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My Books
These books may be purchased from Schiffer Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target and in many other fine stores.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

What is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that is used when there is a fear of breakage if standard glass had been used. Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than standard glass. When it breaks, it breaks into thousands of tiny (about 1/8 inch)pieces versus large sharp pointed pieces. This is why it is used in applications like shower doors, skylights, windows, and refrigerator shelves. However, you do still need to wear gloves when handling broken tempered glass since it can be a little sharp.

This type of glass is manufactured through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling, making it harder than normal glass. Recycled glass artists can use this type of glass in casting (after it is broken and therefore, no longer tempered). I often obtain large sheets of donated tempered glass and then need to break it up in order to stack it into a plaster/silica mold.

First, I place a sheet of plastic on the floor that is a little larger than the glass sheet. I then lay the glass sheet flat on top of it. I next take a pointed metal hole punch (see photo above) or a screwdriver with a pointed tip and hammer in the same exact spot. It can take several minutes of hammering and you must keep the point of your tool in the exact same position. Eventually you will see a small chip in the glass and you continue to hammer the metal tip into this glass chip. You will soon hear this loud pop sound and crackling noise as thousands of little cracks expand throughout the glass piece. You can also use a drill with a bit for drilling a hole.

Taking ordinary glass into a tempered state involves heating the glass in a special furnace to approximately 1260degrees Fahrenheit then setting a permanent tension between the glass “core” and outer surfaces by rapidly cooling the glass in a high pressure quench. So when fully tempered glass is broken, the release of tension between the surfaces initiates a cascade of much smaller glass fragments than ordinary annealed glass. It is very difficult if not impossible to create large sheets of tempered glass in non-factory type glass studios.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Art Advice 101-Websites

At this point in time, there really is no excuse for any professional artist to not have a website presence. However, you do not need to hire someone to create a site for a lot of money if you already know how to save and upload photos. There are many online software programs that make the creation of a website painless. I use which is $4.95 a month and allows for a ton of photo storage. The software also has a lot of elaborate features but it is still easy to use.

While you will need at least a few photos of you work, you also need to maintain a list of current and upcoming exhibitions and events in which you will be participating. You also must have an email address where people can contact you.

People who visit your site want to know what medium you work in and to get a sense of your style and motivation. If you work in contemporary cast recycled glass sculpture, note that on your site.

You can also go the blog route for your art and get a free one from However, be aware that each new posting that you do will move the prior posting down the list and eventually archive it to an index (visible on the blog) at the end of the month. So someone may have to search your blog for more than a few seconds to find some of your work. I use both a blog (that is related to my specialty in recycled glass) and a website.

There are also numerous sites where you can obtain a free counter. I have used Bravenet free counters for years and their counters will allow you to see the last ten visitors to your site. You can also upgrade to a paid version that will allow you to see all visitors from the last year. A counter is useful if you are doing a major event and want to know if the word is getting out to the public.

While a counter will only give you the IP address of your visitor, you can paste that IP number into a free IP address lookup like or By doing so, you will obtain the approximate city and state of the visitor.

So, now you have a website and you are done, right? No!!!!! You need to submit your website address to major search engines so it can be added to their index of sites. While you will sometimes see ads offering to submit your website to 400 or more search engines for hundreds of dollars, you really only need to submit it to three to five major search engines. And you can do this yourself for free and it will only take a few minutes!

For Yahoo, see and for Google, see

The submission form is typically one page and asks for a brief description of your site, key words and one to six meta search tags. Remember that people may not always recall your last name when searching for your artist site, so use both specific and general terms in your site description and search tags. Once you submit this info to three to five major search engines, the smaller search engines will eventually pick up on the content from the larger search engines. However, be patient. It took at least four months for my website to be approved and start appearing in general searches (such as recycled glass Washington DC).

One way to move your website up the search rankings, is to update your content frequently. If you do this and have a counter, you will eventually be blessed by visits to your site from the "googlebot." The googlebot is not a spammer but google crawling and indexing the web and your site. My art blog is updated often and I typically receive at least one visit a day from the googlebot.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Artist Mark Wotherspoon and Recycled Television Glass

While a number of us toil away with bottle glass and plate and window glass, Australian artist Mark Wotherspoon creates cast glass sculpture with television glass. His large cast glass figures are some of the most technically challenging and inspirational recycled glass work that I have seen to date.

His website is at

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recycled Glass Artist Mira Woodworth

I came across the work of this California artist a while back and was impressed with her techniques. She uses hundreds of hand cut strips of window glass that are stacked into the shape of her piece (see the "River" series). She then hand gilds the work with metallic leaf.

You can see and purchase a number of her works at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update on the Dragonfly Installation in Barcroft Park

After a meeting with various Arlington County Park officials today, we are well on track to have the metal work and the glass dragonflies and the center concrete and glass vessel installed by the end of June. For the recycled glass castings, my work has moved from the "work till you drop stage" to more of the fun sandblasting and final coldworking of the final 20 castings.

The forty dragonflies will be up on metal t-bars (possibly aluminum) and a metal plate in the shape of each dragonfly will be welded to the top of each t-bar. The dragonflies will then be affixed to the metal plates. We are still exploring the best type of adhesive to use since it must be able to expand and contract with the glass but also firmly adhere the work to prevent theft. The lower parts of the metal t-bars will be set in a concrete footing below ground.

The mound still has to be roto-tilled to remove the larger stones.

