Thank you for supporting Taming Lightning! I'm writing everyone to let you know that I appreciate your support. Having the opportunity to meet most you, I've keep that in mind as I make progress in the podcast, and knowledge.
There's been a delay on the release on the first Podcast, I've had to reschedule my talk with our guest several times. The topic we will cover is the difference between Traditional Neon, and Plasma. It's good topic to start us out on, to get everyone on the same page.
Today I would like to also share with you an article about the Noble Gas Xenon below:
One of the frequently asked questions I get is “where do these gases come from?”
A simple answer would be from the air in Earth’s Atmosphere. For a more indebt answer I’ll consult Neon Techniques 4th Edition by Wayne Strattman.
The air that we breath contains many different gases in various amounts. Pure air, that is, without water, carbon dioxide, and dust contains primarily seven gases: 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 0.9% Argon, 0.001% Neon, with the following being in quantities less than 0.001% Helium, Krypton, and Xenon.
The final five gases are what we are mostly concerned with, and they are often called Noble, rare, or inert gases. If you reference back to your High School chemistry class you will be familiar with Noble Gases on the far right of the Periodic Table of Elements. The term Noble Gas refers to gases that are colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-flammable. They are Noble in the sense that they are very stable (chemistry: stability is due to having the maximum number of valence electrons in their outer shell can hold), meaning they do not react with other elements. Therefore, the term “Inert Gases” isn’t such an accurate term as it states that they cannot react. While they do not react naturally, they can under intervention by scientists and researchers. You may also hear them called Rare Gases, which is also misleading. While they are in much smaller quantities compared to nitrogen and oxygen, they are quite abundant. It would be like the comparison of finding water in cacti or small oasis in the desert, then rarity in terms of finality.
Initially It was expensive and impossible to be economical and commercially available for use , until 1907 when French Scientist George Claude perfected a process for obtaining these gases cheaply which he developed with the German scientist, Carl Paul Gottfried Linde, through the process of making liquid air.
Liquefaction of Air is the processes of air becoming a liquid by cooling, similar to condensation on cool glass. Liquid Air at a temperature of -196℃ (-371℉) contains primarily liquid nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. These three liquids have different boiling points (points at which go from liquid to gas). When the oxygen is allowed to boil, argon and nitrogen remain. Then the nitrogen is removed by chemical means, leaving pure argon. This same process is applied for separation of the other gases. Gases like Helium are obtained much more cheaply from natural gas deposits, where the mix is much greater in concentration.
 Wayne Strattman, Neon techniques: handbook of neon sign and cold cathode lighting, 4th ed. (Cincinnati, OH: ST Media Group, 2003), 18.
 Ibid 19
 Ibid 20
Check out the youtube video below for further visual explanation of the process:
Feel free to send your questions to this email, share, and comment!
Percy Echols II
Podcasting and interviews are very new skillsets to me, but luckily I’ve been able progress with the time and funding available to me. I’m plan on releasing a podcast episode monthly with the first being release on the last week of May or first week of June. Stay tuned for informational posts in between.
For the podcast, I have a growing list of guests, so I don’t see it running out soon. In this group we’ll have Artists, Makers, and Researchers offering their own unique knowledge and experience in use of Rare Gases. Each episode will feature an interview segment followed by a discussion in plasma, neon, or research unique to them, while future episodes may contain reoccurring guests with a focus on the discussion, with a quick introduction.
Now, the podcast is backbone for the project. In Future blog content, I will include video, images, and studio visits that would eventually be compiled into a Handbook or practical guide for Plasma Light Sculpture. The focus on plasma was due very little published information on it. I hope with the first podcast to talk about the differences between plasma and traditional neon.
Interactives are moments where your choices help shape Taming Lightning. It may seem arbitrary but a good podcast begins with some tasty tunes as the intro. Below are few songs that are free for use. Please use the form below to cast your vote.
Thank you for your support, please like and share.
Taming Lightning is a reserach project following my Journey as an Emerging Artist, to learn and share knowledge about the phenomenon of ionized Gases in Plasma and Neon Light through interviews and discussions with Artists, Makers, and Researchers.
Updates will also include documentation on in progress works and idea, Sharing of Classes I find taught by Artists and Makers, as well as future plasma classes at Pittsburgh Glass Center where I'm researching and developing opportunities.
My Neon Experience:
Student work from Interactive Light, Pilchuck Glass School 2014
My history in Neon and Plasma began when I took a class at Pilchuck Glass School in 2014, called Interactive Light with Patrick Collentine. In this workshop we explored creating air tight vessels using Furnace glassblowing and Torch work using borosilicate. The course was a laboratry for creating shapes and surfaces to explore in plasma neon.
From that course I was striken by the plasma bug, and searched for a way continued to work in it for my BFA exhibtion at Illinios State Universty. I ended up working with a local Neon and Sign making studio Super Signs in Bloomington, IL, where we investigated plasma. Unfortunatey neither of us had any experience to make any dazzaling light work, but we did produce some interesting glowing pieces. Eventually our schedules no long lined up as their Neon Technician had various installations and repairs to fulfill.
Flash forward to 2016, I had applied to Pittsburgh Glass Center Studio Technician Apprentiscehsip Program. Within the first two months of my apprenticeship, we received at 2 seperate donations from retired neon sign workers. This include a working vacuum pump, manifold (plumbing for filling tubes and vessels), diffusion pump, hand torches, bombardier (trad neon) and more. Which I later discovered that behind the scenes a big hand in receiving the donation was Brian Engel, Studio Coordinator, and Chris Clarke, Operations Manager. Both were interested in having a neon and plasma sometime in the future.
It's an art and knowledge that isn't widely known, but I felt that I could definetly get things running with a little guidance. My first steps were to take pictures of all the equipment, and send them to my mentor Pat Collentine. Sorting through the equipment, and talking with Operations Manager, I was given permission to build a mobile Plasma Lab, a cart for vacuuming and filling vessels for plasma. I say plasma, due the dangers of using a bombardier in traditional neon, which is used to send high voltage through the tube for processing.
Now while I'm waiting for our gas order to come in, I'll be recording interivews and discussions in with Artists, Makers, and Research, and writing posts about the process, and some techniques and tricks I've learned so far.
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