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The Art Of Violet Wand Electrodes

I love glass. I remember watching the tourist trap guys on the boardwalk when I was a kid, long before t-shirt shops when they could still make you lacy glass cinderella slippers or roses or dainty doll-sized chairs that looked like icing.

There are a couple of techniques to make violet wand electrodes, but here’s what we do for ours–

Even before we started making our own, we had to think about liability. We had to think about how people would use them and what they would put them through in worst case scenarios. So we examined glass mixtures, what percentage of silica, what percentage of oxide would we need to make it strong but allow the charge to pass through? Borosilicate glass, which we settled on, is comprised of certain elements, but the proportions of those elements changes the glass properties. More alumina makes it stronger, building more crystalline chains. Sodium lowers the melting point so you can work with it at lower temp. So we had to tool around with an engineer familiar with glass compositions and playing with several variations till we settled on one thats used often in the medical sciences.

 

Since we were the first North American company to begin making violet wand electrodes in 70 years, we had to re-invent the science.  I learned a great deal from a Canadian gentleman who also was teaching himself, and after we caught up to him, together we worked to re-develop the techniques in electrode making.  12 years after our first attempts, we are now at a level of skill where we are producing some of his ‘dream’ designs under the MJOLNIR line.

At left are his ‘imagined’ electrodes that we are now producing. Making these in his memory is something that keeps our friendship close.

We still are the only violet wand company in the US offering our own full line of electrodes.

 

 

glass stock tubing

Ok, we get several sizes of pre-extruded tubing and then the bulk raw glass. It was easiest at the outset to work with what designs there were already in the antiques..I WISH we hadn’t started that way. If we had gone with totally new electrode designs from the beginning, then there may not be so much confusion and cross-use today. But we did, because people were already familiar with them and we had pre-made designs to work with.

We used the antique designs for a couple of years, but right away we saw a need for electrodes that would have BDSM functions and uses, not just be based on the old designs. We started sketching out different ideas. We already knew from a long time in the scene that people were using the antique rod electrodes internally. (eek) We settled on two new designs, the Dom internal vaginal electrode and the C-ring electrode.

 

 

 

 

 

The c-ring is easy, being a readily available medical borosilicate glass. The dom, not so. We needed a whole new makeup of glass to make the dom and (after much related research to find out how vw current behaves in the body) went with fused quartz, expensive, but incredibly silky-smooth and strong and with the specific electrical resistance and glass strength that we wanted to be safe to use internally.

The C-ring is blown with a torch method. The glass tube from the supplier is melted and formed over a bench burner. You heat the glass until its soft, all the while you are turning the tube and letting the melting glass ‘fall’ into a fluid shape. We look like –you know how people play video games, leaning this way then that to get their guy to run ‘over there’… We use a wood paddle or other tools to help shape it. There’s not a lot of time you can dick around with it since it cools in one spot while you’re heating another. If you’re having a bad day, it takes a while. Glassblowers say you can tell what a glassblower had for lunch by how his glass turned out.

All our internal electrodes are fused quartz glass.  (non UV producing), which makes them incredibly break resistant.  Quartz glass is very difficult to work with, and costly.  But you’re worth it.

 

The Dom electrode was our first internal electrode, and has become our signature piece.  Thousands are now in use by happy wand players worldwide.

Over the years we’ve also offered some variations on the Dom, such as tungsten filaments for a stronger version, and this one at left made with a quartz glass that is doped with cerium.  Cerium added tp quartz glass glows this bright electric blue when bombarded with electricity, so you can get the gas glowing one color, and the glass itself this amazing bright blue!  We produced these as a limited edition electrode, since cerium doped quartz glass is expensive.

 

 

 

Blowing something round is harder than it looks, our early attempts of the C-ring turned out looking like arthritic fingers! It takes some practice to get anything right. In the early days we had plenty of electrode ‘seconds’ but we’re much more practiced now. Once blown into shape, the raw tube in the shape of the electrode has to be heated almost to the melting point, and then allowed to cool slowly over 48 hours in a chamber that starts out superheated and drops the temperature by only a few degrees an hour.

