Home Glass Stories A Marble Repair Story

A Marble Repair Story

Person emailing me: I’d like a few of the German

Swirl marbles I have repaired.


Reply email reply: Will you take pictures of the

marbles you want repaired for me so I can make a

better judgment if they can be repaired or not. The

closer you get to the marble the better.


Person send me pictures: Here are the pictures you




Reply: I take a picture of the marbles too.  After

looking at your pictures, in my experience, some of

the German swirls can be repaired with no problems

BUT I have to tell you that there may be problems.


My thought: I have to tell the collector what might

happen before I start, but these are the extremes:


My email Reply: Some of the problems when

attempting a repair might be:


1. We don't know the type of glass (the COE) that

was used 150 years ago. 


2. The marble might crack or explode in the warming

up process.  They go from room temperature to 978

degrees F in 2 1/2 hours before I bring them into

2200 degrees F in my torch to repair them. 


3. All the years of being played with, the marbles get

very fine dirt, only seen in a microscope, and I have

to peel the outer covering of glass off the sphere.

 This peeling only takes off a very little amount of



4. Only once I had equipment failure when my kiln

switch froze in the open position and it went over

3000 degrees F and melted the 6 repaired marbles all

together.  I have replaced the switch of course and

the kiln works fine now.


Person: Do you think after they are repaired they will

be worth any value? I need to justify the repair. I

probably won’t sell them but I am wondering.


Reply: It depends.  Some collectors are purists and

think anything done to the original marble is bad.

Others don't care because it is the "look" that they are

interested in and a banged-up marble is not what

they want.  I treat each marble as if it were my own

I'll do my best for you.


My thought: I leave it up to the collector to decide.


New reply: Hi... it has been 102, 103 and 104 the

past 3 days here so I haven't torched because it is

not safe in 2200 degree F heat and hot temp too. 

Just wanted to give you a heads-up.  When it gets

below 95 here, I'll go to work.


US Mail: I receive a few marbles in the mail saying for

me to wait until it gets cooler.

Two marbles before I do the repair.  Two pictures of the first

marble and two pictures of the second marble.


Work: I repair two of the marbles sent to me and send

pictures of the work.

Three pictures of the first repaired marble and three pictures of

the second repaired marble.

Note:  In the second marble, there are a lot of tiny bubbles in the

interior of the marble.  The modern glass artists call this type of

glass "seed" glass.



Reply: I ask the person if they look ok for me to continue and they

email me back to go ahead and repair the rest of thier marbles.


Reply: I wanted to show you what these marbles are subjected to

when in my kiln.  These two pictures are what I see only after 1/2

hour of the slow heating process before I put them into 2200

degrees F.



Reply - Information: I keep the heating process going for at least

an hour to guarantee the temperature is the same throughout the

entire sphere.  Then I have to peel off the debris (after being

played with for so many years they catch micro dirt particles let

alone the chips).  This debris can only be seen at 1000 degrees F

and can't be seen at room temperatures.  I call the debris

150-year-old crust.


I bet if I showed you this stuff before getting your ok to repair, you

would have run fast in the other direction...lol.

My thought: I try to tell everyone how delicate the repair process

is and the things that can go wrong.  Luckily I have developed a

process that most old marbles can sustain - but there are some

that still have problems.

Work: I send pictures of the remaining repaired marbles.  The first

two pictures are of marble number 3 and the next two pictures are

of marble number 4.

The next 3 pictures are of the repaired marble number 3 followed

by 3 pictures of the repaired marble number 4.

My email to the person:  #4 was a problem.  Neither one of us

saw that this poor little thing had 2 BIG cracks in it.  Cracks cause

long slivers of bubbles to happen when reheated.  The problem is

that I can't get into the glass below the outer color rings.  So I try

to heat them up really melting hot to turn them into bubbles of air

IF I can.  You'll see that the line of bubble stayed a line.

Person: I am not concerned about bubble lines. 

You have brought back the beauty of the marbles. 

These are wonderful and how much do I owe you.

Reply: I tell them the cost of the work + postage and they

pay me
through PayPal.

Person:  These are wonderful, even better in person! 

I never expected to see the real
beauty within.  I can't

thank you enough for repairing these
marbles for me.