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Pete VanderLaan 02-23-2018 07:08 AM

It has changed so much since I wrote the sections on Batch Glass for Glassnotes IV. Most of the suppliers I used are long gone. It's hard to buy chemicals reasonably unless you have a nice connection with a huge user. All the little jobbers have vanished. In color, I am continuing to run on the materials I bought fifteen years ago for the most part. Things like silver nitrate or gold chloride, I continue to make myself although nitric acid is far more difficult to acquire reasonably. Chemicals such as nitrates are difficult to acquire since 9/11 and the McVeigh bombing.

Pete VanderLaan 02-26-2018 05:21 PM

So, I had this interesting conversation with Fred Metz fromSpiral Arts today. He had ordered a pot but then called , so I called back. We talked about a ton of stuff but what is pertinent here is sintering and cristallica as two subjects.

First. I had suggested to Fred today that he sinter as much as possible the High Temp pots. I am pushing 2500F which is a typical outside limit for the refractories in many furnaces. Some simply can't do it at all. ( wire kilns). Fred suggested that he refired his selling pots to 2650F and they lasted a lot longer. . With K26 brick you can't try that, even 28 is a risk. He suggested that Engineering had really let it's quality control fall off and we talked Fafnir pots from Germany but neither of us is willing to jump through the hoops to bring them in. Croucher had told me that he got about 18 melts from the Fafnirs but John is brutal in his melts.

The other part was Cristalica. I had written Andreea, their spokesperson who I initially talked to when bringing in the cullet to the USA for Spruce Pine about 18 months back urging her to get the borax out of the cullet. That met what I thought to be some bullshit resistance about EU needs on bar ware which I chucked aside.
So, I wrote to her again last week on the same subject and got no answer which did not surprise me. They rely on Peter Kuchinke as their glass chemist. That's fine but this issue is specific. Cristalica currently is simply no different that SYS96 with a different expansion. Durk did a great job of explaining how the boron with water create moisture creating borates that attack silicates and fireclays in a serious way. That is dissolution of the Kiln. Canned Heat has complained, Fred says its real, I'm not surprised but we all were surprised that the pots were not being hit.

So now, Cristalica is saying it will change the formula. That's maybe good news but it depends entirely on how they do it. Adding Lithium is a serious price change and using Fluorine will crash the wire melters and moly people. I have my opinions and have made them clear but they don't call me.
If Oceanside was to commit tomorrow to making the purloined SP 87 formula in Mexico, they could turn this world upside down.

Even so, $1.70 cullet is coming right at you. I'm off to Portland to get silica.

Jordan Kube 02-26-2018 05:26 PM

Cristallica would be making a huge mistake not learning from the Spectrum debacle. After 3 years of running the Spectrum with borax through 1000# Wetdog furnaces they were trashed. After 2 years running the no borax formula they look like they could definitely beat that by a year or two. Nobody should have to put up with the glass destroying their furnace. It was total bullshit that Spectrum let it go on so long.

Pete VanderLaan 02-26-2018 05:35 PM

Jordan, I agree. I'm a simple glass artist sort of turned chemist who just looks at the dog and pony show. I admit to trying to make an income in my dotage but this is a major issue that should be looked through.

SP87 as it sits is a remarkably benign glass for studio work. It is loose and sloppy which the goblet makers love. Mine is fat and polishes which I seem to like but who cares about that.

I think people want glass that doesn't give them grief in one way or another.
Actually , that's not hard. Currently Cristalica has no alumina in it. Why is that?
It won't last as currently formulated.

Pete VanderLaan 02-26-2018 05:44 PM

and... I continue to see a cullet shortage.

Josh Bernbaum 02-27-2018 08:11 AM


Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan (Post 138753)
SP87 as it sits is a remarkably benign glass for studio work. It is loose and sloppy which the goblet makers love. Mine is fat and polishes which I seem to like but who cares about that.

I make goblets sometimes and I actually don't care for the SP87 characteristics for a lot of that process. Maybe avolios aside, I prefer a shorter glass for stem and foot stuff. Other than that I'm sticking with the SP as long as I can.

