Category Archives: Beadmaking-Lampworking


That’s Pretty Shifty!

Shifty and CFL are two terms to describe the same thing — a pallet of glass that changes color based on the light that it is under. CFL stands for “compact fluorescent light.” The glass changes its apparent color in fluorescent lighting.

The first CFL/shifty glass was done by Glass Alchemy in 2014, with the color Serum. Next, came Terps.

Serum by Glass Alchemy

Terps by Glass Alchemy


These are a bit tough to get, but other CFLs are available:

Potion by Glass Alchemy


Gemini by Northstar


Hydra by Northstar


Siriusly by Northstar

Check our hot glass section for availability.


Oxygen Concentrators

When we set up our flame room in our new location, we put a lot of thought into how we would get gas and oxygen to the burners. We ended up with piped-in gas and oxygen concentrators and think it is a great system.

We started with hot head torches and MAPP gas.

Hot Head Torch

MAPP Gas Canister Holder and Clamp

This was a great beginner setup and we had a great time with it.

We then took a big step and became Bethlehem dealers! Below are the Alpha and Bravo glassworking torch models.

Bethlehem Burner Alpha Glassworking Torch

Bethlehem Burner Bravo Glassworking Torch

With this system, we used 3-gallon propane tanks and some used medical oxygen generators. An issue we encountered with this system was having to make frequent runs to get more propane — and, of course, the propane would run out at the worst times. Another issue we encountered was that the used medical generators did not last. People tend to give up on these generators when they have a lot of hours on them.

When we moved, we looked at oxygen tanks. That solution sounded like a nightmare to me — the tanks must be allowed to bleed, so you are losing oxygen all the time. It is a time-consuming process to get the tanks refilled, and just having oxygen under pressure seemed to be a scary concept.

We went the concentrator route and have not regretted it. These rebuilt machines are like new and have enough power to run the Bravos — and that is a lot!

We sell oxygen generators but only for store pickup as they are difficult to ship.

A concentrator works by taking air from the room and compresses it. It then delivers air to where you direct it — in our case, to a bench burner. In a five-step process, the concentrator:

  1. takes air from the room
  2. compresses the oxygen
  3. takes out the nitrogen
  4. adjusts the way the air is delivered and
  5. delivers it.

The concentrator takes oxygen out of the room, so you must allow air to get back in by means of some sort of ventilation. We have our vented out through the ceiling and also have a door on each end as well as a vent toward the floor into the next room so there are plenty of ways to get air in.

I posed the question on the Facebook group Lampwork Tips, Techniques, & Questions. One person said the removal of the oxygen from the room is about as problematic as all the people in the room using up oxygen by breathing!




For a few years now, Stained Glass Express has been offering 33 coe glass.  We are still learning and still adding product.  One of the growing stock is our 33 coe tubes and rods.  We stock Simax tubes and rods made by Schott.  This is a high- quality borosilicate glass.  The main ingredients are silica and boron.  Boro has a high heat resistance and a low thermal expansion.  (thus the low coe number).

Simax works best in high heat and is commonly used in lab equipment, industrial equipment and cookware.  However, in our art world it is a favorite because it creates smoot, transparent and strong beautiful pieces.

For Simax to work at it’s full potential it must be annealed properly.  Annealing is the process of eliminating internal thermal stress.  This stress comes from one area of the glass getting hotter than a neighboring area and will later develop cracks.  Usually it is annealed at 1050 F for about one hour and then cooled slowly.  If you cool too quickly it will crack.  Of course, this can vary depending on the thickness of the glass and other variables.

You can use Simax glass with other 33 coe glass like Glass Alchemy, Golden Gate, imported, Momkas, Northstar, Tautman and others.

We have not put simax on our website but if you talk to us and allow us to cut it to fit a box (or are willing to pay for oversized we will ship it.  Our colored rods are on the site.


In the art world the top item made is tobacco pipes, but also ornaments, pendants and other wonderful works of art!







Sign up for one of our torch room classes and learn this art!




Info from Glass Art Magazine and Wikipedia

Japanese legend is that if you fold 1000 cranes you will be granted a wish by the gods.  The crane is a symbol of happiness and eternal youth so some believe that the 1000 origami paper cranes will bring you long life or recovery from illness or injury.  In Japan the cranes which are strung together are very popular as wedding themes.


Jeremy Grant-Levine (aka Germ) in  2018 is glass blowing 1000 cranes.  Jeremy is being back by $92,000 Kickstarter campaign.  This project will take 250 pounds of glass and approximately two miles of wire, totaling $20,000 in materials.  When complete the work will on display at the Arch Enemy Arts gallery in Philadelphia.

Jeremy is based in Philadelphia and has been flameworking glass pipes for over 13 years.  He has exhibited at galleries in Philadelphia, Seattle, New York, Miami and Tel Aviv.




