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 G.A.S. Reports 1994-1999


1999 G.A.S. Conference Report and Gossip Column

Ronald A. Shapiro, Gossiper-in-Chief
The 1999 G.A.S. conference in Tampa was well attended and fun. Thanks are due to local organizers Susan Gott and Lenn Neff and helpers for all the effort, hard work, and planning needed to accomplish this.

At the introductory assembly we were treated to a wonderful flamenco performance by dancer Esther Suarez and her guitarist husband Jose Maria Moreno. Hot dancing and hot glass were much in evidence throughout the conference. Not least in this department was Toronto artist Laura Donefer, the Canadian wizard of hot glass and wild dancing. Her demonstration “Hot Hand Building to Wild Music” at the Dean James studio in Ybor City was a treat for all who
attended. Far from using a Digitry, Laura’s first piece was annealed in a quenching tub of cold water! Laura continued to uphold her reputation at the closing party that evening. The Digitry crew is a little ashamed to admit that we chose waiting in line for the tasty delicacies of the “Floribean Feast” over joining Laura on the crowded dance floor.

Hot Lectures
Some of the interesting lectures we managed to attend during the conference were
• Why I dyed my hair by Dick Marquis.
• How lightening makes glass by Prof. Vladimir Rakov.
• The dispersion of planets and the confounding of future archeologists by Josh Simpson.

We were sorry not to be able to hear more talks, but the duties of booth tending exerted their
siren call.
The GB3 Hall of Fame
In the past we have mentioned various artists we have run into who are still using their original GB3 Controllers on a daily basis. These units have not been made since 1984, so they really demonstrate Digitry’s planned non-obsolescence! In Tampa we encountered Shirley Elford of Toronto, Ontario, whose GB3 is about 17 years old and still chugging away. At the International Expo, a fascinating representation of glass from all over the world, we found Montreal based sculptor Donald Robertson. Both he and his partner, Susan Edgerley, also have been using their original GB3 for at least 17 years, and their pieces at the Exposition were made with its help. Two of their pieces which particularly caught our eye were an intricate lost-wax kiln casting of a nautilus type object, by Donald, and a very delicate pate de verre piece of opposing saucer-like disks with copper and pine needles, by Susan.
 Drew Smith, whose GB3 had previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame, has decided to leave the wild and chilly climes of Ohio for the balmy airs of Tampa. We congratulate Drew on his new home and gallery. The New Heights Gallery is just 3 blocks from Susan Gott’s Phoenix Studio.
Student Competition
Digitry is very pleased to congratulate Sheridan College student Kris Christensen on his winning first place in the Student Competition. Indeed, Sheridan students have been collecting quite a few accolades in the last few years. Some of the credit for this must go to Dan Crichton. Dan always brings a large contingent of his students along to these conferences. It must be very rewarding for them to have a teacher who puts so much energy and attention into their glass education.
  So, yet another Digitry Controller will be crossing the northern border as Kris brings home his prize — a GB1. This marks the 5th year that Digitry has provided a GB1 as a prize for the Student Competition. Last year, the first prize GB1 went to Tracy Barbosa of Mass College of Art.
My Dinner with Digitry
The annual Digitry–Marvin Lipofsky dinner took place at the Creole Cafe in Ybor City. Seated at the table next to us were Eric and Lorna of Uroboros Glass. This brought back strong and pungent memories of last year in Seto City, Japan, when we all went out together for Oonagi. That restaurant in Seto was dark, exotic, and small: the seven of us practically filled it up. Nary a word of English was spoken except among ourselves. I can still taste that deliciously smoked Japanese eel delicacy in my mind’s mouth. The barbecued shrimp at the Creole Cafe were pretty good too. After the conference Marvin was off to Chicago for an opening of his latest work.
What’s Henry Doing Now That He’s Retired?
When he is not loosing balls on the links, Henry Halem can frequently be found setting up links on his new glass Web site, http://www.glassinfo.com. Henry is still publishing his famous Glass Notes. For more information, or to order the book, check his other Web site, http://www.glassnotes.com. For the sake of golfers everywhere, let’s hope these glass projects keep him well occupied.

Speaking of Books
Dudley Giberson, longtime experimenter and innovator of equipment for the small glass studio, had a booth near Digitry at the conference. He has written a new book called A Glassblower’s Companion. It has lots of advice, instructions, historical musings, philosophy, and great drawings. And while you’re ordering this book, ask for his Joppa Glassworks Catalog of Fact and Knowledge. JOPPA GLASSWORKS, INC. website http://www.joppaglass.com
 Digitry is pleased to be mentioned in Giberson’s brief history of glass from 1500 BC to the present. It is an honor for us to be included right there with the ancient Mesopotamians (see the bottom of page M-5 in the Catalog). He can be reached at Joppa Glassworks, Inc., Warner, NH 03278.


