Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fusing Recycled Glass, Part I

How can you keep your glass supply costs down and still create exciting work?

Face it. Glass is expensive. Whether you are a full-time artist, a hobbyist, or you sell your work to make money so you can buy more supplies, your on-going cost is glass. So I'm going to explore ways to keep your costs down with alternative sources and creative projects in a series of blog posts. Today I'm going to cover "trash glass", aka, anything thrown out. That could be bottles, window (float) glass, tempered glass, decorative glass, beach glass, and your own scrap glass.

Your approach to using discarded glass will be slightly different depending on your preferred technique. If you are a mosaic artist, you won't have to worry about the compatibility of the glass. But if you primarily work in fused glass, you will be very concerned about what and how you fire the glass you find.

All sources of glass need to be clean and separated. If you find a treasure of shattered tempered glass, sweep it up, put it in to a heavy duty plastic bag or paper bag, and then rinse the glass in a wire mesh sieve. Lay it out on paper or towels to dry. Then store your stash in a plastic container. It wouldn't hurt to date the glass, either. Once you've started a collection of this kind and you are concerned with compatibility, store each "find" separately.

Bottles make great sources of cheap glass. Lovely colors of light blue, cobalt blue, green and gold can be broken and tumbled to make beach glass. For fusing, in general if the bottles are from the same label (like Perrier), it should be safe to fuse those together. However, don't mix up a Perrier bottle with another bottle from another brand. There's no way to know what COE the glass might be. After soaking the labels off and drying the bottles COMPLETELY, store the bottles/glass you think you will fuse together in the same container. I will go over lots of neat ways to reuse wine, water, and beer bottles in a more detailed post later.
Molded wine bottle, P. MacLeod

My favorite recycled glass website is by Jodi McRaney. She specializes in kiln-carving and shares tutorials. I will interview her for a later post!

My new favorite way to reuse glass is to fuse scrap glass in a pot melt. If you are not familiar with this technique, it is very exciting! The mold has holes in the bottom, so you fill the mold with scrap glass, set the mold on posts, and fire. The glass drips through the holes and each firing can be completely different! Here's the mold:

And here's the mold "in action":

And here's a project I created from a pot melt:

We're just getting started! I hope this has opened some new avenues for you and your work.

May all your scores run true!


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