Up late again, working at what's quickly becoming my favorite pastime, glassblowing. I've got an order for smaller bubblers that I'm working on filling. It was already technically supposed to be done, but both my customer and I weren't ready. The extra time has given me the chance to really grind down and focus on getting the job done and done well. My biggest battles were quality and quantity in a timely manner. Before I took this job, I was making a wonky bubbler an hour at best, which wasn't going to cut it. Not only was I working slow, but I was having a lot of difficulty coming out with a nice product, or any product for that matter. At this point, I've realized it all had to do with nerves, but it was scary to go through at the time.
My focus recently has been fuming, with pretty cool results that are hard to show with a crappy cell phone and worse lighting. This is the color changing effect that I was referring to in a recent article I wrote on the subject. With this order for bubblers, I've been using it as an excuse to practice my fuming and I've been having very good results, results I've been proud of. I've even made myself a hair bead for my dreadlocks at this point, which might be the coolest fumed thing I've done. Try as hard as I might, I cannot get a picture worth a damn. I am ever amazed at the colors that come out of fuming. I've managed to get red to show, although I cannot for the life of me figure out how.
Here's an example of some of the combinations I've been working with; I'm a huge fan of fumed blue although I've not made very many pipes with it. The difficulty I've had with using the blue tubing for the bottom of the bubbler is that I've not been able to judge size well enough when preparing the blank. That combined with my weakness with being able to condense a lot of tube into a thick bubble made just about every piece I made like this just not right in one way or another.
This was from a bubbler that weren't bad, although the fuming and decorating went pretty well. The light blue designs all come from the silver fuming. This was a bubbler from the few days where I was really having troubles producing what I wanted to. I spent some time thinking and drawing before I headed back to the studio, which vastly improved my output.
An example of one of the newer bubblers. Considering I've got very little tools and glass, I'm making it happen surprisingly well. I've enabled the use of the stopwatch on my phone and it's done an excellent job of metaphorically kicking me in the ass on my pace, which really helps.
An example of my inability to condense tubing well, that just means I cant condense a tube into a bubble evenly, or at least it's something I struggle with anyway. I've gotten better at this, although I've chosen not to focus on it too much now as it always takes extra gas and glass to learn something new.
Things happen when working, like cracks. One on the bottom of this piece right at the end made me give up on what was honestly already more frustrating than it was worth.
I've had all sorts of troubles, from proportion to shaping of the bowl to ensuring a good seal. These are all things that every glassblower that embarks on the art of making pipes and bubblers must go through, these are the growing pains. My situation is slightly worse because I don't have most of the glassblowing tools that many artists consider essential in their studio. I'm broke and just starting out, so homemade tools are okay for now. So long as the work continues, I'll be investing in a toolkit. It's not all heady bongs and sherlocks in glassblowing, there's a lot of fucking up to be had first.
This is one that I'm pretty sad developed a crack in the cooling process. The only good thing about it is it's a cool bubbler that's now mine, as I'm not going to sell something with a crack if I know about it. I've sped up my time, increased my quality and have improved my fuming a lot, which makes the whole process a lot more fun. Glassblowing got really hard there when it seemed like I wasn't any good, something that seemed to be partially in my head.
This whole experience is teaching me a lot and comes with many benefits. If the order goes through, the money from it will cover our rent for this month. I've been getting to practice thinking and problem solving in a way I can relate to, which is making things go better in my life as well as in the studio. I'm learning hand eye coordination and to steady my hands. It's also helping me learn to fix and deal with mistakes, something I've always struggled with.
I've heard many say that glass is a cruel mistress, and they're right. It has a habit of showing you when you aren't ready for something, sometimes explosively. It needs to be treated right to get good results, like anything worth a damn in in life. It's burned me many times, but it's the one thing that keeps me motivated when things get tough, which helps considering I have a huge job to finish. Speaking of that, time to head back to the torch now that the kiln is nearly cool and ready to empty!