Aside from beekeeping, I love glass, hot and cold – lamp work (torch work), fusing, cold working glass, painting glass (visit my Paula’s GlassRoots blog). Yep, I like it all. So when a commercial beekeeper from my Beekeeping club approached me about making glass honey dippers, I was completely onboard. What a fun and fantastic idea! And why didn’t I think of it sooner???
Perhaps because I’ve never used or owned a honey dipper in my life. In fact, most of my honey is crystalized and doesn’t lend itself to dipping. Doesn’t matter, I was on the torch that weekend coming up with prototypes. The first few are always a learning experience. A few things I learned:
- Borosilicate/Pyrex glass is better for honey dippers than soft glass. It’s more durable from a users standpoint, and also easier to work because you can allow the one end to cool somewhat before working the other end. And there’s less worry of cracking. Plus you can rework if it doesn’t turn out right.
- Be extra careful when working both ends. You can even work one end, then anneal and cool, then work the other ends later.
- Don’t use color on the dipping ends. Not safe for food consumption because of the metals contained in the glass.
Although you could wrap it completely in clear. Safe to use plain clear glass.
- 10-12 mm rods are the best size.
- Also best to work both the designs directly on the rod rather than making a separate component then applying it on the end. Doesn’t look as clean.
- Don’t make a decorative top the looks like a dipper. User may get confused.
- There are so many ways to make the dipper bottoms, I think the best is to carefully coil glass from a smaller rod directly onto a larger rod. Tricky part is keeping the larger rod from melting and bending.
These are my prototypes. I have lots of practice ahead of me but I think these lessons are a good start.
Remember that honey dippers do have a practical use, so do test them to make sure they lift and spread the honey evenly onto a slice of toast or something yummy. This is a tough job, but it has to be done for quality control purposes!