Lampwork Etc.

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Meezermom 2019-11-29 4:13pm

Question from a neophyte beadmaker
I just started making beads a few months ago using a Hothead torch and MAPP fuel in the 14 oz canisters. I have had it with my canister getting cold and my torch going out in the middle of a bead, and really, really want to move up to a better torch. I know I need oxygen and propane, and a ventilation system and am feeling very overwhelmed by all the information out there on these subjects. I am working in my garage right now with an open window beside me. This is not adequate, I realize. My question is - who can I hire to help me set up a good ventilation system? Do I contact an HVAC person? Also, what is a good beginner torch? Is it better to have an oxygen tank(s) or concentrator? I know these are a lot of ?s with probably long answers. The most important one for right now is about the ventilation. I have read about it but my eyes pretty quickly glaze over.
Thanks for any advice.

Eileen 2019-11-29 4:18pm

I don't know who to hire on the ventilation, but yes it is most important, so I hope you find someone. (My hubby did mine after I bought the extractor fan)

The Hothead will run on a bbq tank (tank needs to be outside though!!!) if you get the correct hose, so maybe you could do that for now? I went to a Minor from the Hothead, others like other torches.

Tanked oxygen is great, but in the long run more expensive than getting the oxycon. Make sure you check the hours if buying used, as my first one ran for 20 minutes or so and gave out. That was an expensive 20 minutes.

echeveria 2019-11-30 5:44am

Try an HVAC person. That is what I see a lot of people say they did.

If you do look at torches, consider GTT Bobcat or Cricket, Nortel Minor, Carlisle Mini CC, Bethlehem Alpha. All will work on a single concentrator.

Speedslug 2019-11-30 8:12am

You should probably think about paying for a consultation with an HVAC contractor.

MOST of them are not familiar with what you need and will not build you anything or run any fuel lines for you because their insurance companies won't allow them to.
If something goes wrong they don't want to get sued by your home owners insurance company.

You don't have a location listed so it's not possible to point you to any bead makers groups.

Where did you get your hothead from? Maybe that would be a source for some knowledge.

You local fire department could be a source as well.

Do you have any books yet? "Passing The Flame" is a good one that comes to mind.

Have you done the YouTube search thing to see what kind of details you can find there?

It really is a lot like learning to drive a car; There are a metric ton of details that you are going to have to get familiar with and if your eyes are glazing over then you need to take smaller bites and just try to digest one point at a time.

As for the details of your ventilation system, you only have to learn it all once for your given situation, torching plans, budget and time available.

Just how addicted to glass are you so far?
Would you say you are $200 a year addicted? $1000?

How much time do you plan on spending melting glass?
10 hours a week? A month? A day?

You only have to get it right once.
But you have to get it right, at least for your current circumstances.

When I was trying to learn what I know now I got into the habit of highlighting chunks of important information and copying it over to a draft Email that I saved with the subject line marked "Glass".
Then I could come back to that chunk once the 'glazed eyes' went away and reread it over and over until I understood everything in it.
That reduced the need to hunt things up again and again.

Just, please, remember that there is a reason why there are laws about not storing more than one or two 1 pound cans of fuel inside your house.
It can void you home owners insurance coverage even if the larger fuel tank is not involved with what ever accidents happen, like a tree falling on your roof.
And insurance companies hunt for reasons to refuse claims with every effort they can muster.

Eileen 2019-11-30 10:22am

Good point, I forgot to mention that the bbq tank needs to be outside! I will edit that!

Meezermom 2019-11-30 2:44pm

Thanks to all of you for your advice. Kathy - I initially considered hooking up a hose to my Hothead and using a BBQ tank, but I am definitely in this for the long haul, so I think I might as well upgrade the torch and do all that comes with it.
Phill - I am easily at least $1000 a year addicted. I am a physician and work some insane hours but I really look forward to coming home and firing up the ol' Hothead! Ideally, I would spend about an hour per evening making beads and more time on the weekends that I am not working. Doesn't usually work out that way but it isn't for lack of trying. The HVAC consultation is a great idea and I will do that. And good to know about the homeowner's insurance! Kathy - thanks for info on torches. There are lots of choices for those, too so it's nice to have the choices narrowed down.

Speedslug 2019-11-30 4:28pm

Well, Doctor, you already have an eye for the details so I don't need to get to far into the weeds with all the safety stuff.

Being THE safety guy my last 12 years before retiring from the US Navy it's an ingrown habit on my part.

You want to look up details about having air flow over your shoulders if you live in a drafty old house like I do.
Otherwise you want to have a dedicated source of air flow to make up for what ever room air your new ventilation system is dumping out side along with the burned fuel fumes and you want an air velocity to carry whatever heavy metal particulates used as coloring agents in the glass that are going to boil off as the glass gets molten.

Also you don't want to be pulling fumes back down the chimney or flue of your furnace or water heater so if they happen to be in your garage you will want you "make up air flow" to have dedicated duct work dumping right on to your torch bench.

Just like med school, there is just a metric ton of stuff to learn the hard way so look for recommendations on books to read and begin the slog through to the last page.

You tube has LOTS of videos and you will see a lot of stuff that is patently unsafe and a whole more that is questionable.
Trust your instincts and keep asking that famous old safety question "So, what's the worst that can happen and what if the 3 year old gets loose in here and will all this stand up to 10 years of doing the same thing over and over again.

