We checked out Bethlehem Burners at the Glassroots art show and were quite impressed with their line of torches. We gave ‘em a call and learned quite a bit about this awesome company!
Bethlehem Burners has its origins in the historic Bethlehem Steel Company of Pennsylvania. Bethlehem Steel was the largest shipbuilding company in the country in the early 1900’s and Henry Nieman, Bethlehem Burners’ founder, was employed there. He worked as an engineer, amongst the great blast furnaces. He used his knowledge of creating precise and regulated flames to start his own company making bench burners for the scientific glass industry. This endeavor eventually shifted to producing torches for the art community, a move that would then become the focus of Bethlehem Burners.
Originally, torches from Bethlehem Burners were made from copper and brass, since these materials were easy to machine and shape. No one has ever accused copper of being particularly sturdy, however, so Bethlehem Burners revamped their production methods and systems to work in stainless steel. The new generation of torches are much stronger and sleeker. Additionally, the new port designs allow a wider range of flame shapes that are kinder to glass.
For fifty some years, Bethlehem Burners primary customer was the scientific community, a group that has little problems in securing a steady supply of oxygen to work with. These larger corporations simply did not need to be conservative with the amount of oxygen being used to get to target heat. As they shifted to the glass art community, however, they needed to find ways to dramatically increase the efficiency of the oxygen usage in their torches as their new customers were individual artists and artisans. To a person making jewelry or functional glass in a home studio, the price of oxygen could become pretty daunting. Individual flame workers began to use oxygen concentrators to wring as much use as possible out of their O2. Seeing this need, Bethlehem Burners adapted their current (and redesigned their older) torch designs to accommodate this growing demand. Bethlehem torches are built to be able to use the lower pressure and velocity inherent to concentrators.
What else is hot at Bethlehem Burners? Well, aside from puns, the company has recently finished their relaunch of torches and have begun to think about new ways to get creative with their products. In the works currently are customizable, individual torch bases with built in gas and oxygen regulators, hoses, etc. This would put the ability to easily adjust and reconfigure a torch at the artist’s fingertips!
Bethlehem Burners fills a much needed niche in the torch industry: Their 60 years of experience making torches has been used to create bench burners for every single style of glass artist. They are high quality torches at a wide range of price points. Check them out in the store: BORO, TORCHES & MORE!