Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clean, clear glass for your lampwork glass beads

Sometimes things just seem to come together- like when I was listening to Abbey Road while doing my high school English assignment and realized that the Beatles had used an old English poem in one of their songs (Golden Slumbers). Got my class out of a whole day of work when I brought it along to school! Woo-hoo!

The same thing happened when I saw this information about making your clear glass really clear posted on facebook by Patty Frantz:

Now normally, this would just go to the back of my brain, because I am not likely to want to have any sodium bisulfate lying around. But then I mentioned it in passing to the man I live with, and he thought I was talking about dill pickles. And THAT reminded me about a library book I had been looking through that mentioned a homemade metal pickling compound made with vinegar.

So I went in search of that info on the internet and ended up here:
Please read through this for much more specific info about the pickling solution.

Now I had all the information I needed. Would it be possible to make my own pickling solution, use it on my glass per Patty's instructions, and end up with a beautiful clear glass? I think the answer is 'yes!' I tried it out and am very happy with the results. Please do read Patty's information- you use this the same way she suggested in her article, but this is a non-toxic solution.

First- about your safety- you are responsible for that. I am not saying any of this is safe or recommended by the AMA or the fire department!
Here's what I did-

1) Used recipe from 'I dream I can fly away'- 1 cup vinegar to 1 Tbl. salt- heated in a non-reactive (ceramic-lined cast iron a la le creuset) pot to the steaming point, stirred until the salt dissolves. I wouldn't boil this stuff.
2) Let solution cool to about 140 degrees. I put the clear and transparent rods into a 15x9 pyrex pan and poured the solution over them. Don't pour it over when it's too hot, or the rods may crack. The clear I am using for this is Moretti #006. All the transparent colors are also Moretti.

3) Put that into an oven that is set to about 150 degrees. I left the door open so it wouldn't get too hot for about 15-20 minutes.
4) Took the rods out and rinsed in tepid water to remove the salt. Handle the rods carefully or use gloves so that the rods don't get oils from your hands on them.
5) Stood the rods upright to dry on a couple of paper towels.

That's it. When the rods were dry, since I didn't have gloves, I picked them up using a plastic grocery bag, bundled them according to color using twist ties, and put them into plastic bags to try and keep all the dust from my house from getting on them. That is the next challenge- how to keep the rods clean!
You can keep this stuff in a non-reactive container and reuse it. Though I haven't tried it, it seems you can also 'refresh' it by adding extra vinegar. And when you do dispose of it, it should be neutralized with baking soda.

Yes, you still need to clean with 91% alcohol to get all those nasty fingerprints off, and you may still need to pull a bit of smutz off the tip from time to time. But this is definitely worth the time it takes- which is not much. Now I can encase without fear- if I could just do it without smear!

Here are couple of the beads made with my newly cleaned clear. I normally don't even bother with this tyype of bead because of the smutz factor. With that problem out of the way, maybe I'll finally get down to the business of learning to encase properly!
A very special thank you to Patty Frantz and to Jo Hollingsworth- you two rock! And thanks to Larry Scott, who told Patty about this to begin with.


Lara Lutrick said...

Very cool already in my home items. I may try this for sure.


Islandgirl said...

The coolest temp on my oven is 170! I probably should try this as I'm always whining about scum on my clear ... I think most of it's in the glass....

What kind of salt did you use table, pickling or kosher, they are all different?


Lea Avroch said...

Excellent tips Laurie! Even though I clean my glass before putting it away, I find that it gets lots of dust on it. Does it still pay to pickle 1st I wonder? I mean, I do wipe it down each time before use.

Kathe Lewis said...

I did it with a 10% solution of sulphuric acid, this is used for pickling metals like Sparex. I am goldsmith and always have a sulph.acid bath anyway.
I works wonders! I left my rods in the handwarm pickle for about an hour, rinsed and dry. Wipe them with a spirit cloth just before using.
Even the Effetre 004 is clear as anything!
Laurie, I have some questions, can we mail?
Kathe, Denmark

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Sorry, I have not been reading the comments! Lynne- I used table salt. Well it was probably sea salt!
Lea- I do think it is worthwhile. I'm just not getting anywhere near the smutz I used to- a quick wipe, maybe a little bit pulled off the tip, and I'm good to go.
Kathe- I'm going to try and find you!

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Kathe- I can't figure out how to contact you!
If you come here looking- go to my etsy shop- and send me a conversation.