Hello, My name is Christina Nixon Cole, and I torch my art.

I'm a glass, micromosaic and silver jewelry artist. Welcome!

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Photography for Lampworking

Photography for jewelry on a medium budget.

After struggling for years with photography and lighting, I finally figured it out.  I admit, I am not the best photographer, but having the proper tools to do the job is a game changer.

When I purchased a good DSLR camera, my sales went up.

1. Camera
Get yourself a decent DSLR camera.  Yes, you can use a point and shoot, but I prefer using a macro lens so I can get the detail of the bead.  Cannon or Nikon are great, for simplicity, just pick one and stick with it.

2. Lighting
You can go the professional route and pay for expensive equipment or you can do what some of us jewelry artists do.  Use regular lights, I use the kind that clamp to the table, this way I can move them around for the proper lighting angles.  I have about 4 lights.  One on each side, one on top, and one in front.  I add extra paper to diffuse the light so there aren't any hot spots.  Be sure to dome the paper so it doesn't touch the bulb and get hot.

I have optional back lighting under the light tent.  More below.

Buy DAYLIGHT bulbs.  Get the 8 pack.  I've had a couple break, and it sucks if you are out of the bulbs and need it for a shoot.

3.  Backdrop
I use several things. 
A. Plexiglass; it can be shiny, matt, gray, white, black, color of choice, translucent.
My plexiglass is translucent white so the lights under neath illuminate the glass from below.  Be sure not to scratch it.
Find it at your local plastic supply store or Amazon.

B.  Fabric
Find a fabric that matches your brand or feel.  Silky, vintage, pattern, organza, etc.  I would personally stay away from a crazy pattern.

C.  Props
Your hand, book, shell, rock, etc.  Something that can help brand your photo skills.  Don't use anything distracting, you are selling your jewelry, not your prop.

D.  Light Tent
Get a big one.  Even though it is jewelry and is small, get a big tent.  Mine is about 34 inches tall.  Big enough for me to put my upper body inside so I can arrange the jewelry.  It allows me to take multiple angles with minimal exposure to the corners of the tent or edge of the prop or plexiglass.
Mine can be folded down to about 1' x 1' x 2".  And when you want to set it up, it takes 2 seconds to pop open.

E.  Tripod
Get a decent tripod that has smooth movement.  It's annoying when you want to move it just a fraction of an inch, and it sticks and then moves too much.  
Make sure it has all the angles for you to tilt the camera.
Make sure it can extend really tall so you can take images from really high, you may need a step stool.
Get an extra camera mount - just in case.  If you lose it, and don't have time to look for it, you are out of luck.
Something like this may work, but I suggest going to the store to test them out.

F.  Shutter release
For longer exposures you are going to need a shutter release or use the camera timer.  But if you are going to take 100 photos, you don't want to wait additional seconds each time. 
They come with a wire or wireless.  This is what I have, and I never lose it.  I have it rubber banded to the handle.

Images without a light box.

 Images with a light box:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lampworking Safety Tips by Christina Nixon Cole

Torched Art Safety Tips by Christina Nixon Cole

     Health and safety is a big concern in the glass industry.  It is very important to know and learn all precautions to avoid injury.  By using your common sense, pacing yourself and staying alert, injury is highly reduced.  I don’t want to scare you off, but it is necessary to educate you in all areas of lampworking.  You will be working with glass that is 2,000 degrees hot.  But is well worth it and super fun!!!

Hair: Tie back long hair and avoid flammable hair products such as hair spray.

Nails and Accessories:  Nails should be within reasonable working length.  Synthetic nails have a higher chance of burning. 
    Remove all accessories such as rings, bracelets etc.  If hot glass should land on you, the jewelry can trap it and possibly conduct the heat.

Clothing: Wear natural fibers such as cotton clothes and closed toe leather shoes.  Avoid wearing clothing with large pockets and cuffs or anything that can catch on equipment or dangle in the flame.  This includes necklaces and hair. Cover your lap with an apron, long shorts or pants.  Use a leather glove to load the kiln.  Put on your "play clothes".

Eye Protection:  Didymium lenses are obsolete, AUR 92 or ACE 202 and other special glasses filter out infrared, ultraviolet light, and sodium flare, the bright yellow light.  Use boro glasses for hotter glass.  Reading glasses can be worn under the glasses and there are clip-ons available.  Table mounted shields are nice too.  Always use eye protection when cold working.  Buy the best eye protection you can afford.

