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Old 08-05-2018, 06:15 PM
Peter Antal Peter Antal is offline
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Setting Up a New Studio - questions, questions...

Hi All,

New to the group - Thanks to Ted Trower from LinkedIn for letting me know you all exist!

I've been studying glassblowing fairly intermittently (1-2x month) since 2013 and finally came to the decision that I really wanted to delve into it a good bit more. In order to do that, I needed to stop driving 1.5 hrs each time for lessons and paying rental costs. So I did some fundraising...and came up pretty short on my target for buying new equipment. But I did make some headway AND I found a person who is incredibly handy with building things who has sold me a working gloryhole and is also offering to build me a furnace I can afford so I can get some much needed experience with the craft.

I've had a chance to review some of the past threads here and will apologize in advance for asking seemingly simple questions that Im beginning to realize are likely pretty complicated in their answers.... that said, as a near complete newbie in getting my own shop together, I'm hoping you all might share a bit of expertise and friendly advice to some of my queries....

Context: Planned use for the next 1-2 years is probably only going to be 10-20 hours / week as I have to keep my day job, likely looking at a getting a propane furnace built. Looking to continue working in soft glass rather than boro.

1) Furnace
a. I think I read in one of the threads a recommendation to have the burner head pointed above the crucible to reduce direct heat shock and extend the life of the crucible?
b. Or would it be better to have it located below the crucible and have the crucible on a stand or fire brick?
c. recommendations on materials for the base, sides, top?
d. what target temp should the furnace be able to reach to get molasses/honey consistency in the glass (assuming soft glass)
e. any online designs that you have found that you particularly like?

2) Glass Supplier
a. I read enough of the threads re: different glass suppliers and COE ratings to make my head spin so I'm left a bit confused as to how best to move forward. Given the relatively small operation I'll be starting out with, which supplier would you recommend and why? (planning on a mix of clear and colored creations)

3) Crucible Supplier
a. any recommendations for smaller pots (10" tall, 7" diameter)(e.g. like stay away from the cheaper ones or you'll be really sorry)? any other tips for extending the life of these other than making sure to completely empty the pot and slowly cooling it down when done?

4) Safety
My family let me take over the garage - separate structure from the house, has a concrete floor, thin wood sides and a roof. Assuming I'm running things off of propane, I figure I can buy some monitors to make sure I have enough ventilation for carbon monoxide. but...
a. are there other airborne elements I should be testing for to make sure the environment is safe?
b. if I'm using small 5 gallon tanks for running the furnace a day or two at a time, I was leary of having gas lines run over my work space floor and tripping over them, but what's the typical distance I should keep between my furnace and gloryhole and the gas supply?
c. should the gas tanks be located outside the garage? (i'm assuming yes, but didn't know if anyone ever sets up their shop with a closer arrangement)

5) Working with different COE's
Given that ratings for some glass types say one thing, but are really another (system 96 being more of a 94 as I've read elsewhere here) and colors being made by different companies can have different COEs and transparency / opaqueness can alter this as well... how much variance can there be in COE range? Can even broader ranges (e.g. 6-10 points difference in COE) be mixed so long as you are extending out the annealing schedule? Or is this just impractical / bad idea?

6) Any other practical advice for a new shop?

Well, those are my starter questions... I know there's a ton to learn....

Many thanks for any advice you all can offer,
Peter
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:49 PM
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Pete VanderLaan Pete VanderLaan is offline
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Where in New Hampshire?
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:24 PM
Philip Yamron Philip Yamron is offline
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You should find yourself a copy of Henry Halems "Glass Notes".

Best of luck with your new venture!!!
You didn't ask for it but just my own thoughts.
running a studio, even a small one is a shit ton of work, sorry for the language, and can be a very large investment of $$$$ and time. Not trying to discourage you in any way, I'm also addicted to the goo, but you might want to look at cost and time of rental vs. cost and time of your own space. There are a lot of "moving parts" in a glass studio and most of them are being slowly destroyed as soon as you fire up. That being said, you've come to the right place for info. Again best of luck in your new venture!!!
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:33 PM
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Richard Huntrods Richard Huntrods is offline
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In a garage? Hobby blower?

