AM

I have to periodically bow to when I started and point out that there was no SP87. We had at the best Keystone Cullet and no European imports at all, so necessity became the mother of invention once Keystone became indiscreet about what got dumped in the barrels. John Mansville Marble were still in use commonly and that was brutish stuff.
What was interesting in retrospect and also profoundly dumb was why the Studio movement simply did not turn to West Virginia which had been making raw glass for decades. The Madison bunch somehow seemed uncomfortable getting information from any of those companies OR those companies had turned away any requests, I just don't know. I do know Harvey Leafgreen saved the day in Toledo in 62 but he's really only mentioned as an aside.
So, the paucity of materials led to making my own which was through Dudley Giberson and when you do make your own and Kugler won't be imported for another four years, it's a no brainer when you realize how relatively easy it is to color glass, so, why go back?
I'll say again that making clear won't save you money but if you make your own color, not only will costs plummet but you will get better colors and you can use them in third and fourth gathers with no concern for cost. That's something. Separating yourself from the field makes you stand out.

And Michael, I can find so many ways to make cords I can't count them. You have noted one.

Art Freas 05-09-2018 08:15 PM

Appreciate the info. Truly do.

Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig 05-10-2018 12:00 AM

Thats because you’re mixing your own batch ,Pete, ....sorry joking
Thats the only way I know how to make cords, except mixing different kinds of batch.
I understand the necessity thing in the early days, but what seems strange was that the knowledge was in west Virginia and in a lot of other places in the US, and very little knowledge was passed over to you guys.
Even if the industry was secretive one would have thought leaks would have occurred through personal relationships
If I remember correctly Harvey L father was employed in a factory in some capacity, yet a book I saw a long time ago by Harvey, was full of statements like: Ive tried this but it might be possible to do it another way, or try that etc
Its not meant as a quote but info was not being transferred to Harvey. I had the extremely lucky opportunity to get to know Harvey during a couple of days while I was working in Japan, and he made a deep impression on me.
My first problem melting my own clear would be sourcing good silica without iron. Ive been told there are very few places mining that. Considering my modest 10 tons a year needs I used to have, I doubt that I could find silica at a competitive price to Glasmas batch

Pete VanderLaan 05-10-2018 05:21 AM

Harvey's father was more than employed in some capacity in Glass, he was quite significant but none of it explains the lack of interaction between the differing approaches . It was the case that GAS held one conference early on in Huntington at what I recall was the Fenton Plant.

The best silica in the world right now is coming out of China. Unbelievably clean. I have some pieces here from the Shanghai factory that are simply flawless ten inch thick examples.

Tom Fuhrman 05-10-2018 08:53 AM

Harvey's father was employed by Corning and he was in charge of much of the lab work at Corning in the 30's as I read some where. I think he was given credit for a lot of the development of Pyrex.
I think part of the problem arose between the factories and the universities that the factory people always thought they were looked down upon by the scholars and there was always a bit of a barrier there. Fenton did hold one of the early GAS meetings. The exchange of melting formulas was not very common even between factories. Formulas were usually kept by the batch mixer and few in the factories were privy to those. Those batch mixers were usually not any of the workers who actually worked the glass. They just had the responsibility of having the glass available for the guys on the floor to work.
There are still a few old timers who ran studios and made a decent living at it that never thought they got the respect they should have from the university people. In the early days it was about having fun and exploring the media, then it came to making $ and as we have heard many times everything changed.
Even the newer guys that got adept at mixing and making new glasses guarded their formulas and their artistic endeavors closely. There are some of those still around and I sense much of their knowledge will go to the grave with them. People don't really want to share some intellectual property that they worked hard and sweat to develop and bring to fruition. I know several of these guys and don't blame them.

Pete VanderLaan 05-10-2018 09:39 AM

I had thought that Tom's grandfather was involved with the development of the dilatometer.
As to the universities looking down on the factories, they did, period. They also looked down on any venture that was initiated outside of the University blessing with a notable exception being Penland. The academics considered the private shops to be something of a whore, taking advantage of all their efforts which wasn't true. When Frank Kulasiewicz published his book which I read again last night, Henry went after him with a vengeance trying to pick apart safety issues and such. What went unnoticed in that book was Frank publishing formulations for Lead glasses which was unheard of at the time in the school structure. Frank did a step by step of how to build the tooling. That was indeed a threat to the academics as it was when I gave a similar class at pilchuck only to have Dale knock over the lectern. When we held the hot glass information exchange and invited academics it was virtually ignored except by Andy Billici. So, there indeed was a somewhat laughable snot factor. When the private shops eclipsed the academics in the early '90's and all of the old guard in the schools began to retire, the tables had been turned substantially.

Formulas, I let some out, some I don't. I'll hang a lantern out on the road to light the path but I'm not driving anyone to Mecca.

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