tech talk – my torch!

tech talk torch by sailorgirl jewelry

For me, the best part of every day – after my morning latte – is firing up my torch and crafting dazzling, happy beads. But this is not a tiki-torch or the British for ‘flashlight’. It’s a small, stainless steel, adjustable blowtorch.

And it’s the glowing hot core of my business.

I use a Nortel Midrange Plus.

my torch by sailorgirl jewelry

It looks like Luke Skywalker’s pistol, only with a flat base I’ve bolted to my table.

The torch can be fuelled by either natural gas and oxygen or propane and oxygen. I use propane. It heats my glass to ºC, literally melting it to molten in a matter of seconds, so I can spin, shape, streak, spot, swathe and so on – always using my mandrels so I keep my fingers from getting scorched.

The ‘Plus’ means it is actually 2 torches in one. The lower torch is a Nortel Midrange which is larger, the upper is a Nortel Mega Minor, a smaller torch. So I can swap between larger, structural work and more detailed finishing.

On each torch I can control the flow of oxygen and propane. Adjusting these changes the flame and allows me to create different effects for some of the glass. My fire opal series uses a special type of glass called silvered glass. To get that fabulous opalescent effect after the bead is made I turn the oxygen almost off and flash the bead into the reduced flame.
fire opal glass bead by sailorgirl jewelry
Like all tools, my torch needs regular cleaning and maintenance but these ‘tune ups’ are a breeze. I just floss the tubes with a fine needle tool. A 25lb tank of propane (the size of a bbq tank) lasts me between 6 and 12 weeks depending on how much I am making. For oxygen I have 2 oxygen concentrators, these are converted hospital respirators that pump out pure oxygen.

I love my torch.

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