Torch: The torch must be screwed or clamped to a sturdy table, never reach across the open flame, keep children and pets away from torch and hot glass.  When not in use, turn off the torch.  Remember that the tip is still hot for several minutes after turned off. 
Lighting and turning off the torch: POOP = propane-oxygen, oxygen-propane
Red=Fire=Propane / Green=Go=Oxygen

Hoses:  Connect to regulators and torch securely (no air leakage). Check leaks with soapy suds from a water bottle. Keep the hoses off the ground to avoid tripping and exposure to possible hot glass.  Relieve the pressure from the hoses when done using the torch at the end of the day.

Tanks:  Secure to a wall unable to fall or roll around.  Place caps on and secure while traveling.  Do not let propane tank fall over, the valve will leak.  Never use oil to lubricate.  Do not leave tanks inside hot space or car.  Propane MUST always be stored outside.  Natural gas is cleaner, cheaper and safer.

Kiln:  It is very hot inside and can be hot outside too.  Use a leather glove to set items into kiln.  Don't leave the door open for more than a few seconds.  Avoid touching your hot glass to anything else in the kiln as it may stick to something or dent your work.  Wait for the kiln to be cool enough to the touch before opening the door and or taking the glass out.

Ventilation:  Lampworking can produce many things to be aware of; gasses, vapors, fumes, flare off, mists, dusts, carbon monoxide.  A ventilation system, respirator, home carbon monoxide and smoke detector, fire extinguisher are mandatory.  For temporary use, have a cross breeze with a powerful fan and two open windows at minimum.  Install proper ventilation for a more permanent set up.  Silicosis is a dangerous disease of the lungs caused by inhalation of tiny sharp edged particles that can’t leave the lungs.  Remove, Replace, Circulate.  Caution if pregnant.

Burns:  Be conscious where the flame is, place hot glass and tool ends away from your body, elevate ends to avoid burning the table or other objects.  Run a burn under mild cold water until warmth is gone.  Apply medication and bandage.  Never use ice or butter, it will re-burn the burn.  Never put glass in your mouth.  Always have first aid kit and fire extinguisher available.  Tell your instructor about your injury and let instructor help.  You can use:  lavender oil, aloevera, Tofu, Burn Medicine, Biogauze, Silvadine, Ching Wan Hung, homeopathic Calendula Gel, etc.

Cuts & Slivers:
  Avoid sharp ends of the glass rods, keep work area clean, sweep floor to avoid tracking into other areas of the work place or home.  Never use your bare hands to sweep.  Never walk with bare feet in area where glass can land. Be sure to get glass sliver out ASAP, don’t let it heal over.  Black Salve aka drawing salve can help get it out.

Sunburn:  The torch flame produces a very intense source for UV light.  Be sure to use sun screen, you don't want a "raccoon" face.

Dehydration:  Drink plenty of water.  The flame surprisingly dehydrates you and your skin.  Avoid coffee, sodas etc. as they are dehydrators.

Stretch:  It is helpful to stretch and warm your body up to keep alert and to avoid cramping in the back, neck and shoulders.  The nerves in the neck lead directly to the hands, if your hands shake, stretch your neck.

Sober:  Never work under the influence of any drugs or alcohol…especially in my class.  If I have any reason to believe that you are under the influence, I reserve the right to dismiss you from using the torch or being in the class room without refund.

Work Area:
  Keep your work area free of flammables such as papers and plastics.  Make sure pets, small kids and mindless people are safe from the glass and open flame.  Keep first aid kit and fire extinguisher near by.  Always have ventilation.

For more safety information:   http://www.isgb.org/education/standards.shtml

I have read and understand the material on this page and still wish to continue knowing that there is a possibility of injury.  I also understand that these are the basic safety tips and I am aware there is more safety information available to me online or in books.  I hereby agree to assume all risks and to fully release and waive all claims against Torched Art, Christina Nixon Cole, and the owner of the real property upon which this glass class is conducted, arising out of, or resulting from any glass class or instruction given by or under the supervision of Christina Nixon Cole or the business owner.  PARENT/GUARDIAN SIGNATURE REQUIRED IF UNDER THE AGE OF 18.

STUDENT SIGNATURE_________________________________________________DATE________________                      

INSTRUCTOR SIGNATURE_____________________________________________DATE____________________

Christina Nixon Cole has been lampworking since 1996 and teaching since 2000.  Please see her classes page to find a list of fun classes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Silver foil and Silver leaf

I'm teaching an 8 week class at Stone and Glass at the Bernardo Winery in San Diego, California.  One day will be focused on the techniques of applying fine silver to the lampwork beads.