Tips from the Glass Academy: Trautman Glass Rods

Paul Trautman’s Contributions to Modern Boro Color Production

The following information is from

There was a time when American artistic lamp workers only worked with clear borosilicate glass; these were the guys making little glass menagerie animals at the carnival or Disneyland. The Italian soft-glass sculptors had color but the Pyrex glass workers used paint, or, if so inclined, mixed chemicals into some of their clear glass by hand to make a little bit of color for their sculptures. Then came Paul Trautman.

Immersed in both the arts and sciences, Paul worked with neon and played with the artistic side of lampworking, including the art of hand mixing color. At one point in his career, he even made lab equipment, but Paul was thinking big. By the mid-1980’s, Paul Trautman had conceived, designed, and built the world’s first commercial operation to manufacture colored borosilicate rod glass. Northstar Glassworks set the standard for modern boro color production, and now several small companies are using Paul’s techniques to manufacture colored glass. These companies also use recipes pioneered by Paul, which expanded the borosilicate glass palette from a few red and blue transparent colors into bright opaque jewel tones and highly reactive metallic colors that shift their hue depending on the atmosphere of the flame.

Paul sold Northstar in 2002, intending to return to art and his own lab, but the urge to mix color (and requests from his fans) lured Paul back to manufacturing on a smaller scale. After perfecting his recipe for a self-striking ruby red – the hugely popular Red Elvis – Paul started working on both a new palette and on improving some old favorites.

Dark Red Black Elvis


To view our inventory of Trautman Art Glass, click here



Time for Plan B

Who Else Manufactures Glass?

Time for Plan B. The Spectrum plant has now ceased production of glass. They are continuing to sell what is left in the warehouse but we are expecting the warehouse to close by year end. Then it will be just what the distributors have left in their warehouses for us to stock.

This list is US manufacturers only.

Art Glass

  • Armstrong**
  • Kokomo**
  • Uroboros**
  • Van Gogh**
  • Wissmach**
  • Youghiogheny**

Fusible Glass +/-82 COE

  • Youghiogheny

Fusible Glass 90 COE

  • Bullseye Glass Company (Note: Bullseye does not say they are 90. They say they are compatible with themselves.)**
  • Uroboros*
  • Wissmach*

Fusible Glass 96 COE

  • Spectrum (the factory that is closing)**
  • Uroboros**
  • Wissmach***

Rods & Frit for Glassblowing and Flameworking

  • Glass Alchemy**
  • Momka**
  • Northstar**
  • Origin*
  • Trautman*


These companies coat glass. They do not manufacture the glass the coating is on. They will be affected by Spectrum closing.

  • Austin Thin Films**
  • Coatings by Sandberg**
  • Profusion**

Dalle Glass and Rondels


* indicates that Stained Glass Express stocks some

** indicates that Stained Glass Express stocks a lot

*** indicates that Stained Glass Express will be aggressively increasing their stock



Tips from the Glass Academy: Bethlehem Burners

Bethlehem Burners

Stained Glass Express is a distributor for Bethlehem Burners. Why? Because they let us! Many manufacturers are still in the manufacturer to distributor to retailer way of doing business. There certainly is a place for this and I am glad it exists. When I want two of these and one of those, I am very grateful that I have a distributor to go to.

However, with something like a kiln or a burner, that number of mark-ups just makes it too expensive to the end users. Stained Glass Express has worked hard to convince some manufacturers that we are capable of being a distributor. So, Bethlehem took us on and we are thrilled. We ended up with a top of the line torch that everyone who has used it, loves.

If you are used to other names, this is how our burners compare:

We stock two different Bethlehem burners and can get the larger ones. We stock the Alpha and the Bravo. Champion and Grand are also available.


Alpha (click image to view product)

The Alpha compares to:

  • GTT – Lynx
  • Carlisle – Mini CC
  • Nortel – Mega Minor

Bravo (click image to view product)

The Bravo compares to:

  • GTT – Phantom
  • Carlisle – CC, Black Widow
  • Nortel – Red Max

The Champion compares to:

  • GTT – Mirage
  • Carlisle – CC+
  • Nortel – Red Rocket

The Grand compares to:

  • GTT – Kabuki
  • GTT – Delta Mag

According to Bethlehem’s flow tests, Bethlehem burners are capable of flowing more oxygen than any other torch comparable to its size.

Shop all glassblowing & flameworking supplies here

~ Janet




Tips from the Glass Academy: US Glass Manufacturers


Art Glass Manufacturers in the US

Since Spectrum Glass announced it was closing, there has been an increased interest in where glass comes from and what we will be stocking our bins with. So I have been making a list. I am not sure my list is complete and I would be very happy if someone would like to send me more info or correct anything I have done.



  • Now manufactured by Wissmach and Kokomo. Transparent by Wissmach and Opals by Kokomo.


  • This company started in 1893!  It is located in Milton, West Virginia. They make hand-blown glass as well as glassware, art glass, sheet glass, Dalle De Verre slab glass and Rondels.


  • Manufacturers what some call 90 COE. Bullseye says it is compatible with itself. Their main headquarters is in Portland, Oregon but they also have opened locations in Santa Fe, New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.


  • Started in 1980 making antique glass in the old-word method of hand-blown sheets. Located in Seattle, Washington.


