Friday, August 30, 2013

Notes From the Glass Studio: Making Glass Flow

This is a new piece that Scott launched into after last week's debacle.

Scott doesn't let anything slow him down for long, not even the disappointment of seeing one of his projects come out of the kiln broken. He immediately started cutting class to make three more similar projects.

Meanwhile, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to capture photos of his technique!

Scott starts out by cutting strips of glass and then tack-fusing them together into blocks.

These blocks are made of periwinkle, white and aventurine blue glass (the latter looks almost black in this photo), and were used to make the piece in the top photo on this blog post.

Scott brought a few of those blocks into the house, and they totally mystified Ellie, who wanted to know how he glued the glass together. But they weren't -- they were tack-fused, which means they were in the kiln at a high enough temperature to begin to make the glass soften but not so hot or long enough to make it completely molten.

It takes lots of those blocks of glass to make a 9-inch-diameter bowl.

These are enough for two separate projects.
Once those blocks of glass strips are ready, it's time to let them flow.

First, Scott had to find a way to contain the molten glass since he wants his piece to be about three layers of glass thick. There's something about the physics of glass that makes it want to be about 6mm (or two layers) thick and it will automagically either flow out or pull in to try to make itself 6mm. So if you want your glass to be thicker than 6mm, you have to dam it to keep it from flowing out and thinning out.

Some people use steel rings, but they're expensive and you're limited to the sizes that someone else thought were best. So Scott made his own out of vermiculite.

To keep the glass from sticking to the vermiculite, Scott uses a ring of fiber paper. The pink underneath it is kiln wash on the shelf, which serves the same purpose as the fiber paper. 

The vermiculite is bulkier than steel rings (and takes up more shelf space!), but it's more affordable and certainly far more customizable.

The blocks of glass are positioned on a circle of clear glass. 

After arranging the glass blocks on the kiln shelf, it was time to put it all in the kiln and turn up the heat.

It's flowing!  Note: If you have a kiln of your own, don't open it when the glass is molten like this unless you have eye protection!

And then it's done with its first step. Next will come adding a border, using a sandblaster to get rid of the devit, fire polishing and, finally, slumping it into a bowl.

So pretty, isn't it? Scott really achieved his goal of making something that looked like a rose. 

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