Preparing to cut a large piece of glass. Rose selected this beautiful blue glass for her Buddha. The first step is to plan where the best place to cut the glass is in order to minimize waste.
Measuring the glass. I’m measuring the glass before I cut it. Measure twice, cut once!
Scoring the glass. I’m running the scoring tool down the surface of the glass. The score changes the crystalline structure of the glass allowing it to break smoothly along the score line. If the score line isn’t perpendicular to the glass surface or if it isn’t straight, or if there is a flaw in the glass, the break will not break as anticipated.
Snapping the glass. Because there is enough weight on the right side of the glass, I am able to lift the entire sheet, then drop it with the score line along the edge of the table, breaking or snapping the glass exactly as I want it to.
The glass is snapped! The snapped glass has a clean and very sharp edge.
Preparing to cut the glass into a smaller piece. Now I take the piece I snapped off and measure it again in order to cut it down to a shape that will fit on the Buddha mold. I have just finished running another score line.
Breaking the glass with the running pliers. Instead of snapping the glass, I am using my running pliers to break the glass along the score line. The running pliers have the tiniest curve to them so that the score line literally opens up along the length of the glass.
Cleaning the glass with rubbing alcohol. I use the purest form of rubbing alcohol I can find to remove dust, dirt, or fingerprints from the glass. If I didn’t clean the glass before firing, imperfections and even my fingerprints would be immortalized on the surface of the glass after firing.
Buddha mold in the kiln. This is called a ceramic slump mold, because at approximately 1280 degrees Farhrenheit, the glass will begin to soften and slump into whatever shape is placed below it. The ceramic material has been pretreated with a substance that prevents the glass from sticking to the ceramic surface.
Placing the glass on top of the Buddha mold. Holding the glass by the edges, I center the glass over the mold.
Turning the kiln on. The kiln is a small oven that has a computer on the side. The computer gives me control over how fast the kiln heats and cools, and can hold the temperature for as long as needed. This little kiln is rated to a top temperature of 1700 degrees Fahrenheit! Most of my work is done between 1200 and 1500 degrees.
Programming the kiln to slump the glass into the Buddha mold. Because this is a 3-key controller, I have to push the buttons a lot to tell the computer what kind of firing schedule to use.
Getting ready to open a hot kiln! Rose and I want to see what’s going on inside the kiln. The kiln isn’t very hot, maybe 500 degrees, so I can use my welding gloves as protection.
The kiln has reached 587 degrees Fahrenheit which seems like a lot, but isn’t hot enough to make the glass change shape yet.
Heat protection! I’m wearing my welding jacket, face shield, and welding gloves because I’m about to open up a really hot kiln!
Looking inside the hot kiln at a higher temperature, closer to 1200 degrees, the glass is slumping into the Buddha mold. I can’t hold the kiln open very long because of the risk of thermal shock. With thermal shock, the glass could explode, but more likely would just crack.
The glass is taking the form of the Buddha mold. You can see the face of the Buddha appearing in the glass.
Firing is complete, the glass is molded to the Buddha face. However the kiln is still really hot and I can’t remove the glass until it has cooled to room temperature.
Cooled and ready to come out of the mold. When the glass is cool, it is easy to remove from the mold.
The finished glass Buddha!