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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Working the Glass Furnace

This is a wonderful shot (on several levels) taken by Karen on my camera.

Our youngest participating member, Snori, is seen here working the bellows on the glass furnace.

First thing that struck me, both seeing her work and what is clear in this image, is her correct hand position. Snori took a turn on the bellows as so many others did, while her mom (Jorunn) was at the working end of the furnace.
Late in the second day, some tinkering was done on the bellows by our most experienced bellows operator to arrive at a best possible physical method to work this equipment. Something that is not immediately obvious to the new user is that there is a specific way to correctly manipulate a given bellows for a given furnace requirement. On the bead furnace, the problem is not volume of air, but in fact maintaining as close to a CONSTANT flow of air as is possible. For the standard Norse double chamber bellows, the trick was to work off the 'top half' of the possible lift of the two chambers. It was not required to actually put any force downwards on the handles. The weight of the wooden top plate was more than enough to create the air volume required. You can see that Snori's hands are positioned so that she can lift up the handle to fill each bag, but then just drop the chamber. This requires very little actual muscle, but does require some attention to the rhythm. Snori's attention to the task actually produced a cleaner, more constant flow of air than what came from the hands of many of the adults (who 'assumed they knew how' to work the bellows).




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