  • Full name is Kokomo Opalescent Glass. Make art glass and blown glass. America’s oldest glass factory. Located in Kokomo, Indiana.


  • Machine made glass and fusible 96 COE glass. Located in Woodinville, Washington. Will stop manufacturing art glass in July 2016 and stop manufacturing studio nuggets in September 2016.


  • Manufactures over 105 color combinations in many styles and textures. They have two fusible lines, System 96 and FX90. They also have a 104 COE line. They are located in Portland, Oregon.

Van Gogh

  • It is very difficult to find info on this company. However, it seems that they take already manufactured glass and paint and coat it with a backing to get a wonderful unique look that is great for mosaics.


  • Makes hot and cold! Art glass, 96 and 90 COE glass. Also makes a temperable line. They are located in Paden City, West Virginia.

Youghiogheny Opalescent Glass Company

  • Specializes in glass for lamps, panels, windows and other arts and crafts.Their lines include Stipple, Virtuoso, Reproduction, Oceana and Easy Fuse. Located in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

Glass Rods

Glass Alchemy

  • Started in 2000, manufacturing colored borosilicate. 33 COE. A pioneer in their industry. They are located in Portland, Oregon.

Momka’s Glass

  • Manufacture borosilicate glass. 33 COE. Located In Arlington, Washington. Company was started by a Bulgarian glass chemist, Momka Peeva

Northstar Glassworks

  • Manufacture colored borosilicate. 33 COE. Their brand is called Borocolour. They are also considered a pioneer in this emerging market. Located in Portland, Oregon.

Dichroic Glass

All of these companies take already manufactured glass by Spectrum, Uroboros or Bullseye and use it as a substrate for their dichroic coatings.

Austin Thin Films

  • “DichroMagic”. Founded in 1992 and located in Austin, Texas.

CBS (Coatings by Sandberg)

  • In business just over 10 years and located in Orange, California.

Profusion Studio

  • Located in Glendale, Arizona. Make Dichroic and decals. Specialize in patterns.

~ Janet

Tips from the Glass Academy: Mica Powder


Mica Powder

So guess what Mica powder is made from? I am not sure why this was a surprise to me, but it is made from Mica!


Mica is a sparkly, transparent silicate mineral that is very flaky.  I have seen Mica used in lamps using the Tiffany method of foiling it in. It is usually a beautiful amber color. It has also been used in Jacquard Products homemade cosmetics and in furnace viewing ports. Today, it is used in everything from electronics to eye shadow.

Mica will stick to glass when fired. It will not stick to itself, so don’t overlap unless you are using the Satin Shimmer decals. You cannot even layer it very thick.

These absolutely beautiful feathers where made by Lois Manno. I got this picture from the Bullseye blog. These are done with Mica powder. You can see Lois’ work on her Glass Bird Studios website.

Mica feathers

Mica is compatible with all COEs so is very versatile. You can even roll a bead in it.

Copper Mica Powder


Gold Mica Powder


Russet Mica Powder


Silver Mica Powder


~ Janet


Tips from the Glass Academy: What is Borosilicate Glass?


Borosilicate – What is it?

(thanks to Northstar Glassworks for the info)

We have a relatively new addition to our product line up. It is called Boro! It’s new to us with the addition of larger bench burners in our classroom and with customers asking for it. We now stock clear rods and tubes, lots of colored rods and a few colored tubes.

Starting back in ancient Egyptian times, glass artists worked predominately with soda-lime glass.  Soda-lime, also referred to as “soft glass” is comprised of silica, soda and lime as denoted by its name. These ingredients make an easily malleable glass that has a long work time and a relative low melting point. Because of these properties, the glass became known as soft glass. In the late 19th century, scientists began experimenting with different glass compositions. This yielded borosilicate which is made of silica and boron. It melts at a higher temperature and has a shorter working time. It is extremely versatile and is less dense than soda-lime and because of its molecular structure is also more durable.

Another thing that makes boro different is its thermal expansion. Thermal expansion is a measurement of linear expansion which denotes how much the glass contracts as it is cooled.  Soda-lime glasses are at the highest end of the scale and expand the most as they are heated.  This means that as they cool, they contract or shrink at the greatest rate. To prevent cracking, this rate of cooling must be carefully controlled using an annealing oven. Borosilicate glass, however, is on the lower end of the thermal expansion scale. It expands and contracts at a much lower rate than soda-lime glass and is not as susceptible to cracking problems, even when cooled quickly without kilning. This is why borosilicate is used in the scientific industry as well as for cookware.

What this means to the artist is when placing boro glass in the flame, a rod can be directly inserted into the heat without having to be slowly warmed, as in the case with soda-lime glass. Because of this unique property, borosilicate can be used for large sculptures in which a small section can be worked without the entire piece being hot. It also allows the artist to selectively heat sections of a work or reheat portions without cracking. With soda-lime glass, a large sculptural piece can be very challenging, especially when multiple reheats are required.

~ Janet

To view our extensive inventory of boro glass (33 COE), please click here.