This update files under prototypes and there is also some bit of this that is a metaphor for life or something like that. The main crux is this: I may not know what I am doing, but that is not going to stop me.
This is the Armadillo Works, the barn I work out of sometimes. I operate on a sort of distributed shop model. I have the Works out in the country, and it is really large and is far from anyone who would care what I am up to (no real code or anything that far out). I also borrow space from my friend (also a designer, my former professor, and landlord) Mike. I use the school's shop. I work in my office, and my friend and mentor Dave lends me his garage. It really depends on an equation of space, facilities, time, and the nature of what I am doing. In this case, I was down on the farm for Thanksgiving and wanted to work on the glass ball. I attempted to have it made- and I will eventually need that- but it is too expensive for what I am trying to learn at this point.
I don't work in glass. It has never been my thing, so I don't have any experience with it. Making a hollow sphere out of glass seems like it would be a bit beyond what I can do, so I bought a round bottom boiling flask. It's practically a ball already and it was cheap. All I needed to do was remove the neck. I have a glass cutter, but it is really meant for normal glass like a bottle or a window pane. Scientific glass is pyrex. It takes a higher temperature and it is hard, much too hard for my cutter. There is a lot of chemistry and physics missing, but that is only because I don't know it. I did some reading, but I am so far from an expert, I am not going to relay incorrect information. If you want more information, I would ask the Google and then visit a library.
I remember bending glass rod in chemistry class in high school, and we just used a torch. I have seen glass being made and it really seems to be about heat, so I decided I would heat the neck up and try to push through the glass, essentially using a torch to make it liquid and then cutting it off. That plan might actually work, but it didn't work for me. I couldn't get the thing in my lathe, and I didn't have any oxyacetylene so it was just mapp and a vise. What I did was deform the surface and mess around with the stress levels in the glass. So, when I walked away for a second, the neck broke itself. That was a bunch of setbacks, but I press on.
I stopped by American Science and Surplus (so much fun) and got a couple more flasks. Then I experimented in my kitchen. I managed to get a cut in the glass this time, but I still couldn't anneal the glass effectively, so that failed too. I prepared for more tests by watching youtube videos and reading forums, but I didn't get far. Instead, I went to school and asked Ed.
We live in a really amazing time. Everyone says that and it is always true, but what I mean specifically is that we have information available that can turn us into super-humans. All we need these days is a "can do" attitude. If you are motivated, you can get what you need to do what you want to do. It won't replace craft, but it will set you on the path. I am also not just talking about the internet. That is the obvious thing to do: ask the Google. You can also join a community, and that is huge. Community used to mean geographic proximity. You didn't really get a choice in your community until you became mobile. Now, though, communities are self-selecting and interest-based. Go onto any forum and ask what you want to know, and there will be a conversation filled with information. The other thing we have is each other. I can't remember the last time someone didn't give me the information I asked for. When I want to know something, I ask someone. Don't discount that. I am calling it the Ed Effect.
When I went to school, I talked to Ed Koizumi. He manages our shop space and if you look him up, you will see he also did amazing things in models and prototypes. He is a wealth of knowledge and he is a generous person (nice qualities when you work at an institution of higher learning). I asked about cutting pyrex and two days later, we cut the necks off some flasks.
The method for cutting is pretty cool. Like most glass bottle cutting methods, it relies on changing the stress inside of the glass. First, you need to etch the surface. Then, you use a hot wire to heat the glass locally and, while the wire is still in place, use a drop of water to quickly change the temperature. This difference causes the glass to crack. It isn't always a super easy process, but it does work.
From here, I am going to grind down the remaining neck and then proceed with phase two. In my original model, I had a sort of inverted neck with the intention of having the inside of the ball remain a mystery. Since I am now working in glass, I am playing with the idea of a copper or brass inverted neck. It will be more visible, but that could work in my favor. A magic trick is always seemingly obvious, the joy coming from an unexpected result. It also reinforces the purity of the material choice. We shall have to see what comes from it.
That's it for today. As always, stay tuned.