Friday, August 15, 2008

This is How It Starts....

Having recently discovered working with hot glass (in a small way), I take particular pleasure in knowing that Hudson, where I have lived for over thirty years was the site of a glass industry located on the shore of the Lake of Two Mountains. At it's height over a century ago, it was still possible (at least in the early years when I first moved here) to find colored glass while walking along the beach or just below the wharf.

I'm happy to have a place to work on my torch in my home even if it is in the basement. This is at it's messiest but it's a happy, colorful mess.





The glass starts out in rod form (as you see on my table next to the torch. Heated in the torch, it melts and I guide it on to a steel mandrel coated with a bead release formula that will let me slide the bead off later when completely cooled. After the base bead, several other colors can be added (a little like painting with molten glass) and texture can be left or completely melted in and then shaped into perfect little spheres, barrel shapes, squished between graphite paddles or even molded into presses. Lately I've been experimenting with sculpting the glass using small scale steel tools (steel because they can stand up to the heat taking care not to let them get so hot that they stick to the molten glass). Sculpting beads would be for the goddess type beads as an example which require shaping with the aforementioned tools as opposed to a symmetrical bead. Upon completion and while still so hot they've just lost the red glow, they are put into a fibre blanket to cool slowly to avoid thermal shock.
Then I gather together finished beads from the fibre blanket and slide them onto some mandrels to be put into the kiln to be annealed (takes the stress out of the glass that's accumulated during the time it's in the fire) although personally I find that part stressing myself......Finally they must have the bead release residue cleaned out of the holes before I can use them in jewellery.



.....and then the satisfying part....designing the finished product....


2 comments:

kate said...

I never knew there was a glass industry in Hudson. How interesting! Fascinating to see your work space and hear about the techniques. And there are those florals I was waiting to see!

Robyn said...

Oh wow, I can't believe how beautiful these beads are. Love the knobbly ones!