1995 G.A.S. Report

The highlight of the 1995, 25th. year anniversary meeting of the Glass Arts Society in Asheville, North Carolina, was Saturday at the Penland School of Crafts. After some last minute tweaks and adjustments to the new furnaces and glory holes, including some quick welding work, the new Bill Brown Glass Facility was dedicated with a formal ceremony and ribbon cutting, followed by a demonstration by Venetian Master Lino Tagliapietra & co., among others. Digitry Company is honored to have been selected to provide the annealing controllers for this new facility. Someone mentioned to us that over the last 12 years, Digitry must have annealed more glass than anything or anybody in history. Although Digitry's equipment was originally conceived to control annealing, it also has important uses in all aspects and techniques of glass art, where time-varying control of heat is critical. In fact, annealing blown glass may be among the most straightforward of these uses, which include casting, bending and kiln forming, slumping, fusing, and pate de verre. Digitry controllers have also been used in heat treating steel, crystalline glazing of ceramics, and control of glass batch furnaces. For facilities that do not need the multiple oven capability of the GB4, the single oven GB1 is an ideal choice. The GB1 is particularly favored by fusers. Remember that the GB1 can hold 10 different temperature profiles. So, as you alternate uses, you do not have to punch in a new program each time.

For the carnivores among us, the traditional Penland Pig Roast was a real treat. The delicious smells of the slowly roasting pork against a background of bluegrass tunes and the receding silhouettes of the Blue Ridge Mountains was a perfect complement to the day. Closing out the day in the new glass shop was a notable ballet-like performance by Gene Koss and his team of heat-suited casters, ladles and torches moving in perfect coordination - truly a pyromaniac's delight.

Among the many veteran Digitry users and friends we ran into at the conference were Dan Fenton. Henry Halem, Drew Smith, Sam Stark, and Bill Boysen. Bill had his mobile glass shop set up at the Folk Art Center. It is a marvelous rig - a small day tank, a glory hole, and two annealers all mounted on one trailer. Of course the annealers are controlled by two GB1s. They are mounted on boards with an ingenious plug system so they can be easily removed for storage and transport.

Drew is still using his old GB3 and swears by it. It was in the shop last year for a quadruple bypass and chip transplant due to a close encounter of the fourth kind with a heating element, but is back on the streets, good as ever.

Dan found himself in the position of having to do a fusing workshop in a week's time in a Digitryless studio near Asheville. Over a few beers, we arranged to furnish him with a GB1. This GB1 was last reported at a workshop in Savannah, and we assume is now heading west as Dan wends his way back to his studio in Oakland.

Henry is currently working on the third edition of his Glass Notes, which he plans to have ready by Fall '95.

Sam Stark has recently moved to Asheville from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, by way of Colorado. From the days of the whale ships, those Nantucket boys wandered the world, but how many wound up in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Shortly after setting up a fabulous shop, complete with Digitry GB4, Sam came home one day to find it totally destroyed by fire - from arson in an adjacent building. Indomitable, Sam turned around, and with the help of many neighbors and fellow artists, had a new shop open by the time of the conference. At last view Gianni Toso was seen working at the glory hole. Sam's new GB4 was in a corner, sitting on an old chair, controlling away.

Sadly missing from the technical display was Dave Jacobs and his Paoli Clay Company. Dave suffered some serious health problems this year which prevented his attending the conference. Dave was the First Ever technical exhibitor at the original GAS conference in the 1970s. We wish Dave a happy recovery and look forward to seeing that huge chunk of Wisconsin Cheese in Boston at next year's conference.

Alan Klein, Andy Magdanz, and many others are working very hard to organize an exciting and party-filled GAS conference in Boston in 1996. We look forward to seeing everyone there.

1994 G.A.S. Report

Dear Glass Artist,

The 1994 G.A.S. Conference in Oakland was one of the best ever. The Digitry booth was continually busy- we barely had time for a drink of water or an espresso from the coffee bar across the hall! Among the many people who engaged our attention were quite a few current Digitry Owners who stopped by to tell us how pleased and satisfied they were with their GB1s, GB4s, and yes, even their antique GB3s.

Ro Pursor, from the wilds of Puget Sound, is still using his GB3, one of the first three or four ever sold. After being in storage for a short while, it only needed one whack to wake it up and continue its life of unending service. Speaking of endless service, Steve Maslach tells us that his GB3, of the same vintage as Ro's, has been continuously in service, including a Type S channel that has been running his glass melt furnace. He's been getting the best glass he's ever gotten.

In talking to people at the show we were reminded that the following points are important when considering the purchase of a new temperature controller:

  • Is the controller really easy to program? As easy as your microwave? Does it have a full 10-digit keypad?

  • Was it designed for use by artists, or do you have to be a refinery engineer to use it?

  • What kind of support can you expect after you buy it? We all like a bargain, but is the price so low that the manufacturer cannot afford to give you the service you need when problems arise? Is the manufacturer so bureaucratized that you need to go through 5 secretaries and a few voice mails to speak with someone who can help you?

  • Don't be fooled by features and detailed specs that have little relation to the usefulness of the controller. For example, what does it mean to say that all 12 types of thermocouple are supported when only 2 or 3 have the temperature range suitable for glass work? What use is it to know that the maximum ramp rate is 400,000 degrees per hour? Is your lehr powered by a jet engine?

  • Has it been a standard in the majority of schools and serious studios for over 10 years?

Digitry's controllers were designed from the beginning as the result of a collaboration between glass artists and computer scientists. Consequently they have always had the special features for glass art. As new glass techniques have become popular, even more special features have been added. We have enjoyed this collaboration with our friends and customers for over a dozen years.


Ron Shapiro



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