Rahman Anderson 03-05-2018 10:46 AM

Has anyone heard anything about Sunspot Studios? I just saw an advertisement today for a new cullet. It doesn’t look like cullet to me. Powder?

Pete VanderLaan 03-05-2018 01:03 PM

If it's the same sunspot studios I'm aware of, I would not have much confidence in that. At one point I had to ask the owner having trouble with my copper ruby formula

"So, What color is your black Tin?"

Just an idiot. He bought playground sand.

Actually making a well engineered clear cullet and marketing it is not an easy trick. As I look back over the last 30 years, every single one has failed either on an engineering basis or financially. with the exception of Bullseye.
The only stuff that consistently continues to be made reliably for the blowing studio is Spruce Pine Batch.

Eben Horton 03-05-2018 03:12 PM

Aside from calling sodium silicate batch cullet, there’s also a new trend with selling furnaces - an invested pot furnace is now called a round Day tank.

Jordan Kube 03-05-2018 03:17 PM

This is absolutely not being used as a color base by glassybaby. Be careful people.

Mark Rosenbaum 03-05-2018 03:56 PM

Olympic uses it???? Instead of Cristallica??? I don't think so...

Pete VanderLaan 03-05-2018 04:48 PM

This is kind of what I expect from these people. It's the primary reason I decided to stop teaching. This is snake oil.

I am going to delete the links to them in other posts. Beware!

I'm truly appalled at this. Doug has a very small conscience. I'll be a bit more open. He took my color class and then went home and wanted to sell color rod using my formulas. I objected based in copyright and he was furious. He called the color rod group by a well known rock group name. He couldn't even come up with an original name for that.

when any of you think about intellectual property rights in your own work, consider this please. support my friend and mentor John Croucher at Gaffer Glass, not this stuff. I've worked for years to educate and this pushes me to no longer do it. It's antithetical to what I believe in.

Greg Vriethoff 03-05-2018 05:01 PM

There are two varieties of color rod/frit that are now being sold by [name redacted]. Each bears the name of a famous rock band.

I won't link or name names.

Sorry, Pete.

Pete VanderLaan 03-05-2018 05:06 PM

I refer to it as a "poverty of imagination"
I just think of the giants I was allowed to stand on the shoulders of. No one asked for a thing.They handed me the flashlight. We'll be friends to the very end. Those people are my beacon. This guy? a POS. Put it on the tombstone.

Peter Kuchinke 03-06-2018 03:25 PM

From the Cristalica maker
I have followed this - and other forums - closely for years.
Today I feel it might be of interest to explain a little and give the possibility of open discussion.
In 2001 I started to make "cullet on purpose", because swedish studioglassmakers could not buy anymore cullet from the manufactures in Smaaland, Sweden.
Since that first production in a very large production furnace at a rate of 30 metric tons a day. a 300 ton melt was done to help studioglassmakers to reduce cost for energy and crucibles.
In 2003 another 500 tons, in 2005 another 400 tons and in 2007 600 tons were made in Europe at a Fiber glass plant.
Many studioglass artists liked it ----but you can never compare quality to what a Glasma batch can do.
In 2010 the Cristalica plant at Döbern Germany started to make a simular glass, under my supervision and upon my recipe with a low boron content (1.2%) at a rate of 2 tons a day.
Spektrum made a very simular glass to that ----(spektrum 2.0 has 2% less Kalium and 2% more Natrium-- and I have absolutely nothing to say about it, it honors me. Also as an ecologist I think its a good idea to have another place in the world to do that product.
Now Spectrum does not produce anymore-one reason is of course that this business is very difficult to make a profitable production out of it .
The capacity of Cristalica is expanded to 5 tons/ day and can be expanded even more.
Please feel free to ask whatever questions you wish to ask!!
About Boron? Sure !
There will be a second recipe without boron, I have wanted to make it for ages, but with orders coming in, there has not been a chance.

