tech talk. some like it hot…

hot warm cold
You know when you do something all the time how it becomes second nature to you? And you forget that not everyone knows what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Glass is like that. I walk into my studio, fire up the kiln, flip on my oxygen concentrators, light the torch and adjust the propane and oxygen until it’s just right and then grab a mandrel and blow a bubble. Oh, um, right, not everyone does that and most of that sentence is meaningless to most people. Well maybe it’s time to change that, time for me to share not just pretty pictures of beads and colours but details of that actual process.

I LOVE learning about how stuff is made. I find it fascinating to see how wool is spun, mugs are glazed and fired or letterpress cards printed. I love the fact that so many people make things with their hands. We dedicate hours and hours and hours to learn our craft and improve our skills. It is in the spirit of learning that I am writing this new series called Tech Talk Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I will pick one thing from my work and break it down into non-glassworker terms. This is my shiny happy life, welcome.

Let’s start by talking temperature. In the glass world there are 3 types of work, hot, warm or cold work.

cold glass – stained glass is cold glass. When making stained glass you cut the glass cold, then solder around it. You never change the temperature of the glass, you are always working cold.

warm glass – fused glass, slumped glass and cast glass. Warm glass work is when you design and shape your glass cold, then put it in the kiln and heat the glass. Cold + hot = warm. For fused or slumped glass you cut shapes out of glass and assemble them into a pattern. Fusing is the process of melting the glass together, think of glass plates or tiles. Slumping is drooping the glass over a mold, think of bowls.

hot glass – flameworking (lampworking), and glass blowing. In hot glass work you melt the glass and make your object when the glass is molten. Because you are working with a molten substance, hot glass can be shaped and spun and manipulated into 3D objects. When you have shaped your object it goes into a kiln to cool down slowly. The work is made hot, hence hot glass.

There’s one other type of “cold” work. All glass, whether made cold, warm or hot can be “cold worked”. Once the object is made, when it is room temperature it can be polished, ground or sandblasted. This is coldworking.

I am a hot glass worker. I make my beads by flameworking. What’s exactly is flamework? Tune in next Tuesday to find out.


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