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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recycling vs. "Up-cycling"

I came across an interesting article that distinguished between recycling and "up-cycling." "Up-cycling" involves creating a more expensive product from lower priced items. I think all artists who use recycled materials are automatically "Up-cyclers."

Read the article at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Concrete and Glass Center Vessel

As I mentioned earlier, the recycled glass dragonflies will all be above the ground and will appear to be flying towards a center concrete and glass vessel. Since I had not worked with concrete in a while, I thought it was best to make one or two smaller prototypes first. The final casting will be 32-36 inches across and about 4 inches thick.

I am going to dig a large hole in the center of the ground (see the photo of the mound in the park in a prior post) and fill it with a layer of sand. I will then spread out the wet concrete to a depth of two inches, add heavy chicken wire for reinforcement, then add two more inches of concrete. A tan colorant is being added to the wet concrete mixture to give it a more natural pond like look. Broken bits of tempered glass (both clear and colored with a blue enamel) will be added to the wet concrete mixture also. It will probably take a week to thoroughly set. I will gently sand the vessel to expose the glass bits. The vessel will have holes in it for drainage and will weigh over 200 lbs.

As you can see in the small test casting below, the look was really organic since I cast it in sand. It was cast upside down as well and flipped over after setting while the final one will be cast right side up in place. I need to make some adjustments to the next prototype. I attempted to mix some larger glass pieces into the casting but they were too large and the larger ones placed on the bottom fell off. So by mixing in the much smaller glass pieces, this should work much better. The things I expected to be the problem like the metal cage part and being able to cover it correctly were not a problem at all. The only issue is the glass size. The sample in the pic 16 inches and 1 3/4 inch deep.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Most Expensive Item in Your Studio---The Glass Kiln

The purchase of a glass kiln is likely to be your largest expense for your studio. Glass kilns come in all shapes and sizes. They can be "front loading" meaning they have a door that opens like a refrigerator door or "top loading" meaning you have to flip open a heavy lid with elements. The front loading kilns tend to be much more expensive. Always try to buy the largest kiln you can afford and for which you have sufficient space. I guarantee you that if you opt for a smaller one, you will regret it a month later.

I have a Jen Ken electric glass kiln that uses a 20 inch round shelf and is about 11 inches deep. Mine opens from the top. Most glass kilns are far more shallow than ceramic kilns and have elements on both the top and sides. An electronic controller is really essential for any glass kiln. The electronic controller allows me to create unique programs for each glass project. I can program it to increase the temperature a certain rate per hour, to hold at certain temperatures and to decrease temperatures at a specifed rate.

Note that the larger glass kilns are typically 240 volt so you may need to have an electrician install a special outlet and wiring.

Larger glass kilns also have something called a "peep hole" on the side which is a 2-3 inch clear window for viewing what you have on the kiln shelf.

Although I rarely fire clay in my glass kiln, remember that not all glass kilns go high enough to fire ceramics. Some glass kilns only reach 1700 degrees since glass is typically fired at a temperature much below 1700 degrees. Ceramic kilns are made to fire various types of clay which require temperatures over 2200 degrees or higher. If you use your glass kiln for ceramics, you will need to replace your kiln elements more often. If you are using a lot of plaster/silica molds, remember to vacuum all the loose particles after each firing.

When I transitioned from using fusible art glass to recycled glass, I noticed that my kiln shelf cracked and had to be replaced every few months. I assume it was due to the much higher temperatures needed to melt recycled glass.

I also have a smaller kiln (Evenheat)with a 6 inch square shelf that I use for jewelry and to test compatibility of different pieces of recycled glass.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Depot and Recycled Glass Countertops?

Home Depot will soon be carrying recycled glass counter tops. From the description I read, it appears they will not be 100% solid glass but will be made from recycled glass and porcelain and feature environmentally friendly resin. I bet these will be a big hit!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Barcroft Park: Future Site of the Recycled Glass Sculptures

I am creating approximately forty large cast recycled glass dragonflies that will be located in the round area pictured below. However, these dragonflies will not be placed on the ground. While I do not want to give it all away, the dragonflies will be "about a foot off the ground" and will appear to all be flying towards a center vessel. The title of the installation is "destination."

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Stretching" Glass Bottles: Techniques Used by Glass Artist Ralli Jacob

I came across artist Ralli Jacob on YouTube and this is the first time I have seen this technique for recycled glass bottles. He heats them in a glass blowing furnace and stretches and manipulates them into taller and more abstract shapes. The video is below.