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Making Glass Art

If you are interested in making Glass Art whether it's glass wall art, stained glass window art or glass bowls the information below will give you some insight in to what is required and hopefully inspire you to give it a go.

There are a number of techniques to chose from when you are making glass art.

Stained glass technique - Lead Lighting

A stained glass window in a church will be made up from a number of glass panels. Each panel has a pattern or a shape that will when placed with the full range of panels will create a full picture.

For stained glass window art, a stained glass panel used in a house may, for example be one complete panel.

Today stained glass panels are also hung in a window for decoration and to catch the light.

In order to make a panel, you select or design the pattern to be used.

Make a number of copies, select one as a template. Use cutting shears to cut the pattern. This way the cuts will be wide enough to ensure that the pattern does not grow in line with the addition of the width of the lead came.

The glass is then selected for each section of the panel, colours being chosen in line with the pattern or design.

The pattern is then used as a template in order to mark up the glass ready for cutting

The glass is cut using a glass cutting tool. Any rough edges are removed using a grinder.

Once the glass is cut, the panel is ready to construct.

* This is done by laying the pieces together in line with the pattern and using the lead came to frame and join each piece of glass. The lead came is held together by soldering the pieces together with a soldering iron once flux has been applied.

Cementing is then done on order to fix the glass panels in to the lead came

Whiting (which is a white powder) is then brushed over the panel to clean any excess cement.

The panel is then left to dry for 24-48 hours

Patina can be applied to make the panel look dated (this will occur naturally over time if patina is not used). Before applying patina, clean solder with wire brush.

Stained Glass technique - Copper Foiling

Making glass art through the copper foiling technique is similar to the stained glass technique up until point identified by a *. When you are ready to construct each piece of glass has copper foil attached around its edges.

The pieces are laid down in line with the pattern and flux is applied on to the copper foil. The pieces are then soldered together. The solder attaching to the copper foil. The pieces can then be used fr glass wall art or suncatchers.

Glass Blowing

There are two main methods of making glass art through glass blowing, the first is using a furnace. The furnace has 3 uses. The first to melt the glass in a crucible. This is done at over 1300 degrees.

A heated blow pipe is then used to gather the glass. The glass is then rolled on a marver to create an outer skin and to shape it. Air is then blown in to the glass to create a bubble. The blown glass can stay this size or, once you have created the air bubble, you can gather more glass and repeat the process. The glass piece can be shaped by using a number of tools; paddles, tweezers and shears. When you are happy with the shape you crate the bottom of the piece and then transfer the piece to a punty and finish the top. The glass is then placed in the furnace to cool slowly to avoid cracking.

Glass blowing with a lamp is similar and used for smaller pieces of work. The glass is placed on a hollow mandrel to blow and shape.

Glass Fusing

Glass fusing describes the process of making glass art through joining glass in a kiln. Glass over 820 degrees centigrade is soft as toffee. As pieces heat up they melt and then after a certain temperature turn more liquid. At first they stick together. On heating further they mix as one piece of glass.

Glass however is not all compatible. If you mix incompatible glass they expand and contract at different rates & you end up with cracks. So, when making glass art through fusing you need to make sure when you are choosing your glass that they are compatible.

Once you decide on your pattern you lay out layers of glass in line with the design.

You review the temperature required for the glass you are using and set the kiln controller to follow. There are slow and fast heating stages and slow and fast cooling stages to the process. Getting the incorrect heating pattern can cause disasters. Getting it right creates great artwork.

Once you have your piece of fused glass you can make is shiny, polishing it, by taking the glass to approx 720 degrees centigrade.

You can also make your glass in to a bowl, a light sconce or a glass sculpture by slumping the piece of glass over a mould.

Lampwork

One of the main uses of lampwork today is in making glass art beads. These are created by placing a mandrel in to bead release in order to coat the end of the mandrel.

A propane / oxygen torch is used. This is lit and the mandrel is heated in the flame. When hot, it is moved behind the flame. A glass rod is then heated in the flame. As the glass rod glows the rod is rotated to keep the heated part, which is now the consistency of honey, from falling.

The heated glass is brought to the coated art of the mandrel and sticks. Rotate the mandrel, winding the melted glass on to it.

When the glass on the mandrel is the correct size for you, pull the glass rod away, separating it from the glass on the mandrel.

Rotate in the flame until the bead is the shape you require. The bead can be shaped further with a graphite mandrel, tweezers or a bead shaper.

Once this is done bring the bead and mandrel away from the flame, continuing to rotate.

When the bead has stopped glowing, place in a fibre blanket or vermiculite until cool ( approx 30 minutes).

When cool remove the bead from the mandrel using pliers.

Any bead release residue can be removed using a small brush or pipe cleaners.

The art glass beads can then be used for making jewelry. Click on this link to see some examples of what can be achieved by making glass art


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