I’ve wanted to learn new techniques for a while, but I haven’t had the time. While it has been relatively quiet and my children are back at school, I’ve started learning new things and experimenting. It’s been fun and exciting – I feel like my passion for glass is back!
There are many ways to create a vase. I started with a pot melt – which is lots of offcuts of glass, melted in a chamber in the kiln. There is a process to choosing colours for the melt. You could bung any old colours in, but it probably wouldn’t turn out very nice! I have tons of clear offcuts. I’ve been working with glass for 6 years now and have built up quite a hefty collection. Some artists call it scrap – to me, all glass offcuts are usable (and valuable) so I don’t call them scrap.
I wanted to make something bright and happy, so I chose a selection of yellow, orange and white in both opal and transparent glass. I predominantly work with transparent glass as I love the beautiful colours and shadows they create but for this project more opal was needed as I wasn’t sure how all transparent would turn out.
Here was my colour selection. That’s over 1.2kg of glass right there – mostly clear.
A selection of yellow, white, orange and clear glass in a mould ready to be melted in the kiln
Residue of glass in the mould from being melted in the kiln
It went in the kiln to melt at 900 degrees Celsius, all the glass goes through a hole and collects in the mould, forming a thick circle of glass.
An 18 second video (no sound) showing the before and after pot melt
The melt took 22 hours to complete. I absolutely love it. The colours go so beautifully together, with a range of transparent and opaque glass in yellows and light orange with white and clear. It looked so much better in real life, beautiful depth to the colours and patterns.
Pot melt finished – a round circle of thick glass in yellow, orange, white and clear.
Pot melt finished – a beautiful pattern in the centre of the glass
Pot melt finished – patterns formed naturally through melting of the glass and dripping onto the flat surface
Pot melt finished – against a window showing the colours
I had plans for the results, but I had to change because the disc was so thick and the process to make it into a vessel would be wasting a lot of the lovely glass. A lot of people wanted it to be a cake stand/plate but honestly, this process doesn’t suit that type of thing – for a start the cost would be huge and it’s very thick and heavy.
So I decided on a drape – which involves putting the glass onto a large metal mould and watching it carefully at process temperature. This entails mega safety rules, wearing natural fibres, long welder gloves and safety rated eye protection too. Though really, a kiln is just like a big oven, but the temperatures are a bit hotter! It was really exciting to be doing something totally new! It was also a little scary but I had my partner helping me, as it was my first time opening the kiln while it was hot.
I needed to open the kiln and peek at what was happening while the temperature was around 565° Celsius. It was a long wait! But the glass finally started moving and shaping at 640° Celsius. The colours are different due to the heat, they go back to yellow when cooled.
Disc of glass with a metal mould
4 hours into the process – 565 degrees celsius and no movement yet
5.5 hours in now at 640 degrees celsius with some slight movement!
A quick last peek at the vase – it’s changed colour to red due to the heart
I had plotted the schedule into a spreadsheet so I could see roughly when I’d need to peek, but the process took much longer and it went much hotter than I prepared for so by the time it started shaping, my children were home and I had to cook dinner and stop fights….so it didn’t elongate into a tall enough form for my liking. Had I held it slightly longer at the top temperature, it would’ve stretched a bit more. But still. It turned out lovely and for my first go, I was really impressed!
It’s definitely not perfect and I’d change some things next time but I’m really pleased with this for my first try. I’ve learned a lot through making this, I took lots of notes so I can change things next time. It’s such a time intensive process but totally worth it.
I’ve wanted to make something like this, and other things, for years but always held back through fear of failure and lack of confidence. This year I decided to stop being so cautious as life is too short (covid and turning 40 probably had some bearing on that).
So that’s two new techniques I’ve learned in a few weeks with many more to come!
I’m keeping this one, it’ll go nicely in my kitchen
A 40 second video (no sound) showing the process from beginning to end. Wish it was this quick in real life! All in, this took over 4 days and that’s without the research, prep etc. I’m used to things only taking up to 20 hours! Its definitely a time intensive labour of love.
So that’s the whole process. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and viewing!
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