( Oh and get an Electric Mandrel Spinner as soon as you can. If you are surgeon, you do not want to trash your wrists constantly spinning a mandrel and if yo are not you can come up to speed developing the habit and exterity of spinning the mandrel when you get board of playing with molten glass.

I have run a line off the back of my natural gas stove line to my bench in our mud room and have a used 10 LPM oxygen concentrator from Craig's List {$300 in 2009, someone was leaving the country and emptying their house}
ON the smallest GTT torch called a Cricket It puts out enough heat to do 1 inch boro but I mainly work soft glass.

You can melt Satake glass right on a bunsen burner or even the stove top and it melts like butter it's so soft.

Speedslug 2019-11-30 4:33pm

Be sure not to use acetylene torch hoses with propane fuel.
It will decompose the rubber liner and gunk up the tiny tubes in your torch.
You want to use black bar b que hose marked as "Rated T".

Please remember that propane sinks and will pool in basements and crawl spaces looking for a spark to make your day.
Natural gas rises.

Meezermom 2019-11-30 11:46pm

Thanks much again for the info. I already ordered the electric mandrel spinner. I am a radiologist and use a mouse all day long to look at scans, so I already have some wrist pain.
So an HVAC person should know about this safety stuff, right? BTW I live near Pittsburgh if you might happen to know of any resources in my area. Thanks again!

Speedslug 2019-12-01 11:53pm

Well, an HVAC person might know about this ventilation safety stuff, but I would be inclined to take some doughnuts down to the local Fire House and see if there was some one there that could give your house a safety inspection AND maybe have a conversation about your new addiction.

Small town code enforcement inspectors can probably give you some advice as well.

There really is a ton of detailed conversations here in the safety thread and a lot of "show and tell" in the studio thread as well.

Use the search this thread function just above the first post in the tread for words like barley box, garage, make up air, ventilation, cfm* ( you need to put an asterisk * at the end of 3 letter words to get the search thing to work.

And please don't let anything you read tell you that anything less than 850 cfm is safe and remember that bathroom fans { and a lot of green house fans} over state how much air volume they move.
They tend to make up their own testing methods that can prove a battery run fans qualifies as a hurricane.

Oh and you want the out put of your vent system to be at least 10 feet from where your make up air comes in.

echeveria 2019-12-02 1:50pm


Originally Posted by Meezermom (Post 5055152)
Thanks much again for the info. I already ordered the electric mandrel spinner. I am a radiologist and use a mouse all day long to look at scans, so I already have some wrist pain.
So an HVAC person should know about this safety stuff, right? BTW I live near Pittsburgh if you might happen to know of any resources in my area. Thanks again!

I don't know that an HVAC person will know any specifics about lampwork ventilation, but they should know how to plumb it with a fan that meets your specifications, point it where you want it to go and move fumes outside, and then tell you how to get your makeup air. There are, as said, a lot of threads on how to calculate your ventilation needs. Your room size is a start, and read these with the understanding that you are not going to be using a huge hot torch. But makeup air is just as critical as moving out fumes.

Eileen 2019-12-02 3:19pm

You might glean some info from here:

Lorraine Chandler 2019-12-02 5:16pm

Welcome to the bead craft. It is a disease and there is no known cure..

Rivers Glass Beadmakers is located at the address 340 Lamarido St in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15226. They can be contacted via phone at (412) 561-0248 for pricing, hours and directions. Pittsburg Glass Center . 5472 Penn Ave. 412 365-2145. Pittsburg, PA 15206

Join the ISGB. International Society Glass Bead. They have chapters all over the world. Call them and find out who the person is for the chapter that covers your area

Don't know if these are still active but it is worth a try.

3 Rivers Glass Beadmakers (upd: 06/11)
Bead Society of Bucks County/"Bucks Beaders" (upd: 09/09)
No longer meeting? Let us know.
Bead Society of Eastern Pennsylvania (upd: 06/11)
Brandywine Bead Society
No longer meeting? Let us know.
Chester County Bead Society (upd: 06/11)
Greater Philadelphia (Exton) chapter, PMC Guild (upd: 11/09)
Harrisburg Polymer Clay Guild (upd: 09/09)
Kit-Han-Ne Rock & Gem Club (upd: 11/09)
Main Line Bead Society (upd: 06/11)
OCBPA (Obsessive-Compulsive Beaders of PA) (upd: 11/09)
Penn Dragons (ISGB) (upd: 06/11)
Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths (upd: 06/11)
Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild (upd: 06/11)
Pittsburgh Jewelry Making Group (upd: 11/09)
Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild (upd: 11/09)
Susquehanna Sizzlers (S. Central PA) (upd: 11/09)
Westmoreland County Polymer Clay Guild (upd: 11/09)
Main Line Art Center (upd: 06/11)
Central Pa. Bead & Jewelry Society (upd: 06/10)
Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen (upd: 06/11)
River Queen Artisans Gallery (upd: 06/

Bentley 2019-12-05 12:23pm

Check out Andrea Gaurino-Slemmons' website. She had an excellent tutorial on making a ventilation system.

Meezermom 2019-12-06 11:06pm

Thank you all for the info. Looks like I better get busy reading!

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