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Warm glass

Warm glass happens at about 1500 F; it is sometimes also referred to as bench-work b/c in the past, using an alcohol or oil flame with a blow-pipe, you could get temperature that melted glass. Hot glass aka glass-blowing happens above 2000+ F. If you do not watch closely, it looks almost like the glassblowers are using their hands to work the glass but what they use is newsprint folded about 6 or 7 times then a corner is removed because the paper is saturated with water and you need someplace for the steam to escape. I used to watch the artists at Philabaum’s glass studio (shout out to Tucson) for hours most days b/c hell 2200 f is beautiful to behold.

But I am here to talk about warm glass. First, for those interested, I found the least expensive microwave kiln to be about $35 and it include gloves, different kinds of glass, and a diamond file to take down those sharp corners (the way my cold-work instructor said it is that glass does not like 90 deg corners so you always want to round them off (it also prevents blood contamination). I do not like to point to Amazon because they are evil but sometimes.... so here is the link

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To my way of thinking, the $36 is plain if you spring for the $48.00 one you get gloves, glass, diamond file, glass cutter and so on. The gloves they send you are good for exactly 3 seconds of looking into the kiln, on the 4th second the gloves burn and on the 5th, your fingers so it is best to buy a set of padded/lined silicon glove (with silicon on both side - not like those right-handed gloves you see hanging in grocery stores). I do not get a referral payment for any site I point to. Now the glass that comes with the kiln can be used to make broaches, necklaces and so on. I still have all that glass b/c that did not interest me.

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I cast. this is where some complications appear - you want to make a puddle of glass that has a shape - hunh?? The easiest way to start is to find interesting ice-cube tray here are some of my trays:

Illustration for article titled Warm glass
Photo: Grumpy
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I am not the best photographer but what you see are Star Wars, Ninja Turtles and skulls; Darth Vader is difficult to cast due to the thin helmet piece but the trooper turns out really nice.

When you start with the tray - negative space, you will fill it with a reusable substance like wax or Composi-mold which is what I use because it is flexible, can be removed from the mold easily and reused. So you have cast trooper then pulled the casting out when it cools. For the next step I use yogurt containers b/c they are about the right size, they can be modified for what you need and tossed away. If you have ever thrown pots, the next step is to form some pottery material around the object you just made, I glue the trooper to the yogurt bottom, then pour the pottery material over the trooper and let it set. Pull the trooper out - the trooper is nice b/c it has no overhangs or undercuts to worry about. You do have to take an exacto knife and trim the edges that may have an over hang (you can feel it with your fingers. Then you use normal firing 50 F past schedules to set it. After you fire it slowly up to about the max your ovens can hit - usually about 575.

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Here is the composi-mold product

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It is a little less expensive and comes in a usable size in multiple plugs as opposed to the new stuff that comes in a container.full of the stuff.

When you start with a ice tray, there are 3 steps to getting what you want: Create a positive from the tray, create a negative using pottery material, then filling that mold with glass so you can create the positive you want. Sometimes you are not lucky enough to find a tray of what you want or you found something real interesting that is already 3d - sort of like these vermin

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Photo: Grumpy

Those are fleas, ticks, and lice. Being able to cast these is a bit different - you might be tempted to apply the casting material right on them, significantly reducing processing time but that method is fraught. What i did is drill a bunch of holes in a small, sealed box and stuck a vacuum hose into it creating a vacu-form. There are a number of ways to handle it from here. This takes 4 steps - you start with a positive, create a negative, fill negative with composimold to make a positive, then create another negative into which you pour your glass frit ·and stick it into the microwave. At this point I give it 6:66; this gets everything warmed up and ready for the 6:66 again. When you look, you will see glory - everything is about 1500 F and you can almost see through the mold, the glass has lost all semblance to what you started with. This will change as it cools and regains its original color. If a fire-proof trivet is not included with your kit, you can use any old trivet.

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They say never leave the piece to cool in the microwave but I do and have for 5 years w/o consequence. I ended up buying 3 of these - the first 6:66 heats up the kiln and the glass so if you go ahead and prep another mold, you can put the hot lid on the next project and place a cool lid on the just completed project, then place the new project in the kiln and hit 6;66 and it will ready on time. With 3 sets I would be able to produce 6 objects in an evening - slavishly responding to the dings.

This is the introduction, if anyone in interested in further instruction with more detail and a complete walk-through with pics.

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Is anyone still interested in the process? Any questions about what I have written so far - it is late at night, I have done my nightly drugs, so confusion is possible. If anyone interested is in Seattle, well - that can be discussed, I even have a bead-making setup.

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