Techniques on How Glass is Shaped

Techniques on How Glass is Shaped

Glass is one of the things that you find all around us. If you haven’t realized, try noticing and you will find glass from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. From your window pane to your dining table, to the door of the building, the classy sculptures in the hotel lobby, and much more, it is everywhere.

This complicated and delicate craft has its roots deep down to centuries ago. The ideas that and techniques perfected ages ago by artists have made their way to modern times. The methods and techniques of creating some of the world’s most precious art pieces have been passed down through the centuries.

Types of glass

Out of the many types of glass, soda lime and borosilicate are most used.  Soda-lime is often called the “sold glass” while borosilicate is often called the “hard glass.”

Soda-lime is the most commonly used type. It is what makes ordinary containers, windowpanes, jars, bottles, and bowls. The latter, on the other hand, is more of a specialty glass. It is harder to make than traditional glass.  The melting point of borosilicate is higher and it is extensively used in glass blowing and lampworking.

Borosilicate makes a harder glass piece which is why it is the most ideal in making durable laboratory equipment like test tubes and beakers. It also makes cookware and telescope mirrors. It has extremely high physical strength, enough to handle radioactive wastes for disposal through vitrification.

Shaping glass can be done in many ways and techniques. It includes cold working, glass casting, fusing glass, lampworking, stained glass, and glassblowing.

Cold working

This is a technique artists use for both hard glass and soft glass like cutting, polishing, and sandblasting. The artist styles a formerly shaped glass by etching the glass piece with acid. Using diamond wheels, the artist can hand engrave on it or he can use acid to leave a matte finish on the glass piece.

Glass casting

This is the technique that uses soft glass. The artist can do it with a torch, at a furnace, or in a kiln. Using refractory sand, silica, or plaster, the artist makes a mold and then fills the mode with colored, patterned, or clear glass. It depends on the design and effects that the artist wants to achieve. Big sculptures are usually done in this way.

Fused glass

This is what we call a soft glass heated at 1099°F to 1501°F in a kiln to bond glass together. Most fused glass makes use of colors in creating simple images and patterns. Thin glass sheets are stacked and layered with colors to create eye-catching pieces.

These stacked glass layers are then placed inside the kiln for heating. In this process, the layers melt and start to bond together while the edges round and soften.

Fused glass is the glass shaping technique used to make glass art, jewelry, and tiles. The slumping process is responsible for the creation of larger functional pieces such as kitchenware, bowls, and ashtrays. Functional glass pieces undergo double firings. First fuses the glass in the kiln, second is the slump.

Stained glass

The products of this technique are widely used all over the world. When you go to churches and museums, it is not hard to find these glass pieces that are colorful and look like broken glasses formed into an image. These are simpler than other amazing stained products.

The glass is cut into specific patterns which will be attached together by a solder or lead cam. In creating patterns and textures, the artist also uses strategies with the kiln to change the glass’ overall shape.

Lampworking

Here, glass is formed using heat and manipulation, and an important component called propane/oxygen torches. It stands up to 5300°F and is worked by an artist sitting on a bench shaping it using glass tubes and various graphite and metal tools. This technique achieves higher levels when it comes to detailed design and detail.

Glass blowing

Lastly is the widely familiar glass blowing. An open-end blowpipe is first dipped into a furnace with a molten glass/crucible. It is manipulated into a basic shaper and blown to create form. Then, it is brought to the glory hole to be reheated repeatedly while designing.

Then, it is taken to a kiln/annealer to slowly and carefully cool down. There are various glass blowing techniques that have been developed to make advanced design. These glassblowing techniques create medium to very large art glass and a lot of useful functional sinks.

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