Friday, August 27, 2010

Experiments with warm glass

Well, even though I've been fusing and slumping glass for 3+ years (thanks to a great teacher at a local class), I'm still experimenting with new ways to accomplish my sometimes rather lofty goals. One of my former accomplishments was finally finding success in making a pair of glass chopsticks, something I had long wanted to do.

Creating a pair of glass chopsticks presented an interesting issue for someone whose sole experience with warm glass was limited to fusing and slumping, as neither technique was terribly useful. Fusing required some sort of mold, which I didn't have. But, what I do have is some experience and knowledge in ceramics and pottery so, I thought I could create a ceramic mold of my own. Well, that would also require me to fire said mold, and I'm still waiting on my husband (an electrical engineer) to finally install a 20-amp breaker for my larger ceramics-capable kiln. My glass kiln requires much less power, so can run with a 15-amp breaker.

Anyways, after realizing that making a mold still wouldn't get me to quite where I wanted to be, I went back to the drawing board and while trolling my favorite glass supplier's web site, an idea struck me. What if I took the same glass rods that bead makers use and heat them in the center while gently pulling them apart? Could it work? I didn't know, but it was worth a shot. So, I ordered some glass rods (along with requesting MSDS sheets for them) and set to work. Well, the technique actually does work. I'm in dire need of some graphite shaping tools, and my general inexperience with torches and glass showed on my first few tries, but I slowly developed the method into one that works consistently.

I suppose if I wanted to create longer chopsticks, I could simple heat and shape the ends of a single glass rod, cut to the size I want. Maybe one day I'll make chinese-style chopsticks this way :-). Below, you'll see a photo of one of my more creative ventures in chopsticks-making. This was a normal pair of pulled glass chopsticks that I allowed to become wavy during a short polishing/slumping cycle in the kiln while resting on a fiber blanket.