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Northstar Colored Tubing
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Color Certification Class
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Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
Alchemy’s Color Certification Class

Reviews — Alchemy’s Color Certification Class
October 2008

Having just returned from the Portland, Oregon home of Glass Alchemy Arts Ltd. after attending Alchemy’s Color Certification class; I found the owners, Susan and Henry’s hospitality outstanding. The hotel nearby provided a quick shuttle to and from the airport, and classes, the staff was friendly; the rooms were probably the cleanest I’ve encountered, and included a decent breakfast. The room rate was a bit high for the average artist, but the entire experience was a nice getaway and fun.

Susan greeted us with a big smile. Inside we first encounter Alchemy’s art donated by the individuals they have inspired. We are ushered past the color rods that will be available for purchase at the end of the class, we settle in the lunch room greeted by coffee, water, fruit and cookies. Henry proceeds to distribute three ring binders with our copies of the official GA color system information, including user’s guides.

We then toured the warehouse, along the way we met a few employees, and had the opportunity to see pots of color being drawn into almost perfect 7 mm rods, cut and stacked into 20” pieces. Henry explained that they design and build almost all of their kilns and machinery in house. We are shown the quality control area, the stock on hand, and the torch/ research area. It really is amazing that they are willing to offer us a look inside.

A neutral flame equals control with the exception of some colors that are made to be uncontrollable. Unlike other color company’s that just want to sell you color, Alchemy wants to teach you how to maximize the potential of the palette you already have in your shop.

We began by discussing how to recognize neutral flame characteristics, how to test for, and achieve a neutral flame. In the lamp-working industry there is a lot of confusion about reducing and oxidizing flames, and how to re-create desired color characteristics. This is mostly due to the infancy of borosilicate lamp-working as a whole, and a lack of technical training. Most of us simply learned how to blow glass, before we learned why certain reactions happen, and how to replicate them. When we asked why, we would get a wide variety of answers, most of which were peoples most educated guesses.

The overall concept is to work your piece in a neutral to oxidizing flame while shaping, to avoid color reducing, or premature formation of crystalline growth, causing color change. Then if you choose you can call the metals to the surface, in the flame or kiln strike for deeper colors. The outcome is greatly affected by garaging at high temperature, or over annealing by the artist, which can lead to phase separation, among other problems. This class presents the most ideal parameters for controlling color with ease.

Now thanks to Henry, and his team at Glass Alchemy, Mike Plane and others in the industry, there is a system in place that will help you determine why, and how certain reactions occur. This system will give you step by step guidance allowing you to re-create that perfect amber purple from silver colors. Keep your crayon series vibrant; keep rubies from livering, and cobalt’s from graying.

GA’s user’s guide is available free for down load on their Web site
Glass Alchemy Arts

Alchemy’s next great innovation is still currently in the works. They have plans to create a trouble shooting chart to help us determine step by step the most likely cause of a break, or color change. This will help us develop our deduction skills, and implementation of the Alchemy color system when it comes to our creations.

Non scientific lamp-working has needed to establish industry standards for a while now. I believe this color system will add legitimacy and consistency industry wide.

We also covered proper equipment, heat protection, health, and ventilation concerns. I have been lamp-working for 9 years; this is my second time attending the class. Most of the information wasn’t new to me, but my perspective was. This class solidified a lot of concepts for me. I would recommend that lamp workers of all experience levels consider taking Alchemy’s color class, and integrating Alchemy’s color system into your repertoire.

As we said our goodbye’s, we had an opportunity to purchase the newest Alchemy clothing, and color. New connections were made, and the seed of inspiration was planted. I believe Glass Alchemy has positively raised the bar, and borosilicate will be forever changed. So thank you to everyone who has made it  possible!


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