System96 Murrini Millefiori 96 COE - 'Heather Jade' - 40+ mixed chipsDid you see how production has finally started at Oceanside Glass and Tile, who have taken over the manufacture of the System96 line? Happy days! Especially for the 96 fusers out there. Speaking of 96 fusers…

I’m writing this after a supremely challenging morning spent trying to make canes for my upcoming coe96 release. I’m calling them CoE96 instead of System96 now, because while I use predominantly System96 glass to make the canes, I’m increasingly including Gaffer 96 and Reichenbach 94 +/- 2 where I need to fill in the gaps in the System96 palette. However I still test chips on System96 Icicle base glass, so I know that the chips are safe to use in fusing with System 96.

So anyway. As we all know, CoE (Coefficient of Expansion) is NOT a guaranteed measure of compatibility (see the bullseye tech notes here). I approached the introduction of the Gaffer and Reichenbach colours to my System 96 work very hesitantly – these are glasses that are often used in furnace work and therefore are extremely colour dense. I have observed that the denser and/or more opaque the colour of a glass, the less compatible it is, in general. I’m assuming this is because the particles of metal oxides that give the glass it’s colour also contribute to different physical characteristics such as viscosity, which are as important (if not more so) than CoE in relative compatibility.

I started off by making the most of the fact that the Gaffer/Reichenbach glasses have more opacity when pulled thin when compared to the System96 colours, and only using them as thin stringers on the final layer. When it became clear that using these wasn’t going to cause the chips to become super mega incompatible, I started using them for one or two layers within the cane itself. Again, this didn’t show any particular incompatibility, so I assumed that, if I used them sparingly, the Gaffer and Reichenbach colours could be used to expand the 96 palette for making fusing murrini.

That’s all very nice, but what I hadn’t written down during my trials were that many (OH MY GOD so many…) of these torchwork/furnace colours are NOT WELL BEHAVED in the flame when making murrini. At all. I’ve said previously that System96 rods are lovely to work with. Smooth, don’t bleed or feather with heatwork, and generally are the teacher’s pet of the glass world. The Gaffer/Reichenbach rods are the TOTAL opposite of this. To the point where I’m struggling to even predict what they’ll do when heated. I’ve worked with Bullseye glass for so long now that I’m pretty familiar with all the colours, and what they’ll do when heated, so I know what to do to mitigate problems and usually, nine out of ten canes I pull will be sale-able. With 96, it’s about 4 out of 10. A 60% failure rate is not particularly economically viable as a business model, as far as I know, and the icing on the cake is that I can’t just whip out another thick stringer from the packet and start again. I have to manually pull another one, which simply makes me give up and go back to nice friendly Bullseye and just leave the 96 in a corner and give it the occasional evil glance.

But I know that there are System 96 fusers out there who like my murrini and want to use it in their work. So, while I will do fully-tested CoE96 releases, they will probably be smaller than the Bullseye ones, because they take longer to get right. I don’t particularly enjoy spending a whole morning working and having nothing to show for it, except a notebook full of scribbles on what not to do next time. Which I suppose you could argue IS work, but I’m kind of simple in that I like to work and then have lots of physical STUFF that I can see as a result of it. It’s one of the reasons I left academia, I could spend all day staring at a screen and yet be no further forwards than when I started in the morning. Some people love the challenge.  Me? I like instant rewards. I like to see that I’ve put some effort and work in, and something is different. It’s why I enjoy cleaning – it was dirty/messy… I have applied effort, and now it is no longer dirty! Applying effort and having nothing to show for it makes me grumpy to the point of sitting down and writing long rambly blog posts about it. So there.

CoE96 release 21/6/17 =)