One answer about Glasma 705 I want to give straight away (it contains boron) : The reason why it melts so low (here in Boda we melt it at 1260 over night) is that it is agglormerated batch not to be compared with loose batch, agglomerated batch is made in a different way, adding a higher amount of umidity and later drying it out makes bigger granules which heat up faster and melt down much easier, that is one of several answers...

Best regards
Peter Kuchinke

Pete VanderLaan 03-06-2018 05:56 PM

5 tons a day won't meet european and American demand. My calc suggest 1.5 % boron and the move to remove it is something I suggested almost two years ago. The reports from furnace makers here are something of what I expected with the silicates and fireclays being assaulted as Durk suggests. It is very similar in effect to the SYs96 when Spectrum and Uroboros teamed up to make a low melt glass.
Given American models and kilns, fluorine is not an option given the number of electric units. Lithium is really expensive. The other option I see is nitrates.

There's no free lunch to a low melt. The circumstances that make for low viscosity couple up with assaults on refractories. Spectrum was criticised for it and initially blamed the crucible makers until finally changing the product as I have urged Andreea to do. That, as I expected was dismissed. Now, taking the boron out will require changes in the potassium content and the sodium as well. That will really change the viscosity curves which show up in performance. That says nothing about the expansion coefficients and the european and American models are somewhat different. Significantly so.

So, it will be interesting to see what occurs with the alteration of that formula. I simply would not want to be the supplier holding 40 containers of the old stuff if a new improved model comes into existence.

That's my current take on this. Your work is certainly cut out for you.

Bob Meyer 03-17-2018 02:07 PM

I'm wondering whether anyone has done any side-by-side comparisons of furnace wear with a boron and non-boron glass. So far, it seems that conclusions about this have been based on anecdote and theory. Obviously, some people are likely to draw conclusions far earlier than others, e.g., one local glassblower who is loathing the idea of switching from nuggets because he says the boron will "eat up his pot" (something that even Pete has admitted he hasn't heard of). But it seems like a concept that could use more substantiation. I've been impressed in the past about the side-by-side studies done with things like recuperation by people in this group. The kind of variables that make side-by-side comparisons useful for recuperation, I would think, are just as substantial regarding furnace wear from boron. Plus, it seems that the kind of glass we use - and the damage it might cause - could represent an even greater impact than the amount of fuel we burn.

I've been through all the Spectrum products (studio and premium, boron and non-boron nuggets) ever since the nuggets first came out, and I can't say I've observed any difference in furnace wear between any of them. Each had it's own working qualities, certainly, but that seemed to be the extent of the differences.

We've been using Cristalica for a month or two now, and we've all (myself and 2 other guys) have experienced a notable improvement in a number of working qualities over any of the nuggets. It's a real pleasure to work with - I'm guessing maybe closer to what you SP batch people get to experience. For us (and me in particular, being the one that gets to pay for the furnace maintenance), I'd much rather be using the Cristalica - even with the theoretical possibility of furnace damage - than using, especially, the non-boron nuggets. I'd go so far as to say that I wouldn't switch back to the non-boron nuggets now even if they were available. I'd guess that a lot of the wire melters will experience a similar difference, and faced with the known quantity of better workability vs. the theoretical possibility of furnace damage, the choice may not be difficult even if there were alternatives.

As Pete has said, we wire melters don't have much choice. But that's not so bad - I'm really liking the Cristalica a lot, and will likely stick with it unless I see something like a notable premature aging of my furnace, the price skyrocketing, or them not being able to keep up with demand - all possible downsides that have been discussed here. I'm not blind to the possibilities, thanks to the information presented here, but I also don't see any reason to get too worked up before any of it actually happens. For now, at least, I'm just thoroughly enjoying being able to work with such a high-quality glass.

Jordan Kube 03-17-2018 03:33 PM

2 Attachment(s)
The comparison has been done. Spectrum's glass ate away everyone's furnaces for ten years. The pictures below are of a 1000# Wetdog tank furnace after only 3 years. They were dead, dead, dead. The new ones have been in service for 2 years and could go another 2 or 3 after spectrum changed their formula.

The first picture is of the crown. The second is of the flue outlet into the recuperator block and that was with frequent cleaning!

