TorchLife Glass Artist Community

Torch Life will not sell or distribute your e-mail to any other vendor or agency. By submitting this information you will not be put on any other mailing lists.

Northstar Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Tailor Made Tubing
Chinese Colored Tubing
Color Certification Class
Dicro Kings Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing

Reviews — Glass Alchemy Tailor Made Tubing
January 2009

Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing


Today is a great day in the world of borosilicate flameworking. I will review Glass Alchemy’s colored tubing, and show you all the details that make this a quality product. For this review I used 15 inches of the Tailor-made tubing in three separate vessels without adding a sleeve. This tubing will go very far if you choose to sleeve it heavily. Although, at a certain point, the color will begin to dissipate and become a very light ghost pattern — which may also offer some desirable effects. Anything you make with a high saturation level of silver colors under clear can be kiln struck to create beautiful halos of color.

Glass Alchemy Colored TubingThe standard tubing size is 15 inches long by 25 mm diameter with a very consistent 5 mm wall thickness. A cross section of the tube reveals 18 color rods sandwiched between two tubes. Between rods there are peaks and valleys providing depth and the traditional inside-out look. Some artists may love this about the tube while others may not. It really depends on the taste of the individual artists. If depth is a real issue, once you shape your piece and blow it out, the depth will simply disappear and become a thin coating within the tube.

Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing
Glass Alchemy Colored Tubing

To illustrate how the tube cuts, I will first attempt to cut a four-inch piece of the tubing using the thermal shock technique. To cut this tube with thermal shock you must score the tube very deep-about half way around the tube, and keep the score very wet during the thermal shock. My first attempt resulted in a jagged cut which could equate in a loss of valuable tubing. My second attempt at using thermal shock showed improved results with a cleaner cut. My third attempt to cut a four-inch piece was cut on the wet saw. This really is the preferred method of breaking down the tube into usable pieces.

As I slowly heated the end of a four-inch piece of tube, a small piece chipped off. If the tube were to break from end to end and become unusable it would be a costly mistake, so I take care to heat the tube slowly and attach a blow tube. I then garage the tube in the kiln at 980 degrees for about 15 minutes. I definitely recommend preheating this tubing in the kiln raising the core temperature before beginning to work it in the flame. While the tube is heating I will have time to do the prep work necessary for the project.

Once the core is hot it works like any other prep-work. The tubing has a consistent wall thickness with almost zero variation which yields a very consistent outcome. This tubing requires less heat to work than coil-potted color, and more than plain clear tube.

Glass Alchemy Colored TubingAnother aspect of Glass Alchemy’s tubing is that it is encased inside and out. I used this to my advantage when designing an encalmo flared cylinder which shows that the inside of the tubing looks as clean as the outside. Some techniques may be limited by the fact that the color is encased. For example, I did a “stuff n’ puff” with a small piece of solid triple-passion tube, I found that it didn’t give me the organic look that accompanies non-encased coil-potted color used to “stuff n’ puff.” Some artists may find this fact limiting, but may also offer more options because of the consistency of the color.

The fire and water patterns offer the artist the ability to do wig wags reversals, and stack multiple reversals for a “Tetris” or “Tribal” look. When using this technique some care must be taken with the tubing. If the color on one side of the tube melts very easily, and the other side of the tube is a color that is heavily saturated and works stiff, the tubing can get a little lopsided if blown out too thin. If you keep the tubing a consistent four millimeters thick, or more, it shouldn’t be a big issue.

The most limiting factor about this tubing is that it only contains colors from Glass Alchemy’s palette. If you want a specific color in your work that Glass Alchemy doesn’t offer you will have to incorporate it into your piece.

This tubing has the potential to have an impact on our industry in very beneficial ways. The possibilities are limitless. It is up to the artist to take the initiative to use this material in evolving ways. The properties of the silver striking colors alone offer immeasurable possibilities. The fact that you can custom order your color combinations makes your imagination the biggest limitation. In combination with classical techniques, this new system of tubing production offers opportunities to the innovators of the industry. I for one will be happily buying a stockpile.

Glass Alchemy is currently working on tubing with 44 lines of color pattern, offering artists expanded capabilities in the future. As these products continues to develop Torchlife will work closely with Glass Alchemy to continue testing variations of this tubing and keep you up-to-date on the latest advancements.


Email TorchLife

Site design by Mark Dixon
Site contents © 2008-2014 Michael Larson and Torch Life Glass Artist Community. All rights reserved.