Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ten Basic Steps for Making Cast Glass Leaves: Serenbe Installation: 59 days

I loaded ovens this evening. It took a while to get the glass loaded into the moulds. So, here is the process. I will post more pictures of the process in a future post, probably tomorrow.

  1. Make an original model or pattern
  2. Invest (pour) plaster into the mould (creates negative space in which to put glass)
  3. Remove the pattern material
  4. Dry the mould
  5. Apply kiln wash to the mould & cure
  6. Wash and dry the glass that will be used
  7. Determine how much glass it will take to fill the mould (on a future post)
  8. Weigh the glass
  9. Fill the mould
  10. Fire the kiln

The Cast Glass Serenbe Project Installation: 54 days

Ok, I published this post on 9/3/2008, but don't see how to re-list it with its' correct date. Enjoy.

During this project there are a lot of studio processes that I have had to refine. I'm showing one today. These pictures show a process that I use after I have determined the weight of the glass that it will take to fill the mould.

Basically what I worked out is that I number the moulds, for this project, then I number the leaves that are in that mould. For example, in the mould to the left, mould no. 3, I numbered each leaf in that mould. Then, after I have determined the weight of glass that goes in each leaf (a process for another post), I don't have to weigh it each time. I just replicate what I did before.

This system has worked well for me, since I have several different moulds for The Serenbe Project. I made a total of 11 different leaf patterns. Since I keep a notebook page for each mould number, after I calculate the weight of glass needed for each leaf, I write that down on the page with that particular mould information. The next time that I cast in that mould, I just look the info up in my notebook, that gives me the total amount of glass that I need to fill each leaf in the mould, I weigh the glass, fill the mould and fire. I also mark the mould each time that I fire to casting temps (1500+degrees). This will enable me to track the performance of this mould material and I can determine how many times I can re-fire the mould. It also gives you more reliable cost information for calculation of retail pricing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

60 days: The Serenbe Project

After the Bullseye glass cullet is washed and dryed, I store it like this next to the kiln and the scale so that when I get ready to weigh the glass, I can load the scales, weigh the glass and load the mould from the same place. Also, I don't have to move the moulds as they are very heavy.

This is Bullseye casting cullet on the left and Bullseye casting billets on the right. Bullseye is some of the best glass made. The billets have been cut on the wet saw, then washed, then stored

Ok, if the cullet is too large, it has to be made smaller and I do this with a sledge hammer and a garbage compactor bag (because they are thick bags). Safety glasses are a must.

I'm crushing the glass a bit here to make it smaller. The very small frit I use to help secure the wire.

What I thought would be a good idea was to blog about the remainder of the time from now until installation at Serenbe. There is somewhere around 60 days left until installation and today is DAY 60.
Tonight I applied kiln wash to the new 21" diameter mould and the wash will cure at 500 deg. I left the lid of the kiln propped open until it reaches around 120 and then I will completely close it. Another oven is just about ready to be unloaded (leaves). I added some amber color to these leaves. I left the lid open a bit on this oven also so that it would cool about 10 more degrees. Then I will remove the leaves from the mould, reload the mould and fire again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Glass Studio Processes and The Serenbe Project

These moulds pictured are still for The Serenbe Project. Take a minute and visit the Serenbe Community, it is a delightful place. After the clay model is removed from the glass mould, the moulds have to be checked to make sure there are no undercuts (places where the glass can become lodged). This pictures on the blog tonight show how I finish the moulds.

You can see the greenish gray area on the top edge of the mould. That is leftover clay that has to be removed. I finish removing the clay, and sand down the glass moulds

This is how I finish the edges and remove the remaining clay.

I then brush out the mould to make sure that it is clean before taking a warm damp rag to go over it one more time.
After the mould is cleaned like this, it is ready to be placed in the kiln to be force-dried.
I found these cool little paintbrushes at Harbor Freight Tools. They are good for a lot of things in the studio and they are so inexpensive, I just throw them away!

At this point, the mould is still very wet. The plaster material with which I invest the mould has a very short working time (under 10 minutes on a cooler day). This means that most days in the South, you better have your plan together when you begin to mix, because on a 95 degree day with high humidity, the working time is more like 5-6 minutes. I still like this material very much.
These glass leaves will be installed at Serenbe in late October.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cast Glass and The Serenbe Project

A quick post tonight because I have to get back to work. Last post, I discussed the problem with the wires as the glass becomes molten. I came up with a solution, which was great! Here are a couple of pictures that I took right after these leaves came out of the kiln tonight. The important thing was that the wire extend from inside the glass in the middle not on the edge where the glass is thinner. It worked!

