So many people have asked me how I make the glass pieces that I do that I thought I would begin a page with some photos of the whole deliciously messy but greatly satisfying process!

For Starters: Gathering the raw material i.e. the glass comes from going around on council pick up evenings when everyone puts their no longer needed stuff out on the pavement for the council to collect and take to the tip. I become a bit of a bohemian hunter gather…

 Glass on the side of the road 001

But not all glass comes from that ‘side of the road’ source… much is purchased from my wonderful supplier as offcuts and sometimes when times are really dire, I have to even get him to cut me pieces out of the virgin stock!

Then comes the mould making. This is a really fun part. Messy and creative but really enjoyable.

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This picture was a recent mould making day with my friend and associate, glass artist Sharon, at her beautiful property in the Hills District, north of  Sydney. You will notice that we are outside as the materials we work with are pretty toxic, thus the masks and gloves etc… but what better place than to work on our ‘movable table’ and have the dogs for company!

Fortunately we can re-use mould over and over again. Although the ones made from fibre board are very fragile, the ones I use that are ceramic or metal are pretty durable. So having created the basic shape and dimensions that you want the work to be, the next step is the detail. There are a number of techniques that I use but all rely on the mould being coated in kiln wash which has a releasing agent in it so that after the glass has slumped into the mould it will be able to come out again. Then details are added like in the pictures below.

 2nd Hornsby firing 6.10.09 009

These pieces are laid out in the kiln ready for firing. You can see that they have their glass on the top which will slump down and in the case of the diamond platter, there are also pieces of glass on the mould that will be melted into the overall design.

Cutting the glass for each piece is where some of the real skill comes in. I work with mostly with 6mm and 10mm thick glass, the latter is often extremely difficult to cut even with the best tools. Circles in 10mm thick glass can be a real challenge as you can imagine. Just to put the thickness into context, most glass artist who are using coloured glass like Bullseye use only 3mm thick glass and then often layer it to achieve a heavier piece. Window panes are usually 3mm thick, so my 10mm glass is at least 3 times thicker than a window pane. Most coffee tables or dining room table made of glass will be 10 or 12mm thick.

Finally the firing of the glass.I use two or three different kilns to get different effects. The one I use the most often is a kiln made specifically for glass work with all the elements in the top of the kiln for even heat distribution. Pottery kilns also work well but you have to spend time getting to know each individual one as they are more likely to have hot spots or cooler areas in them and this will effect the outcome of the glass that you fire. Finally if you are thinking of buying a kiln to do glass work, do yourself one very important favour… buy one with a controller! Because there are many stages that the glass has to go through during the firing, it is sooooo much easier to enter the variables into a controller than to remember to come back to the kiln to change things during the firing. e.g. drop the temperature from the melting point, down to the annealing point. etc.

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