I’ve been delightfully busy this week working on a commission. It’s my biggest lampworking challenge to date, and I’ve kinda put blinders on as I am trying to make them as similar as possible so I don’t want to make any other pieces until I’m finished so my hands will remember the weight and process of the pieces in this set. I’m now about 75% done. Yay! But then…my flame darkens, and weakens…I keep turning up the gas so I can finish the piece I’m working on…just a little more, ok, now let there be enough to put on the head, yes…shape the head, yes! (by now I’ve turned the gas dial so it’s fully open)… give the piece a couple rotations in my flame which is shrinking by the second (to equalize the temperature on the marker’s surface) and quick quick: into the kiln! Whew!
I go outside to my tank and lift it, yep it’s pretty light, but I scoot it into the sunshine because I know gas doesn’t flow well when the tank’s cold. And it gets cold because it’s being used. When I first started lampworking I’d use the canisters you could buy at Home Depot which were the size of a big can of hairspray, and those got really, really cold, but once they warmed up again, they still had lots of gas in them. This was back when Rahdo and I were homeless! Well, we were on the road, and technically without a home because all our household goods (and my kiln & raw glass) were packed in a container bound for England, and we’d left our house in Austin. In fact, that was exactly 10 years ago today. Halloween 2004. Wow, that’s a coincidence. Anyway, the plan was a leisurely drive to New York, and we had some time to see the sights (New Orleans, North Carolina, Corning) because we were awaiting his work permit, which we needed (or thought we did) before we could fly to England and begin our foreign adventures. We expected it’d be 4 weeks or thereabouts, so I’d packed my small rolling suitcase with my torch, a nice selection of glass and a few tools, and gas canisters were easily available. But I digress…let’s get back to Malta…
I go inside and make a cup of tea, and I think, well, maybe the tank’s warmed up enough that I might have enough gas for one more. I fire up the torch and start to wind on the glass, and it’s pretty clear it’s not going to happen. I round out what becomes a little spacer bead, and then pttttht, my ever shrinking flame goes out. Yeah, I’m definitely out of gas.
Living on Malta is lovely in many ways, but being able to buy what you want, when you need it, is not one of its strong points. If you don’t want a peek into Malta life skip the next three paragraphs and we’ll get back to the important Gleepley questions of the day…
Liquigas which is the company that supplies propane and natural gas canisters here. The usual way to replenish your gas is to flag down the gas truck, they carry probably about 100 canisters, and their job is to drive around the islands on a somewhat regular schedule and give a mighty honk as they enter neighborhoods. In my area they are around on Friday, but I didn’t know I was going to run out this morning, so hadn’t been listening for its horn (the bakery van, fish monger and veggie van also announce their presence by honking their horns) so am not sure if the Liquigas guy has already driven by.
So I get on the phone to the main office which is at the south end of Malta (pretty much as far away from me as is possible since we are on the far north of the northest island) and ask if they can give me the number of my area’s truck so I can call and find out where they are and if they’re still nearby. Well, no they can’t give out those numbers. Can they tell me where the truck is? No. Can they tell me if the truck even has propane on it today? No. Can I leave my number for the driver to call me back. Sure, but it’ll probably be next week sometime before they get back to me. Is there any fixed point (store!) where I can go buy a canister? No.
So, I have a little chuckle at my outlandish American expectations…I mean, really, attempting to buy a canister of propane from someone who is in the business of selling them, who does that? … and take a nice deep breath. With the laugh still in my voice, I say that I just want to buy their product, can they please help me do that? My plea works, and they decide they CAN give me the number of the lead truck guy. Hoooray! Victory! So I call him and eventually get though. Alas, he doesn’t have propane, you must order that in advance. So I ask if he can have a canister for me tomorrow, and I’ll come get it wherever he is. He gives me the general area where he’ll be, and I think we have an agreement, so hopefully it will be there for me tomorrow morning.
So, in the meanwhile, I can’t proceed further on my big project, nor any of the other orders that have come in this week. Boo. But I’ve been thinking about Gleeple fasteners a lot, and this gives me some time to go play with wire, and beads on the wire. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with. I’d love to hear feedback about these designs (you can click on them to see them larger):
|bead on cord||bead on cord||bead on bail|
|and how they look with their Gleeples attached|
|and now, a poll =)
Comments very welcome and appreciated =)