On a recent trip to southern Utah I took a detour and stopped at Mystic Hot Springs, a small resort that’s owned by a lampworker. Not only was I fortunate enough to meet a fellow lampworker, but I got to watch him work as he demonstrated how to make a vortex turtle. This was pretty fascinating for me because Mike works in boro, something I’ve never done, and works off mandrel, something I’m not very good at.
I’ve had the impression that boro workers often use different techniques than I’m not accustomed to using. Watching Mike work confirmed this for me.
The first thing he did was pick up a piece of 3/4 inch diameter boro puntied up to a thinner piece. I’ve never considered working such a a big diameter piece of glass; I can see how it makes the vortex a lot easier than then skinny rods I usually work with. He transferred his piece between punties a few times, another skill I haven’t become too adept at.
I was then fascinated with how he created his loop. Whenever I’ve tried to create a loop I’ve melted and stretched the glass trying to free form sculpt the loop. He made a large raised dot, flattened it, then used a tungsten pick and graphite reamer to put the hole through the glass. Yet another technique I’ve never tried. It was a lot of fun to watch some else work, and observe how he worked the glass in the flame. I can see how using the low COE, less shocky glass gives you freedom to do things that I could never do with soft glass; his pendant didn’t need the constant dance in the flame that pieces do.
One of these days I’d like to try boro. Long ago I bought a small sample package, but it has been languishing in my studio waiting for the day I get brave and try to use it. I have to admit I have a bit of fear of boro, fear it may be frustrating, and fear I may actually like it, and will then have yet another passion to work into my limited creative time.
Perhaps my impromptu vacation time boro lesson will inspire me to try something new, either using new glass or applying some of those techniques to my soft glass work. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Linda beads and blogs from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah!