Every so often I do a major clean of my work surface. It’s always a bit of a hassle, as I have a lot of bits and pieces of glass laying around, and with living in Malta, everything gets covered by a layer of limestone dust pretty quickly. But, I do love when it’s all clean and sparkly, and thought I’d share my latest tidyup with you.Jenefer Ham's work surface, all tidy!

So, what’ve we got? There’s my torch (a Nortel Minor) front and center, held on to the table with a big ole clamp. I do not even want to consider what would happen if the torch tipped off the table while lit! And it’s especially important because I’ve raised it by putting tuna cans under it, so I can keep my wrists straight while working. So yep, it’s secured to the table quite firmly!

I also have a Creation Station (which I bought about a decade ago from Austin Blue Moon Glassworks, they are such lovely people!) which I love because it gives me a place to rest my elbows comfortably and those foam handlebar-thingies can be roated up to provide a place to rest my hand when I’m working with stringers. Makes precision placement much easier! I got the leather beanbags as well, and so happy I did, they give a very welcome extra cushiness.

The hoses you see are for the torch’s fuel…the greyish one goes to my oxygen concentrator, which is a reconditioned medical unit, and the orange hose goes outside to the propane tank.

What else? Well there are today’s colors of glass rods ready to go on the right, and a bunch more standing clean and ready over to the left. There are a bunch of stringers poking up all over the place. I like to pull my own stringers, it lets me combine colors and get just the right diameter of glass. You can see I’ve got a bunch of tools for poking and pinching and prodding at the glass…one of the great things about lampworking versus kiln forming. You really get to boss molten glass around, whereas with kiln forming, you get to cut it and arrange it, but then you don’t really do anything more with it until it’s cooled back down to room temperature…whereupon you get to manhandle it to your heart’s content with grinding tools and sandblasters, but…it’s not the same as forming it when hot.

In the background on the left you can see the purple and pink rods sitting in a pretty sagey-green mug. Alas, I clonked this mug into the microwave a couple weeks ago (it is a big mug and we have a small microwave!) and broke it, but I love it so much I superglued it back together and put it into service holding rods. They don’t need watertightness! And someday, I’m going to do some mosaic work with all the broken pottery I’ve amassed over the years. I love finding unique pottery (every trip we take I try to find a hand-made mug as a souvenir). And I love using them. Sometimes a piece gets broken…but I won’t just leave my pretties sitting in a cupboard never getting any use. No. I think one must use the beautiful things one has, even if they occasionally get broken. I now have a doily my grandmother made as a young woman which sat around her whole life in a drawer with a bunch of other doileys (she called them her fancies). It was pristine when I received it and while I appreciate her gorgeous craftsmenship, and that it survived for me to appreciate, I’d have rather have gotten one that was a bit tatty but which she’d used and enjoyed herself. But I digress…

What else we got? There’s a Crunchy peanut butter jar, filled with water, which is what I use for my quench jar (into which go beads which are beyond hope, or tools which must be cooled). Then there are more tuna cans as risers for my graphite surface. Who knew tuna cans were so Ergonomic! Oh, and another tuna can near the PB jar to catch the hot bits I tweeze off the ends of rods (if not, the cut edge of the rod can leave a scummy line on my beads, and we’re certainly not having any scummy marks!) One beadmaker I know has saved all her tweezed bits over the years and it’s such a pretty and bright collection that I was inspired to do the same thing.

Lastly we’ve got the reflection of the lights on the super-clean burn-proof surface. Oh how nice that is…no grittiness from the limestone dust, no pings of glass, no little tails of left-over stringer, no grey rinds of bead release (which occasionally cracks off the mandrel if I’ve manipulated the glass when it’s too cold)…in essence, cleanliness.


tidied up! A tour of my workspace while it’s clean…

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