Using plaster elements in fused glass is an easy way to add variety to your basic stock of molds and shapes. The little plaster elements are made using a mold, and a mixture of pottery plaster and silica flour in a 1:1 ratio. However, you can also achieve excellent results with basic plaster of paris. (more…)
Kiln carving is another really versatile way to add texture and design to recycled glass artwork. Kiln carving refers to “carving” in the glass that takes place in the kiln during a firing cycle. Kiln carving utilizes fiber paper to make the actual design.
Fiber paper is a refractory material, looks much like paper toweling of felt, and is made from ceramic fiber with an organic sugar binder. This means it will smell funny when the binder burns off, I suggest venting the kiln to the outside if possible.
Fiber paper can be cut into shapes with scissors or with an X-acto knife, then placed under the glass and fused. I like to put the fiber paper in the mold, fire the glass using a full fuse schedule, but with a top temperature of 1485 (top fire) or 1500 (side fire). This gives you enough heat to full fuse, without slumping too far, and gives a nice finish on the edge.
Sometimes it is fun to just gear up and doodle on glass with an engraving tool. Typically, the engraving happens after the artwork is complete, so the lines are much more opaque and free form than the lines in the carved work featured here. I like to use my flex-shaft with a tiny diamond ball tip, and the same water set up as the glass carving.
Engraving can be a little tricky, since it is free hand, and the artwork isn’t usually flat. However, with a bit of practice, it is a nice way to expand your options.
Low E (emissivity) Glass is something of an interesting animal. I discovered by accident that it has some special properties.
Low E is the name for glass that is coated with thin metal films to reflect heat/light. There are two different types of coating, the “sputtered” coat, which uses up to three coats of silver sprayed on glass. This is called a “soft coat” and has to be sealed inside of a unit, typically filled with argon. The other type of coating is a pyrolitic coating, which has multiple layers of tin oxide and silver baked on the glass, i.e. a “hard coating”. (more…)
One of the things you learn very quickly when working with recycled materials is to never expect the same result twice. This can be a great thing from an artistic standpoint, because you really learn to roll with it rather than get all wound up in it.
This became obvious as I was getting wildly differing results from different windows using the same techniques.
After spending a lot of time researching window glass, I discovered that the glass manufacturing technique has a huge impact on the final results. Also, if you can ferret out what the method was, you can use these idiosyncrasies to your advantage. (more…)
Amazingly, you can use regular old dirt as an inclusion in glass art. Well, recycled glass art, I don’t know about that fancy schmancy art glass stuff.
Easy enough. Dig out a little pile of dirt from your yard. Put it in a terra cotta saucer and run it through a firing cycle. This burns off all of the organic stuff, that stuff that will smoke and cause bubbles in your artwork.
Then, you add the dirt in between layers of glass. Fuse as usual, and voila! One small insider trick: if you use tiny pieces of glass to prop the layers apart as you fuse, the air will escape and securely trap your dirt.
I learned this cool trick when I had a client who collects dirt from her various travels. Turns out dirt is different colors from all over the planet…until you fire it. Then it’s pretty much the same. Luckily we discovered this early on and didn’t destroy her unusual keepsakes.
Last January I had the pleasure of talking with Howard Skinner, the art teacher at North Rose Wolcott High School about the possibility of his students working with recycled glass. What a fabulous surprise to get photo’s of the projects. These students are doing some seriously cool glasswork.
From an artist’s point of view, this is really about the best thing that can happen. If my work and knowledge can inspire kids to branch out and explore, then I’m doing my job right! (of course, having an expert like Howard as your teacher helps too…)