Deep in glass process thoughts, I have sequestered myself away to listen, see and feel the colors. In front of me, a large array of blown glass twisted cane. Letting the pieces fall together the way they want, finding the right bend, cutting in just the right place… all the while, recalling the glass blowing sessions for each vase, twist, pulled cane and pattern bar.
Happy memories of my glass blowing shop flood over me. Thoughts drift to loved ones, past and present….the glass colors harmoniously blend the edges of these thoughts until finally, retrospect and introspect collide. Such a peaceful endeavor is difficult to describe.
I decided to communicate these happy thoughts through photos. I am not a professional photographer, but I feel my photos show you glass, as I see it. I hope by looking deep within the glass, you can gain a sense of what it’s all about. Perhaps glass holds positive energy for all who touch it.
For me, glass is cathartic and my evolution with it? Life-long….
After over 20 years in the glass industry, I decided it’s time to explore the process of melting glass bottles.
One would think this is a simple process, but after diving in, I realize recycling bottles is as difficult, if not more difficult than traditional glass fusion.
Perhaps the most important info I can share with you is this; glass bottles are all made of “mystery glass”. Every bottle has a different manufacturer and every manufacturer uses a different type of glass to produce the bottles. To add to the mystery, results vary based on bottle glass color, thickness and shape.
Some bottles are perfectly shiny, while others come out soft-looking, not shiny at all. The really odd bottles have a little bit of both going on. Everyone is familiar with how a window looks when you exhale breath on it. This is the look I am referring to.
The Process of Transforming Bottles into Art
- Empty the bottle and rinse to prevent sediment
- Fill the bottle and immerse in hot water to loosen the labels
- Use a razor blade to get the labels off completely
- Scrub with steel wool because no label glue can remain
- Let dry completely
- Use alcohol to rinse bottle and completely wipe down the outside too. No water spots or fingerprints can remain or they will be fused in permanently.
- Let dry completely
- Now it can go into the kiln (this took 2 days to get to this point).
- One more day in the kiln to heat, melt and cool properly.
After the bottles have slumped flat with a handled neck, I can begin the finishing work with labels, etc.
2013 Update – Food Safe Labels: I seal the labels with a new clear coat, which is guaranteed food safe, non-toxic and waterproof. Cheers!
Click here for my Glass Care and Use guide.
Keepin’ it Green,
Dawn: the beginning of a shiny new day…..
My tests are complete. Over 10 years of research, studies and kiln tests, at long last I have the miracle breakthrough I was looking for.
Over a decade ago, I brought my years of glass experience to work for a company that hand-painted (Verre Eglomise) the back of glass and sealed it with powder coat. Their powder coat application was not tested according to well-established fused glass testing methods. My job was to develop new techniques and designs for them to sell around the globe.
In my off time, I developed my ideas further but was still bothered by the mystery… HOW do I combine the Verre Eglomise techniques and achieve similar effects in fused glass? I had a driving need to apply my hand-painting techniques to traditional fused glass.
Traditional fused glass involves GLASS, front and back, and the design elements are completely encased within the melted glass and impervious to water. Fused glass is more time-consuming and costly to produce, but with proper care you have a piece that will last generations.
The challenge was to find similar materials that could withstand the additional 1000 degrees necessary for fused glass. Everything I tried burned out or disintegrated. Fast forward through many years of failed tests and do-overs, I finally found the right combination to join my hand-painting techniques with traditional fused glass.
Now I can share them with you, fully confident that this glass is of sound construction and excellent quality.
After Words: Being self-taught, I recently learned this hand-painting technique has a name! “Verre Eglomise” means to reverse paint, or engrave on glass and occasionally gild with metal leaf. This entertains me because in my late teens and early 20’s, I reverse engraved glass and then painted the engraving. I did that for a living for 6 years. If I count that experience, I’ve been working with glass much longer than my stated 1991 beginnings.
Every piece in this Limited Edition Series has been sold, but be sure to visit my Home Decor category to see what’s new this season.
Here are some photos of my former work sealed with powder coat. I will never employ the powder coat method again, but you may see how some of my older designs influence my future works in glass.