For the Love of Glass
I create intricate glass orbs that exhibit dramatic optical illusions designed to engage the viewers mind in an abstract and tantalizingly intangible space.
Designs feature elements suspended in glass. These include dichroic glass, gold, silver and Gilson opals.
The practice of principles from art and science through these materials and techniques evokes a primal curiosity and stimulates the psyche.
Out of the Fire
Lampworking techniques have been practiced for hundreds of years. It differs from glassblowing in the way that the glass is heated and shaped, torch-flame versus furnace, respectively.
Though many types of glass can be lampworked, I use borosilicate glass which has some very interesting properties. Like the first iteration of the “unbreakable” Pyrex, borosilicate glass has a low thermal expansion coefficient, making it less susceptible to thermal shock and stress.
“Boro” differs from “soft glass” in that it must be heated to much higher temperatures (~3000 degrees Fahrenheit), allows for the application of greater detail in a smaller area, and has much greater optical clarity.
Into the Flame
By controlling the behavior of the flame through the timing and flow of oxygen and propane through the torch, I manipulate the constantly spinning glass. Graphite or tungsten implements are used to guide and shape the molten glass.
Each orb is built from the center out, layer-by-layer, over a period of hours or days, depending on the amount of glass and complexity of the design. Some work can be done in stages with the help of the kiln and sometimes a friend.
Generally, I work each piece from start to finish, raw material to final product, torch to kiln, in one sitting.
Originally developed by NASA Materials Research, it is highly reflective in dim lighting and flashes two or more colors (from the Greek: di - twice, khros - color) depending on the angle it is viewed from.
Dichroic glass is produced when metal oxides and quartz are vaporized and then condensed into micro-thin crystalline layers on the surface of clear glass.
Available in a number of colors that I continue to experiment with, it comes in sheets that I score and snap into smaller sections. Each color has a specific ideal working condition that contributes to the final form and color of the metallic splinters.
Fuming is a technique in which a small piece of silver or gold is heated in the flame of the torch until it becomes a vapor.
Heated glass held in the flame behind the vapor becomes coated in a molecule-thin film and is then trapped under clear glass, producing lustrous plumes of rich color.
Each time I make a fumed marble, I learn something new. It is such a challenging, engaging, and rewarding technique that some glass artists devote their whole careers to its mastery.
Over 45 years ago, a man from Paris, France named Pierre Gilson Sr. invented methods of producing lab-grown synthetic gems and stones, including rubies, emeralds and opals.
Unlike natural opals, which are notoriously sensitive to changes in temperature and stress causing cracks and breaks, these synthetic opals are one of only a handful of materials that can be encased in glass and worked in such high heat flames.
My orbs often feature crushed, tumbled, or faceted “Gilson Opals” from Profound Glass.