This mould is the round one to fit the kiln. It has been force-dried and is ready to be cured at 1475 degrees for this kiln.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Serenbe Project

This was a very busy day in studio doing more work on The Serenbe Project , which will be installed toward the end of October. In case you have not read any of my earlier posts about The Serenbe Project , hop over there and check it out.

I was having trouble with the wires, which are embedded in the cast leaves, "falling" to the side. I came up with this solution, shown on the right, I drilled a little hole in the mould, and placed the end of the wire in the hole. So, when the other end of the wire is embedded in the glass, the drilled end acts as an anchor.

This is a close-up of the moulds and the embedded wires. This seems to have solved the problem.
I'm washing all of the cullet, getting it ready to place in the moulds. After I wash the glass, I put the glass in containers which are placed close to the kiln so that it is ready to weigh and place in the mould. This glass is Bullseye cullet for casting.

The other problem that I had was that the moulds that I had made were wasting kiln space (and electricity). The way that I solved this problem was to design a mould that was the exact size of the kiln shelf, which means that it used all of the available kiln space. I "dammed" the plaster with aluminum roof flashing mounted on a round piece of wood (this kiln shelf is round).

This is the new round mould which looks like it was a good solution. The clay leaves have just been removed (to the left of the mould). After trimming the mould with a dremel,
and cleaning the clay residue off of the inside of each leaf cavity, the mould was put in the kiln to dry it. This will take about 2 days. I blogged before about the Castalot mould material that I'm using. I really like this mould material.

More Bullseye glass being washed.

Beautiful Bullseye glass ,washed and ready to fill a mould!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Preparing Kiln Wash and Coating a Mould

A couple of people have asked me how I prepare kiln wash and apply it to the kiln floor, kiln shelves and the moulds for The Serenbe Project. This time when I used the kiln wash, I took pictures of the process so that I could post here.
I mix my kiln wash according to the manufacturer's instructions, which was 4:1 in this case.
I mix kiln wash, a bucket at a time, so that when I need it, it is ready. I measure out the water that I need and the amount of kiln wash that I need. For example, if I have 12 cups of water, then I would measure out 3 cups of kiln wash. I always put the water in the bucket first and then sprinkle the kiln wash on the top of the water.

The picture (above right) shows the kiln wash floating on top of the water (before being stirred).

This picture (above) shows the kiln wash after I have stirred the wash some.

After I have stirred for 20 minutes or so, or until it dissolves, I apply the kiln wash to the mould (in this case), kiln shelf or kiln floor. Using a hake brush, I saturate the brush, lightly run the brush over the rim of the bucket, then lightly brush the wash across the mould in lines going toward and away from me. When the first coat is absorbed, which will be quickly, I apply the second coat at a right angle to the first coat, so I'm painting this on from side to side for the second coat. For these moulds, I only put three very light coats of wash. The number of coats of kiln wash that you use depends on the application. On the floor of my kilns, I applied at least eight coats. I reapply kiln wash to the floor about once each year, depending on how much each kiln is used.

The mould on the left is a mould to which kiln wash has been applied, the mould on the left has not had the wash applied yet. The hake brush is on the right hand side of this picture. The other little brush that I use to coat the inside of the leaf cavity is an old BBQ brush.

After I finish applying the kiln wash, I place the moulds in the kiln and fire to 500 degrees to cure the wash, WITH THE LID SLIGHTLY PROPPED OPEN WITH A KILN POST. When you prop the lid open, this allow moisture to escape from the interior of the kiln. This is the manufacturer's directions for this wash. No matter what type of wash you use, you have to dry it in the kiln before you can fire on the shelf or the mould.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Return to Blogger

ok, a while back I wrote about blogging for artists and said that I had opened a blogging account with Go Daddy because they offered podcasting. The short story is taht I have returned to Blogger. I returned for several reasons. The primary reason is because the Go Daddy templates are very "fixed" (you know we artist do not like to be tied down), and because it is a very s l o w blogging servie. I was very disappointed with the service. Some of my friends told me that they checked my blog for studio updates, but they did not have all year for the images to's time to go!

This is a lesson learned. Blogger probably will add the podcast feature later because they do offer a good product and the price is great!I plan to customize the template that I use on blogger, but until then....I will just blog.