Fuming

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Summary

Fuming is a lamp working (glass blowing) technique, in which solid silver or gold is turned into a vapor by being placing in the flame of your torch. The silver/gold vapor then condenses onto the glass held further out in the flame and appears as a patina ranging in colours from blue, pink, white (from silver) to orange,green or red (from gold). The range of colours and opacity can be varied depending on how much fume (vaporized metal) is deposited onto the glass and how the then fumed glass is worked in the flame afterwards.

Technique

  • Precut small pieces (3mm) of silver/gold. Place a single piece of silver/gold onto a graphite pad.
  • Heat up the end of a short length (3 to 4 inches) of 4 to 6 mm borosilicate rod till it is white hot and forms a small gather. some use a quartz rod, as it will not melt under high temp and prolong work time fuming
  • Press the hot gather onto the piece of silver/gold, smooshing the silver/gold between the gather and the graphite pad, thus pushing the silver/gold into the gather and allow to cool for a few seconds.
  • The silver/gold should have stuck to the glass, if not try again.
  • Make sure the glass that is receiving the fume has been pre-warmed so that the fume will stick to it. Do this by giving the glass a quick bath in a bushy propane flame.
  • Adjust your torch to create a very small reducing flame.
  • Hold the glass rod with the silver/gold about 1 to 2 mm past the candle tip.
  • hold the glass you want to fume out in the flame, approximately 6 inches behind the rod with the silver/gold
  • Once placed near the candle, the silver/gold will melt and start to give off the fume, sometimes this fume is visable as a smoke, other times you can not see it, but watch the glass that it is being deposited onto to notice if it is changing color. If it is not, try changing the characteristics of your flame.
  • When the glass has obtained the desired patina, set aside the short rod with the silver/gold. You can now adjust back to a normal flame and work your glass.

Variations on technique

The fume (especially silver fume) can be burned off with a neutral to oxidizing flame. Thus if you dont want to lose your fume, it is suggested that you encase the fume with additional glass (usually clear). However the patina of the fume can be changed by blasting the glass with alternating reducing and oxidising flame.

One way to change the patina is to blast the fumed glass with a bushy reducing flame, you can also hit it with alternating blasts of reducing and oxidizing to change the patina. If a layer of carbon builds up when using the bushy reducing flame, it can be safely burned off with a quick blast of an oxidizing flame, revealing the new patina underneath.

A fume can be placed either on the outside or inside surface of a tube. By fuming on the inside of a tube, the fume is more protected from being burned off as the piece is worked more in the flame.

Start with light fuming and see what effects you get. Heavier fuming of silver can create a whiteish color.

Varying the amountsof silver/gold and layering silver and gold fuming will give lots of different and interesting effects.

Sources of gold & silver

Ideally the gold or silver should be as pure as possible with a grade of .999.

You can purchase .999 grade silver and gold from gold and silver smiths and dealers. It is usually sold in wire form or in little beads called casting grains.

Alternate sources that may or may not be .999 pure are: silver or gold jewelry silver or gold coins

Safety

Always use good ventilation, and be careful to minimize your exposure to the fumes. The fumes are very poisonous.

Be careful not to spill the molten silver onto your torch face as it will clog and possibly ruin the ports.

Also wear proper eye filters the light produced while fuming can be bright, leading to blindness

Effects and Patterns

Spiral and wig wag effects can be done with just clear tube and fume in the following way. - For this example a 25mm tube is used.

Attach a 25mm tube to a 12mm blow tube and close one end of the 25mm tube.

Fume the 25mm tube with gold or silver so that it is completly covered.

Using clear 5 to 6mm rods, draw stripes of clear glass lengthwise down the tube.

Melt the stripes into the tube, puffing to keep the tube shape, doing this will burn off the fume from where it was not protected by the clear glass stripes.

You now have a striped tube that you can then use other with other techniques to make things like wigwags and spirals.


NOTE TO OTHERS - Please post more techniques here on how to achieve various effects, preferably with pictures

--Meerkat 23:02, 13 January 2007 (EST)

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