It takes two weeks to blow a run of electrodes, due to the 48 hours of slow cooling they take in a tempering chamber during their process. And we can only put 6 in the tempering chamber at a time. The tempering is what makes the glass strong.  Import electrodes do not do this process, since it takes so long to do.  Beauty electrodes do not use this process.  Its time-consuming and expensive.  But  it makes a strong, tempered electrode that is likely to bounce when dropped.

g spots in annealing ovenWhen they come out of the tempering chamber a few days later, we can evacuate them. One at a time we seat them against a gas manifold which is connected to a vacuum pump. We pump out the pressure to the desired level on the gauge. Once the gauge measures evacuated pressure properly, you turn off the vacuum valve, turn on the gas valve and backfill with your desired gas to the desired fill pressure. At higher evacuation pressures, the gas gets lighter, so argon starts at purple then turns blue when the pressure is higher, neon starts at dark orange-red and gets lighter orange. You don’t need much gas at all. Just kind of a ‘pssss sssst’ let through the valve on a small electrode, just enough gas to ionize.

 

 

The old hunking pump we use is a bear. We’ve repaired it many times, but the seat for the seal is worn and we can’t get enough of an evacuated pressure to do blue electrodes except very rarely. The only other way to get blue without phosphors is adding a drop of mercury, and we won’t work around it. So, some days some electrodes are pink-purple and we put our heads together to decide if it goes in the purple bin or the pink bin.

vacuum - gas manifoldWhen you have the gas in, you’ve got your bench torch going to get that electrode sealed fast. Its a tricky spot and messing it up means starting over. You have to melt just enough to seal, more than enough to be sure it seals, and enough that it doesn’t leave a leak hole.

We used to re-temper them after they were sealed, because with the small place that you melted and cooled quickly to seal, you now have a place that is weaker than the rest of the tempered electrode. But we saw that worked for us, by leaving that weak spot intentionally weaker at the stem end. So now the electrode will always break first at that weak spot, down in the stem where it cant hurt anyone.

Spheres, we don’t blow them from tubing, but from the raw glass after melting in the furnace, using a glassblower’s pipe— just like you see at Ren Faires etc. The picture I’ve attached is doing a mushroom head, later it will be worked with a bench burner to attach to a tube to make the mushroom.

To make a new design, its not bad drawing it on paper, but it takes a lot of practice to get them to go right and all look mostly the same. So a new electrode, most of the time spent are the hours involved in getting it to production, and is practicing its shape enough to get it right. The rakes have been the worst so far–we do a natural curve to the teeth, with the inside teeth being shorter. Its common to hear ‘ah shit!’ often.

The tungstens versions of the dom and rake were tricky. It took a little bit of practice on the timing to seat the tungsten filament and have it hold, the glass had to be melted just right to be ‘sticky’ enough to grab the tungsten. Then for those we melt a small spot on the side of the stem and evacuate through that small port hole.

It takes a great deal of effort to care so much about quality.

 

One question we are frequently asked is how do we get the glow?  In the large photo it shows a rake electrode ready to go on the manifold.  The air will be pumped out to a partial vacuum and backfilled with a bit of argon gas to make a purple glow.  Neon gas makes a red glow.  A combination of the two makes pink.

I know that you’ll find a scientific theory by a collector on the web, putting forth that discharge tubes (which violet wand electrodes are related to) can be made purple by just pumping out the atmosphere, but in our 15 years of making them, we have never been able to see that ‘theory’ put into practice.  We use argon to backfill.  We would save a few bucks if there were another way.

 

One of our many burners and torches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The manifold where the magic happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bombarder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its amazing how much we have improved over the antique ‘quack’ science, in both strength and durability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another burner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glass bench with manifold, pump, bombarder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have to hide everything fun when its time for calibration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed that!  We don’t import for a reason, we’re here to give you quality.  Our glass electrodes are under warranty for life, not to lose their seal or their gas.  The only thing we don’t cover is accidental breakage, because even while our glass is super strong, it is glass, after all.

 

 

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