Buy Mark Lauckner's how-to video on the 40lb wire melter and then build it. You will learn far more making your own furnace than ever buying stuff.

The 40lb electric is perfectly fine as a first furnace, as you are unlikely to blow through 40lbs at the start. When you need more per week, build something else. Then turn the 40lb into a color furnace.

I would not recommend a propane furnace in a garage. Way too much danger of just burning down in the future (pyrolysis of the roof trusses over time). Electric isn't as good in many ways according to most here on the board, but it's a ton safer in a garage.

Melt Spruce Pine batch. It's not hard at all in a wire unit.

But if money is tight, then building your own is really the only way to proceed, IMO.
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:36 AM
Max Epstein Max Epstein is offline
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Thumbs up

1)
Check out Mobile Glass Studios. This is the "weekend warrior" setup. Note that these furnaces are portable, inefficient/uninsulated, and designed to be turned on and off (at the cost of longevity) -- OUTSIDE
http://www.mobileglassblowingstudios.com/equipment.html


vs. the far beefier, insulated, always-on furnace
http://wdg-us.com/

**do some research and build it yourself, not your friend. I'm almost done with my second furnace build, it's frustrating but invaluable in the end**

____

If you are working 10-20 hours a week, and not just Saturday and Sunday, you really should have an *always on* furnace. The mobile furnace takes 5 hours to heat up, so get ready to wake up early with the Mobile Dragon. I was doing it 3-5 days a week and it's brutal. Also it destroys your furnace and will need rebuilding every 2-3 years as compared to 10 or so


4)
You *will* need a hood and exhaust fan working inside (~$5000-7500 installed). As well as fireproof sheetrock in some areas to make sure you don't burn the joint down.

PROPANE is a no-go in a garage (IMO). Propane (here) is $2.25 a gallon. Natural Gas is something like $0.27.

At HOME, and not a commercial/industrial studio, electric furnaces make a lot more sense. WAY safer. And you can turn your glory hole on/off, which is always attended, lowering risk.

NO propane tanks in the shop. Get a large tank outside, and pipe it in. BTW, I burn between 1/2 and 1 gallon of propane an hour when heating up. So... 5 gallon tanks won't last you very long.

Also, look at the full flame safety kit on the Mobile Dragons. It's about $5,000 alone.




I'll jot some more thoughts down when I get a chance. I built my first shop almost 3 years ago so it's definitely worth it just multiply the $$$ you have saved by about 3-4 to get realistic

Please see this short by Eben Horton, who is on this board, for inspiration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR_lc8wqyaw&t=21s
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:49 AM
Max Epstein Max Epstein is offline
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Also, meet up with Pete. He knows his shit and ur lucky you live in the same state! That's my #1 advice.
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:43 AM
Peter Antal Peter Antal is offline
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thanks for the feedback all - much appreciated

Pete: re: location - living in Bradford, NH

re: Glass Notes book - think I actually have that on hand along with Giberson's A Glass companion, will dig it up. Giberson apparently lives like 2 town over from mine. Apparently NH is a great place to build on the craft!

re: rental vs own workshop - given my other work, cost and time are critical factors, just lose too much time driving back and forth... on the cost end, I know I can make a small profit each year by renting space, but I never get the time to just experiment and get ahead of things so that I can have enough to actually sell pieces in multiple venues and make a go of it. So if there's a way to make this work and do more, I definately want to find it!

re: mobile glass blowing - I had checked these guys out initially and they were actually my first choice. The main challenge was just not having enough cash on hand - between the dragon and the other material i'd need, was looking at close to $20,000 and can't afford to put my family deeper in debt. Needed to find a way for getting started for about $5,000. The gloryhole I picked up only cost about $600, and my friend can likely help out with the furnace for under a $1,000 if gas. He also had a bunch of tools, some brand new (including gloves) that I was able to pick up for a third of the cost.

re: gas vs. electric: comments here have me rethinking this and my assumptions; will check out the video and talk with my friend about what we might do. Seems like there's multiple reasons for long term cost savings to keep the device on for longer stretches and I'd like to keep my garage from blowing up.

