Hello Lightning Tamers!
Today's post was brought to you by Wayne Strattman for phosphorus powders! In my most recent collaborative series with Daria Sandburgh called Cumulus Gone Nimbus, one of the consistent struggles with the small vessels is creating colorful effects with gases alone. Other modifiers such as colored glass, well I’m not quite ready to use in flameworking (I tend to waste more than I make), but in observing other artists like Mundy Hepburn and Harriet Schwarzrock, I am curious to explore the use of phosphor powders in clear glass as well as with colored glass, to look deeper into prep and applications.
Thanks to Wayne Strattman, I can share with you several methods of applying phosphors as well as a local distributor through Wayne himself or internationally through Neon Product in the Netherlands.
I hope to follow up on UV lights and some content showing the process for adding these phosphors, pros and cons of applications, cleaning, and others that come to mind.
Thank you for your support,
-Percy Echols II | Taming Lightning
Distributor in the Netherlands for phosphors and other neon products, very responsive customer service.
A USER’S GUIDE TO PHOSPHORS FOR PLASMA ART
Phosphors are chemicals, usually applied in the form of powders or powders in a liquid vehicle that translate ultraviolet light made in a plasma discharge into visible light to reveal a variety of colors.
Phosphors were first developed in the 19th century when various natural elements were put in Geissler tubes. After the air was partially evacuated and under the action of a high voltage discharge the elements would glow. The ultraviolet light produced caused the rocks to fluoresce.
When powdered these “rocks” became our first phosphors.
Phosphor technology research progressed through the last century to produce a rainbow of colors.
Phosphors have many technical properties and requirements that fill textbooks but here are some basics for the plasma artist.
Phosphors can be used in 2 basic modes:
Here are 6 common ways to apply phosphors to glass. (note: In all cases the raw phosphors should be finely ground to powder using a mortar and pestle or equivalent. They come already milled to size but may clump together so need to be reduced to powder either when mixing with a liquid vehicle or for dry dust coating.)
Interesting combinations of phosphor colors can be made with the body colors of the plasma gas itself. For example, a xenon blue plasma combined with a contrasting color like red, green or other color can give a rich multicolored display.
*Avoid breathing airborne dust from phosphor powders. Wear a properly rated respirator mask and work in a well ventilated area when mixing/grinding the dry phosphor powders.
*See color chart specifying particle size. Small particle size does not require the use of a binder and will stick by itself using the explosive coating method or can be painted on with alcohol. Larger particle size will require binder to stick. There is no visible difference with such small particle sizes but it makes a difference when choosing a method of application.)
*Isopropyl alcohol can be used as a vehicle to mix with the phosphor powder for painting. It will work best to use 100% Isopropyl alcohol with no water in it.
*Most phosphors appear white until activated under UV light.
*Contact us with any additional questions
Welcome to Taming Lightning, I'm Percy Echols II. I'm the creator and host of Taming Lightning, as well as the emerging plasma tech at Pittsburgh Glass Center, where I'm researching and developing a space to explore Plasma and Neon Light as an Artist Medium.