This public art project will be the first kiln-cast recycled glass project (non-panel project) in the United States that uses multiple types of post-consumer recycled glass and a special element to be revealed later. Other completed non-panel projects have used just one type of recycled glass (such as cast float glass). The castings are made from green bottles (two colors); blue bottles (this glass is very hard to find); tempered (formerly) window glass; and plate glass (both clear and black tinted).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An Amazing Early Bottle Glass Artist--Jason Pethick

I regularly read an artist blog called Olympia Dumpster Divers at and learned about this artist's work which is currently on exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Jerry Pethick’s Le Semeur/Sunlight and Flies, 1984/2002 is made with (recycled) glass bottles, silicone, rubber corks, aluminum, and a surveillance mirror.

Born in 1935, Pethick passed away in 2003 from cancer. His work is affiliated with Catriona Jeffries Gallery in Vancouver, Canada.

Hank the Singing Bottle is Endlessly Recycled

150 Pulverized Glass Recycling Facilities in the United States

I came across an interesting article that referenced the number of pulverized glass recycling centers in the United States.


Glass recycling now available in Santa Rosa County (Florida)

Discarded glass has a new purpose with Santa Rosa County announcing the start of a new glass recycling program.

"As one of only an estimated 150 pulverized glass recycling facilities in the United States, glass jars and bottles placed in home curbside recycling containers collected by Waste Pro or deposited at one of the 27 recycling areas around the county, will have a new use as a gravel or sand product. The recycled glass is safe for people, pets and marine life and has numerous uses including landscape material, filtration and drainage material, aggregative mix, asphalt and cement fill, and as a decorative and art material.

An Impact 100 Grant awarded to Santa Rosa Clean Community System funded the purchase of the glass pulverizing machine which removes labels and tops and produces both a gravel and sand product. The glass gravel and sand have no sharp edges and come in a variety of colors including green, brown, blue, mixed and clear.

Initially, the recycled glass will be used at various government and non-profit sites to introduce the many uses of recycled glass to the public. Sometime after September 2010, the gravel and sand will be available to the public at "innovation stations" in limited amounts at no charge by Santa Rosa Clean Community System. As the process is refined and larger amounts of glass are collected through residential recycling, agreements with restaurants and bars, and other landfills that do not have glass recycling capability, the recycled glass gravel and sand will be marketed and sold. Profits will be used to help continue recycling efforts in Santa Rosa County."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Australian Artist Luna Ryan Uses TV Glass to Cast Sculpture

Black Plate Glass Dragonfly with Thompson Enamels

I added white enamel (window glass compatible) to the wings and cobalt enamel to the body. The original glass was black plate glass that an auto window repair place was going to throw away. The auto window business referred to it as "bronzed glass." The enamels were fully melted by 1360 degrees. I placed the white enamel only on top of the wings since I wanted the texture and color of the original glass to be visible.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Secret "Easter Eggs" in Art?

Throughout the history of art, it has been common for artists in all mediums to leave secret messages in their works. These secret messages are called "Easter Eggs" due to the need to look for them to find a surprise. The message can be humorous, entertaining, technical related, or refer to innuendo. They can be found in paintings, sculpture, books, movies, video games, programs, songs, CDs, DVDs and blogs and websites. For example, if you roll your cursor over the photos on, you will find a funny comment on the photo.

There will be a secret Easter egg in some of my dragonfly recycled glass sculptures. However, it will be up to you to find it after the project is installed in June.

Vetrazzo Recycled Glass Countertops

Although there are a number of manufacturers of recycled glass counter tops, Vetrazzo seems to be one of the more well known companies. This video shows a good range of their products and shares where they get their glass.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Applying Thompson Enamels

Thompson enamels makes lead free glass products in various particle sizes for metals and glass. I use the medium temperature-low expansion enamels for window glass and 400 series stainless steel. The coefficent of expansion is 80-83 so these enamels should still be pretested on your recycled glass.

Although I had used window glass compatible colored frit as a top surface accent in my castings, it did not show up as well as I wanted on the darker glass (dark green and black glass). So I decided to add more of a lighter or whitish look to distinguish the wings from the body. I also added enamels to brighten the color of the bodies.

Process wise, I buy the powdered form of the enamels and sprinkle it fairly heavily on the top of a sandblasted and sanded dragonfly casting. Since I am refiring a finished casting, it must be fired extremely slow up to around 1360 degrees or it will crack. I am using a schedule of 50 degrees per hour, hold for an hour or more at 1100 degrees, 60 degrees per hour to 1350 and hold for 5 minutes and then back down at the same rate (and hold again at 1100 degrees for an hour or more). **Remember that kilns can vary temperature wise and so can the size of the glass casting, so the enamels could melt at slightly different temperatures. Remember to experiment and record your results!

The enamels start to melt prior to the threshold temperature of 1400 degrees (instructions state 1400-1500 degrees) so holding at 1360 degrees for 15 minutes (or less) has been sufficient to thoroughly melt the enamels yet maintain the shape of the casting. But if are working with thinner glass that is going up in temperature much faster, it may take longer to melt the enamels.

You can also mix the enamels with a binder (Thompson's carries several types of oil, agar and an agent called Klyr-Fire) so you can apply them like a paint which works well for non flat surfaces. There are many colors available including ones that are very close in color to the fired greenish-blue color of recycled window glass. These enamels add a lot of shine to your glass work.

I will post a photo of the fired enamels next time.