In case it's helpful to anyone, I can offer some advice on the social media end as I've been learning a good bit over the last few years as to what seems to work with growing a following across different outlets, but not sure if this kind of thing is already old hat to the more established folks here.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:47 AM
Peter Antal Peter Antal is offline
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On the electric front, came across this set up (https://www.sheffield-pottery.com/Pa.../pavulcru2.htm) which comes to 2269 including shipping. I'd love to be able to make my own electric furnace, but unfortunately dont have many of the tools needed (for cutting metal, fusing, etc.). that said, my friend does, so a joint project is still a possibility. Curious though as this is the lowest cost i've seen for an electric furnace set up and it seems like it may be a good investment... any thoughts on the company and/or this particular item for an initial furnace?
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:08 AM
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Pete VanderLaan Pete VanderLaan is offline
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There's an enormous amount of stuff here to assimilate. If you own your own home start with your insurance co and make sure you're covered.

5K for a safety system is much more than you need to spend even if it's gas. Electric safety is really rather marginal in cost. The gloryhole at least needs a solenoid valve if nothing else. Don't leave it unattended or come look at the safety system we use for such things here at a cost of about $400 dollars.
The Paragon is yet another of a group of underinsulated converted ceramic kilns for sale. To get started, it's hard to beat. It has tons of drawbacks but they all do. There's Skutt, Jen Ken, as well to name a few.

Consider melting Spruce Pine 87 snowflake version. It melts a lot easier especially in a wire unit. This is now general advice I'm giving to all wire people now. Greg Fidler at Spruce Pine and I have talked it over and I think they are going to mix a few tons and see if demand comes up. It really makes wire melting possible.

Don't put a dragon in a garage.

You need 100 AMPS to do this clear of any other tooling.

Keep equipment at least 18 inches from combustibles of any kind.

It's very hard to improve your skills unless you practice a lot. I find a 40 lb pot small but a 75 lb pot is quite nice and I doubt it costs much more to run. Your cost is running the temp up to melt and the time spent at that temp.

Dudley is a great resource. He has all kinds of interesting things he sells. Relays, elements, etc. I just sell pots, occasional color rods and moly elements

Get glassnotes IV, not earlier editions. It's out of print and rather expensive these days.

Learn to weld and buy a welder. It will save you a ton of money.

You are coming into this at an interesting time.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:59 AM
Peter Antal Peter Antal is offline
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thanks for your thoughts Pete -

Re: insurance, I know my home owner's wont cover it, but Ive been using ACT insurance and they have an additional policy rider for covering workshop equipment and insurance for teaching students

I have a small jen ken annealer which I've been using for fused work over the past few years - figure this can get me buy while I make more things and get it upgraded (or find another great deal on craigslist)

re: Glass - in terms of melting - whats the difference between the spruce pine and the cristallica that the site sells? is the cristallica not so good with a wire melting set up?

re: gas to the gloryhole - I actually do have the ability to avoid using a small tank. Our home runs on propane, so i gather I could just get the company to run a new line into my garage

re: Air flow - what are your thoughts on the benefits / drawbacks of an over the head fan and duct work over the glory hole (or inbetween the glory hold and bench? / something like this? http://www.rangehoodsinc.com/product...ange-Hood.html) versus a set up of multiple fans to blow air in and suck air out (saw one design for one fan blowing in on one wall and two additional fans sucking air out on 2 separate walls if I cut out some holes). It seems like the latter with the larger fans (thinking 2' wide fans) would create much better air flow, but its more distant from the working area and so may not draw enough of the bad air away....

thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:02 AM
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Pete VanderLaan Pete VanderLaan is offline
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Cristalica is simply currently unavailable. The OCR site says it will have some in Oct /Nov. How reassuring. Currently, it is quite corrosive despite claims that this is all in my head.

Spruce Pine batch is available and I'm suggesting using the snowflake version in electric kilns since those kiln have issues with getting quite hot enough.

Put the hot tools in an insulated hood. You should ideally have an air change of the entire garage as follows : Once every two minutes will give a hot studio. once a minute will be a lot cooler. My old Santa Fe shop was once every 20 seconds.

You will need a 2lb regulator on the propane. Dudley sells needle valves and BASO valves for such stuff. Get a high pressure BASO valve. Dudley also makes very nice burners for the tooling as well. He also sells controllers from Auber which are quite perverse but cheap.

Learn to weld, take a class. It will save you endless grief and money.
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