Saturday, June 21, 2008

On with the Art

Yes, that's Art with a capital A! I made my first wire melt!

Wire melts, pot melts, and aperture pours are all names for a hot glass technique that produces fairly unpredictable but completely awesome results. Instead of arranging the glass in a flat stack exactly how you want it to come out, you suspend a bunch of glass in the air, crank the kiln up to 1700 degrees, and let it flow in a viscous liquid down onto your kiln shelf, where it spreads out like a vitreous ganache.

If you have a tall kiln, you do a pot melt or an aperture pour. You load a vessel with glass, prop it above the kiln shelf using refractory bricks, and the glass dribbles through a hole in the bottom of the vessel. The vessel is commonly a clay flower pot, and I've read that Italian flower pots are preferable.

If you have a short kiln, like me, you do a wire melt. Since there isn't enough vertical room in the kiln for a pot, you make a hammock out of high-temperature kiln and suspend it between two refractory bricks which you have raised above the kiln shelf. You can then place largish chunks of glass in the hammock, and as it liquefies, it simply goes around the wire.

To Battle

Armed with and inspired by Prizmatic's wire melt tutorial and a suggested firing schedule, I decided to make an 8-inch round melt, which would be a nice dessert plate. Liquid glass likes to be one-quarter of an inch thick, so I calculated how much glass I'd need, picked a nice complement of greens with a few black accents, and loaded up the kiln.

Liquid Runs

You know how water pools on the low portion of a non-level surface? Well, so does glass, and due to floors, kiln stands, and kiln posts, your average kiln shelf isn't level. Instead of an 8-inch circle, I have a sort of stunted semicircle with a definite slant to it.

Wire Melt

It's very pretty though, and I intend to chop it up and make pendants or insets for other works.

After much frowning, turning of shelves and swapping of kiln posts, and measuring with a wee short level, a calculated application of shims has brought the kiln shelf into a greater state of balance. It is ready for its next trial!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is SO cool!! Oh how I wish I was a fly on the wall of your studio! Oh wait, I could just visit (then I'd have hands to play with glass!!).