Low work tables on rollers, adjustable height stools, and mobile sheet pan racks that once anchored the Glass Lab, now in storage.

After blogging last week about a factory tour and my inability to
prioritize the value of its various human parts by comparing them to
organs of the body, a friend pointed out a profoundly simple truth. read more

“Start time? End time? Breaks? Hourly wage?” Casting Supervisor scrambles to answer a volley of unexpected questions from a Latvian visitor watching his team rolling sheet glass.

Tours of the Bullseye factory can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an
hour or more. Questions range from the tech-nerd’s “Is the coloring
chromophore in red glasses part of the silicon tetrahedra?” to the
sweet-faced 8-year old who wants to know how old he has to be to get a
casting job. read more

Exclusively for subscribers: This month we feature three new videos recorded at BECON 2013: CHROMA CULTURE: read more

If you think it’s hard to start a business in today’s economy, just talk to the three art school graduates who founded Bullseye in 1974. read more

In case you missed it…

A Conversation with Lani McGregor, Part I

“I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lani McGregor, Lani McGregor, Executive Director of Bullseye Gallery and partner with husband Dan Schwoerer in Bullseye Glass Co. in Portland, OR. Bullseye recently opened a Resource Center in Emeryville. The journey up to this point has been a colorful one!” ~Susan Longini

(for full article, see link below)



Q. How do you get rid of 30,000 cubic feet of propane vapor?

A. You hook a hose to the tank, attach it to a big upright pipe and light a match. It’s called a “flame-out”.

…Just one of many “guy things” they do on weekends around the factory…

read more

I know I promised to write about the GAS conference. You’d think that I’d have something to say about a project that consumed over a year of my life.  Maybe a simple BESTS & MOSTS list like Cynthia’s.

Oddly though, my BESTS were a little too much like my WORSTS. Stuff like:


…craning for a view (the bleached head in the upper right-hand corner of the frame is me), I can’t deny the rock-concert allure of mobs watching really good blowers (and Paul Cunningham doing a Moje roll-up fills that bill brilliantly).

But somehow, conversing through a bullhorn lacks a certain intimacy.

…even if Dan seemed to enjoy the hell out of herding hundreds of compliant souls around the factory.

I appreciate the organizational steroids it takes to manage a project of this size, but I came away from  GAS  with a heightened appreciation for conferences on the scale of Ausglass‘ or North Lands’, where human contact doesn’t mean having your hand ground into the steel bleachers by some kid’s Doc Martens as he scrambles for a seat.

OK. Clearly I’m still in GAS rehab. I WILL try to find some less curmudgeonly BESTS in a day or two.

For now, I’m off to confer with the most appealing crowd in THIS neighborhood.

Time is racing by. I can’t seem to get back to the factory tour I started weeks ago. Victim to some malfunctioning reverse gear on my internal time machine, this morning I found myself staring at this…

Rolling glass circa 1978. The height of fashion on the casting floor? Velvet bellbottoms?

Not today. But who notices apparel in 2008? You can’t see the pants for the tattoos.

Well, back to working out the timelines for the real tours that are coming through next week. If you want to know more about these and other activities that Bullseye has planned for the GAS conference, check out the SEE BE info that Mary Kay’s group put together.

Like everything else they do, it’s just brilliant.

After 16 hours of melting at about 2500F, the glass is ladled out of the tanks. By hand.

The casters need to move fast. As it gives off heat, the glass starts to set up. It needs to get to the rolling table before it’s too stiff to roll easily.

Bullseye operates two styles of rolling tables. The single-roller (shown here) consists of a water cooled steel table and one roller that flattens the glass across its surface. A caster spreads the gob of glass across the table in front of the roller to insure even coverage.

A single rolling table lets us make collage glasses like fracture-streamers, stringer glasses, etc., where the chips and/or threads of glass are composed on the table before the sheet is rolled.

On the second style of table, the double-roller, the glass is pressed between a pair of rollers, creating a sheet with more uniform top and bottom surfaces.

You may see either single- or double-rolling method as you speed across the casting floor…. on your way to the next stop on your factory tour…

Now imagine you’ve dashed past the mixing barrels and are darting across the hot shop floor, dodging guys running by with ladles of molten glass. Then you come face-to-face with this guy…

…operating something that looks like a cross between a howitzer and a speculum.

It’s called a screw charger. It’s used to feed the batch into the furnace. It takes about 90 seconds to charge the contents of a single barrel (350 lbs) into a furnace. We used to shovel the batch in by hand. The screw charger reduces dust and back aches.

Each furnace will get charged 6-10 times during its 16-hour melt cycle. You won’t get to watch. We have to keep moving. Remember, there are 349 other people behind you on this tour.