Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Glass working techniques: Cold, Warm and Hot

Cold, Warm or Hot?

If you are just getting started working with glass, there are a few things that are helpful to know. I always started off my beginning fused glass and mosaic classes with a quick overview of techniques and terms. I found that most people don't know the different ways of working with glass, and sharing this information helped them understand how different glass art is created. 

I'd like to share that information here, too. I organize this information in three broad categories: cold work, warm glass, and hot glass. I also describe different techniques within each category.

First, there's cold work. Cold work is when the glass is cut and laid without changing the form of the glass, as in heating it to change the shape or color of the glass. Cold work techniques include glass mosaics, copper foil stained glass, and lead came stained glass, etching and sandblasting. Cold working techniques are more WYSWYG than warm or hot techniques. This is a short video of how to solder a lead glass came from Inland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDH26XNEfLQ. (Inland is a company that makes glass tools and equipment.)

Next is warm glass, or fused glass. Warm glass artwork is created using layers of glass heated in a kiln. There is a wide variety of heating schedules or firings that glass artists use to create different final effects. Often warm glass projects take more than one firing before the project is finished. For instance, a bowl will start off with two layers of glass that are full fused in one firing, meaning that both layers of glass (and any embellishments) are completed incorporated in a flat state and the edges are smooth. In the next firing, the flat full-fused piece is placed either in or on a mold and the piece is fired again. Two firings are necessary because the amount of heat it takes for a full fuse is much higher than the amount of heat it takes for the glass to become soft enough that it takes the shape of the mold. Glass fusing is very popular, and new products and techniques are constantly being developed. 

Drape mold vase, P. MacLeod

Hot glass techniques are the most dramatic. Hot glass work is done when the glass is in its most liquid state and is the most exciting technique to watch. Glass blowing, Murrini pulls or canes, and torch work (bead making) are all hot glass techniques. Working with hot glass requires specialized tools, equipment and safety precautions. This is a good example of what working with hot glass is like with a torch from Woodstock Art Glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVbKtcyhqjg (Pets should not be allowed where people are working with glass--hot or cold.)

I found that after reviewing this basic information, people not only knew more about the categories of glass work, but they had a better idea of what we would be doing in class. My long-term goal was to educate people who love glass so that they appreciate the art work and support glass artists.

May your scores always run true.

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