Author Topic: How to work borosilicate on one oxycon.  (Read 9526 times)


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How to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« on: March 16, 2011, 06:20:33 PM »
So, is it possible to do boro on a big girls torch and one oxycon? The answer is yes but you must work methodically and by default slowly.

Borosilicate on a big torch and one oxycon setup is not dissimilar to making very large beads on a hothead. You need patience but if you really want to do then it is possible.

Before you start you need to realise that making large, solid pieces may exceed your patience. The sheer mass of boro is very reluctant to melt and stay fluid and cools to firm the second it is out of the flame.

For this experiment I visited Kevin at I shop here for two reasons, he's a nice guy and sells colour boro in half rods. NO other seller in the uk sells boro this way and it is a fantastically economical way to have a go without breaking the bank. He does have options for full rods and 1/4 kg if you fall in lust with a colour.

I used this clear boro 4mm is plenty thick enough on this kind of set up. It doesn't take long to melt and the diameter of the rod holds heat well.

In the interest of frugality I used very little colour and lots of clear and found that the clear boro reflects the small amount of colour all around itself and gives the illusion of much more being used.

My setup is a midrange with a minor top and two oxycons, for purposes of this tutorial I used JUST the minor top and ONE oxycon. I wanted to give boro a serious chance to be used by most of us with a one oxy setup.

While experimenting I came to two important conclusions.

1. NEVER take your glass out of the flame.

2. Plan your piece and think outside the box.

So why can't I take my glass out of the flame you ask? Well, its simple, boro is very hard glass and you just will not get the fluidity that you are used to with soft glass. The longer the glass is in the flame, the more fluid it stays and the easier it is to work.

For a test run sit down with a rod of 4mm clear and wind a 10mm ish bead onto your mandrel. Do this by heating the rod in the front of the flame and keep the mandrel warm in the back. Wind the bead and then swap places, keep the rod in the back of the flame, still in the hot area and bring the bead to the front and hold it there.

You will see that your wraps take much longer to melt in. Because this is the case I found it faster to hold the bead in the flame and as the wraps start to melt turn the bead VERY slowly. You will see the glass flow as you turn. When it is all melted take it out of the flame, turn the mandrel once then try and drag the glass on the bead.

This is your first lesson that will show you just how quickly this glass firms up

So now to thinking outside the box. You still have plenty of options on your setup. You can go hollow, or latticework, sculptural or solid but small. If you want to create large pieces then think in terms of adding space to your beads or sculpture.

I have been playing with Momkas glass for this experiment and I haven't come across a colour yet that I didn't like. I didn't do anything special like strike or reduce or kiln strike, these are just worked in the flame and then left on the side to cool down.

Boro has a wonderful wispy quality that just isn't found in most of the soft glasses. It starts off in the rod as rather mundane and the more you work it the more these amazing colours and whisps and rainbows pop out of it.

I have yet to find boro poppy, and I do just bung all of my glass straight into the flame, none of this wafting malarkey. I have yet to find it scummy, and I do tend to abuse my rods  and work as hot as possible and despite my best attempts I haven't managed to smut it up yet either!

I think it is fair to note here that most of these glasses can be reduced or struck to do much more but I wanted to show you how you can make the colours pop with just this simple approach.

The following pictures are taken outside in natural light on a cloudy day, I haven't tweaked the colours at all. A word of warning, boro is very hard to photograph 'true' and it is something I have struggled with.

So without further ado, the colours. I have given you the colour I used, the link to Kevins site so you can see the results from Fiona and Emma who both work boro on a dedicated setup and get great results. When you compare my results on one oxy you can definitely see a difference but the results are still fab.

Stormy Weather

Front and back of the same little fella Some very gorgeous and easy to work colours popping here including a rich purple.

Silver Beach

A chunky little heart, this did take longer to work because it was so solid but just look at the colours in that, and that was with no special treatment.

Silver Aqua

This is a fab rod, it is a silvery blue with pale blue lines running the length of the rod, this little squish and pull  pendant was easy to work because it was thinner and the lines give a great effect. I can see this glass still has a lot more to give.

Scarlet Pink

You can see from this little dancing flame that although he just has a twist in his belly it also looks as if he has colour in his feet and up his arms, its all just colour reflection.

Same glass but just look at that beautiful marbling and that fab cranberry colour it has flashed to in the bail.

Purple Thunder

Another easy to work glass, this pendant took longer because it was so solid but those wispy colours are really very divine and so easy to make happen.

Exotic Citrus Yellow

I suspect this one can do an awful lot more but I really did like this true citrus colour.

Exotic Citrus Grapefruit

Another dancing flame, he only has a hat and a little in his belly but there is colour all over the place on him, the hat which stayed unencased has turned all sorts of different colours in relation to the encased belly.

I would like to point out I am not a professional nor am I a newbie but I am new to boro and I thought others would be interested to read how a fellow newbie got on.

And as for thinking outside the box..........well, a little bit of latticework to show you just how big you can go

This is seven inches wide and is titled An Improbable Bead

And this piece called last of the tulips is six inches


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 07:25:33 PM »
Fantastic info and great pieces of glasswork Tan. I have quite a stash of boro and specifically bought my Phantom for working with it but sadly my shed is so small if I run both flames I would set fire to the shed! I do love boro and I haven't tried it using just the Lynx inner fire so I think I need to wash the dust off my glass, fire up my patience and try again. Thanks for the inspiration :)


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2011, 07:31:54 PM »
Ah thanks flower, I was a bit nervous about posting ;D


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2011, 08:24:29 PM »
This is a stunning review thank you Tan. I've never been tempted by Boro until now - I thought that one oxy and a Minor would never be enough fire power!


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2011, 08:38:24 PM »
This is just a fantastic review, I do hope it makes more people try this very alluring glass :)


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 10:20:49 PM »
Oh my!!...that is such a lovely write up!!...I bought my mega minor with the knowledge that I would someday want to have a play with boro!...and the guy who sells half brilliant.
Thanks everso...gxxx


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2011, 11:24:40 PM »
Excellent Tan - and thanks for showing the rods as well.  I just adore your dancing jester and Last of the Tulips.


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2011, 11:36:17 PM »
Tan.    Tan, Tan, Tan...

You are truly FABULOUS! That's a really interesting read, great pics and WOW....just WOW!! on those creations, especially the fretwork/lacework/improbable ones. Blimey!



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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011, 08:18:25 AM »
Thankyou so much girls, I am so relieved that no one has rocked up and shouted NUMPTY at me ;D


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Re: HOw to work borosilicate on one oxycon.
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2011, 08:51:53 AM »
My goodness - what a thread full of knowledge!
thanks Tan, a truly fascinating read