Today I want to talk with you about pickling glass. Yep, you can pickle glass just like you can pickle metal! Cool huh? So why do we want to pickle glass, you ask? Well, I'm sure in your lampworking career you have had your fair share of scummy disgusting rods. As you know our glass travels a long way before it gets to our studio. It is pulled in glass factories, shipped to distributors, and stocked in boxes on shelves before it gets packed into a box and shipped to our studios. You can imagine the layers of dust, dirt, and grime that can get from it's travels along with the gooey oils from your skin. Now think of melting that dirty oily glass and how pretty that will look if not cleaned.
So normally you would just wipe down your rods with a clean cloth and glass cleaner or alcohol, right? Well lets do one better and pickle that glass to get it sparkling clean!
None of these tutorials are my own so I will link you up to the ones I have followed and fill you in on how I followed them. So lets take a look at some glass to see the results.
For this example I have used one of my favorite clear glasses, Clear by Creation is Messy. Their clear is VERY compatible with just about every type of 104 glass out there. I have had little to no problems with cracking so it's my go-to clear.
From left to right: Pickled clear, gently worked untreated clear, and just burn the snot out of it and work it hot untreated clear.
Wow! Look at the difference huh?! Pickling makes a HUGE difference in clarity for sure! You will still need to wipe down your rods with a CLEAN cloth and either window cleaner or alcohol before using because even thought the rods have the grime cleaned off of them the oils on your skin will still make the glass scuzzy if you don't use clean rods.
I used Pat Frantz' tutorial on glass pickling which can be found here.
BUT.. there were a few things that weren't super specific so I will tell you how I did it. So first you are told to use the pickle according to the box instructions, but use it half strength. If I would have had my postal scale I may have weighed out the amount of pickle in one of those metal beading triangles to get the right amount. Unfortunately when I did this I didn't have a scale. I used a wooden spoon and used 2 large scoops for the pickle. I filled up my baking dish as full as I could get it making sure to leave room for the glass.
I don't know about you, but I am not really sure how hot, hot coffee is. So what my hubby told me is that you just pretty much want to keep the pickle solution from boiling. The double burner I used was kinda funny with temperature so you kinda had to guess. So that being said you want to keep the heat low to medium. You will have a few little fizzy looking bubbles doing it this way and that seemed to work fine. This will make more sense when you set up your pickling solution.
The other thing that was not touched on was disposal. So here is an excellent article I found on the Metal Studio Workbook blog telling you more about pickle and how to dispose of it.
While going through a most excellent Pinterest board of gorgeous lampwork beads I also came across Ising Glass Designs blog. She used a natural pickle and seemed to have the same awesome results. You can read more about her experiences on her blog. Personally I would have liked to use the natural method as I hate nasty chemicals. It's nice to know you can still get the same results which ever way you choose!
I hope this helps you with your scummy glass problems. I know I am super stoked to get those normally streaky scummy rods crystal clear!