Not everyone will experience erosion like this and I hope no one does. People are understandably nervous after Spectrum.

Pete VanderLaan 03-17-2018 04:09 PM

I spend an inordinate amount of time on this issue being one of the relatively few who make glass bodies from raw stuff and also selling crucibles. If I didn't do that, I would have had to find another way to make a living long ago.

If you run electric without a flue, you're going to see the assault. The borate as Durk so kindly identified will eat a lot of stuff quickly, Boron above 2% will do it as will Barium above 2-3 percent. This glass has both.

We strive to make a decent crucible at a fair price, Glass is still the universal solvent. The low melt glasses do it for a reason. Melt them hot and they'll clean you out. I would say now that these glasses SHOULD eat our pots and I expect issues. I advise my clients now to sinter their pots on receipt at 2500F. Fred Metz goes to 2650F.
I just don't melt these cullets. I do melt occasional fluorines and I do that at under 2200F in under three hours. They eat pots, brick , crowns, neighbors, thermocouple tubes, you name it. Boron is just another low melt material. Fluorspar is another. I use nitrates to get there. They have the most benign effect on the pots.
It is not a falling off a log to dump the boron from the German stuff. It will change the viscosity, annealing, expansion ranges along with a host of other issues. It can be done.
Jordan, I actually can't quite tell what the second shot is of but it's gross. Part of the problem here is our national choice of refractories and how they get used. It's mostly alumina and it would be far better if it was fusion cast but you would spend weeks bringing the furnace to temperature and there's no patience for it. Slippery Rock is the only bunch doing AZS in this country anymore. Eddie locked on to it but if I hear you right, it's under assault by the German cullet.

If Oceanside had a brain in their heads, they'd be in Tijuana right now making the purloined SP87 formula they bought from SPectrum. I'd invest tomorrow.

Jordan Kube 03-17-2018 05:49 PM

That corrosion was all the result of the old spectrum formula. I'm giving cristalica a chance. It would be sad to see it do the same thing as that old formula though.

Pete VanderLaan 03-18-2018 07:40 AM

Jordan, My son is here and says he wants to try to plasma cut hot glass. I'm stumped as to all the things that would likely go wrong. Got ideas?

As to the Cristalica, I suspect the wear will not be as great with the cristalica but that it indeed will be there. The furnace makers have certainly noticed. Further, there is significant shift back to Spruce Pine batch with the statement being excessive wear.

Sky Campbell 03-18-2018 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan (Post 139042)
Jordan, My son is here and says he wants to try to plasma cut hot glass. I'm stumped as to all the things that would likely go wrong. Got ideas?

I've tried it with no success. The arc needs to find the ground. I tried using copper foil over it leaves a mess under doesn't find the ground. Does make me wonder if a dicro coating could be enough to make something happen. I do have about a ton of dicro disks used for the space program. Never found a use for it. I think it's coated vycor or quartz slumping even at high temps yielded little results. I'll give it a go and report back. Please let me know if he discovers something new you never know unless you try.

Sky Campbell 03-18-2018 02:52 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Reading again I see you said hot glass. I think even hot glass loses its conductive properties very quickly. We tried to strike an arc with carbon by connecting ground to blowpipe on a fresh gather and never could get it to arc. I tried the plasma on one of these dicro disks. The coating definitely connected the ground but if it was a soda lime the temp change would have blown it apart. I do love science experiments.

Pete VanderLaan 03-18-2018 03:17 PM

It struck me as really dangerous but he did have the thought of grounding the bench and that seemed like it could cause a lot of arcing on the rails. It is something which has my fire chief radar way out thinking about splatter. Perhaps a piece that has copper reduction on the surface? I'd be pretty sure it would trash some consumables and it is my plasma cutter but I told him I would ask.
Right now, he's weathering wood with Ammonium Chloride and then hitting it with a bench torch for the weathering effects which are quite cool.

Eben Horton 03-18-2018 03:30 PM

how about piercing a semi molten 6" sphere with the 30/30 ?? put a pipe hanger outside by your horse trailer and tie a string to the trigger......

what could possibly go wrong?!?!?!

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