Fine Silver Foil vs Leaf
Now this will be something to be very aware of.  One is much thicker and more user friendly than the other.  Silver foil is thick and silver leaf is thin.  A good way to remember this is to think of a leaf fluttering in the wind, and this is basically what it does.  It also sticks to your fingers and tares too easily when handling it.  Foil is more sturdy like tin foil.  You can handle it with your bare fingers, use tweezers, and it doesn't blow away as easy as the leaf does.  For the most part, the foil and leaf do have about the same amount of coverage, but why not pay the extra couple bucks for your sanity.

Here are some links where to buy leaf and foil:

Arrow Springs
Frantz Art Glass

Saturday, November 17, 2012

After much hard work and branding, I would like to introduce my sister site for my glass beads.

Together Again Memory Beads is where you can order custom beads to remember your loved ones.  Infusing cremains or hair into the glass to create a memory keepsake to wear near and dear to your heart.

A variety of shapes, sizes, colors and designs are available to represent your love for the dearly departed.  Custom requests are welcome as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How much glass should a begining beadmaker buy?

If you are starting up your own lampworking workshop, there are a lot of things to consider purchasing.  Glass is certainly only one factor.

I primarily work with 104 glass.  This blog is only about 104 glass unless it is otherwise mentioned.

Coefficient of Expansion (COE): 104
Annealing range: 920 - 968º F
Strain Point: 840º F
Softening point: 1050º F
Working Temperature: 1400º F

-Typically the glass rods come in 13 inch rods.  
-They are usually the thickness of a pencil, 5-6 mm.  
-You would get 7 - 8 rods in one pound.  
-You can order it in 1/4 lb increments. 
-Some shops sell by the single rod.
-you can order stringer 2-3 mm in many colors.
-You can order thicker rods up to 10-11, or 14-15 mm.
-104 can be ordered in sheet as well.
-Glow in the dark is available at GlowJoe.

Just to get started, I encourage you to get a sample pack of glass.  Now, there are several sample packs available, start with the basics and as you learn all your lessons with the basic colors, go ahead and move on to other glass.   Don't waste your $$ on expensive glass when you are still learning how not to burn, boil, crack, etc. your glass.

Sample Pack:
Double Helix for intermediate users
Precision for intermediate users

If you want silvered glass in stringers here is an etsy shop.

Don't worry yet about the other fancy stuff like filigrina, it will just be shocky and end up on your table.  Learn that stuff later.

Get more of the basic colors.

Vetrofond: black, white, some of your favorite transparent colors and opaque colors
Effetre: super clear, some of your favorite transparent colors and opaque colors, dark ivory.

I suggest if you are going to work with COE 104, use Vetrofond and Effetre.  CIM is pretty awesome too!!!

Here is the rundown of COE 104 glass manufacturers:

Lauscha - German glass
Messy Color (CiM) - Chinese glass - yummy
Vetrofond - Italian - inexpensive and good for stocking your shelves
Effetre (formerly Moretti) - Italian - good for some main staples like Dark Ivory and Super Clear.
Kugler (ASK) - German?  Can have compatibility issues - pretty colors.
Double Helix - Reactive Silver Glass - made in USA - expensive
Precision - Reactive Silver glass - expensive
Reichenbach  - Reactive glass - Iris Orange or Raku is a popular one
Trautman Art Glass (TAG)- Reactive Silver glass - Expensive
Devardi - Indian glass - pretty colors - very shocky - not for beginners

And here is where you can purchase your glass:


Here is a link to who are the best suppliers.

Other glass:
Let's start with COE, Coefficiency Of Expansion.  When glass is hot it expands, and when it cools from the liquid state it contracts.  If the glass is not compatible there will be stress and cause it to break.

"This rate, which is commonly known as the Coefficient of Expansion (COE), is usually expressed as a whole number, rather than as a long decimal figure. Most Bullseye glass, for example, is said to have a Coefficient of Expansion of 90, and you will often hear glass artists refer to it as COE90 glass. Spectrum, another common glass, has a COE of around 96, while Corning’s Pyrex glassware has a 32 COE. Standard window glass, referred to as "float" glass by the glassmaking community, has a COE that is usually around 84-87, while Effetre (Moretti) glass, commonly used for lampworking, has a 104 COE."  cited from http://www.warmglass.com/Glass_compatibility.htm

More 104
Frit is used to embellish glass.  It is basically a little jar of crushed glass, it comes very fine like powder, or sand to coarse like gravel.  Frit can be made of one color or of multiple colors creating different recipies.  Some frit can glow, while other frit can be made from silver glass.