6 Glass commission techniques from Stained to Architectural Glass

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There are hundreds of glass artists creating wonderfully vibrant glass commissions for private and commercial clients around the world. Glass itself is a magical sustainable material, made from sand, soda ash and limestone with a large proportion of the glass made from recycled glass.

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Glass Commission techniques guide:
There are many ways and techniques of creating art with glass. Almost all handmade glass art falls into one of three main categories: hot glass, warm glass or cold glass. A few of these techniques are explained below:

Blowing Glass
Glass blowing is a hot glass technique. Glass is heated to a temperature of around 2000 degrees where it becomes a hot liquid. Pipes are then inserted into the liquid and air is blown into the pipe to create a bubble in the liquid glass. The bubble can then be shaped as desired.

Casting Glass
Glass casting is also a hot glass technique. Crushed glass or a powdery glass paste known as ‘paste de verre’ is heated to form a liquid. The liquid glass is ladled into a mold and then cooled to solidify. Alternatively the paste can be placed into the mold and set in a kiln. As the paste melts it enters all the crevices of the mold. It is then removed from the kiln and cooled in the mold. Various molds can be used, the most common being sand, graphite or metal.

Fusing Glass
Glass fusing is a warm glass technique. This involves heating the glass in a kiln to temperatures between 700’C and 820’C. Fusing glass is a process of joining pieces together in various ways. They can be tacked together at a low temperature where each piece keeps its original shape or they can be fused together at a higher temperature where all pieces meld formlessly into one another.

Painted Glass
Painted glass is a cold technique. It involves painting the glass using vitreous enamel. Vitreous enamel is made by fusing powdered glass with a substrate by firing it. Once painted onto the vessel, the paint is fixed to the glass by light firing it. This technique is often used on small intricate items like jewelry and vases.

Stained Glass
Stained Glass is also a cold technique and usually does not even involve light firing. Coloured pieces of glass are cut to shape and held together by pieces of lead. Once all the glass pieces have been placed, black paint is used to outline the images and create detail.

Architectural Glass
Architectural glass is glass used as a building material. It is most commonly used as windows in exterior walls but can also be used as partitions or features. The cold glass technique of etching is often used. Etched, or frosted, glass refers to glass that has had its surface etched away or roughened to create an opaque effect. This can be done in one of two ways: Acid etching or sandblasting. Acid etching involves applying an acid such as hydrofluoric acid, to the surface of the glass. This creates a matte finish and gives the glass a translucent quality. Sandblasting involves air blasting fine grit such as aluminum oxide or silica carbide onto the glass. Etched glass is often used in architecture when both light and privacy are needed such as bathroom windows.

Casting and Mold Making
To be able to cast glass one needs the appropriate mold. Molds are either one piece, two piece or multi piece and can either be reusable or one time only molds. Creating a mold is a multi-step process. Molds can be made from many different materials such as sand, graphite, metal, silica, fiberglass or plaster. Molten glass can be poured into the molds and cooled, or molds containing crushed glass or ‘paste de verre’ can be placed in a kiln to melt and take the shape of the mold. They are then removed from the kiln and cooled.