General Glass FAQs?
Glass is an incredibly dynamic and technically challenging medium to work in and there are many types of glass that are available to work with.
Not all types of glass can be used together. They melt and cool at different temperatures and if they are mixed, their different behaviors will cause the fusion of the two to fracture as it anneals (annealing means cooling or solidifying). Glass has a rating called COE (Coefficient of Expansion). The most common COE’s are 90 and 96. The rating is extremely valuable in that it indicates whether the glass will soften, bend, fully melt, and solidify (anneal) in a uniform manner.
If you have a chance, check out two of the major Art Glass (or rated Glass) manufacturer’s web sites: http://www.bullseyeglass.com/ and http://spectrumglass.com/. The range of colors, patterns and textures is staggering.
Types of Glass?
One of the most common types of glass is called “float glass” or “window glass.” This type of glass is created by pouring molten glass on a layer of tin. As nothing sticks to tin, it is used as a releasing agent, so that when glass cools, the glass can easily be removed from the surface it has been rolled on to. This is one of the “stiffer” types of glass that are available. The term “stiffer” is as it sounds; it is harder to cut, not as flexible, and melts at a higher temperature than may other types of glass.
One of the most known techniques of working with glass is “Glass Blowing.” Most people know of, who I call, “The Rock star of Blown Glass,” Dale Chihuly (http://www.chihuly.com/). His work is stunning and has a hallucinatory, organic style.
Kiln Formed Glass
The technique I work in is called “Kiln Formed Glass.” Glass kilns are similar to ceramic kilns, but are not designed to reach the temperatures need in ceramics and their associated glazes. Ceramic kilns are designed to withstand temperatures as high as 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, while Glass Kilns are generally designed for top temperatures of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kiln formed techniques include slumping, which takes glass to a temperature when glass bends, but does not completely melt. When glass is “fully fused” it melts to a point where the glass almost liquefies. When glass is “casted” it is completely liquefied and will pour into a mold of a form.
Glass kilns have a little programmable computer on them. The computer controls what is called a “Firing Schedule”, or a “Ramp Schedule”. This schedule is designed to heat the glass, hold the glass at a temperature and then anneal or cool the glass on a precise schedule so that the glass won’t heat or cool too fast causing the glass to fracture. Depending on what I am doing and how thick the piece of glass is, my schedules generally take 12 to 48 hours. The thicker the piece, the longer it takes to anneal.
Here’s a mind blowing fact: When the mirrors for modern telescopes are fired, the process may take months, due to the high temperatures they are created at and the fact that they anneal at as little as 1 degree an hour. The precise lengthy schedule helps the mirrors endure the extreme range of temperatures in space. The first mirror for the Hubble Telescope was not annealed properly and caused a minute distortion in the glass.
Steven Lenchner's Approach to Glass Design?
I started designing when I was 13 years old when I played flute in my Junior High School/s band and orchestra, and from the moment I walked on stage, I was fascinated by the lights, the lighting control system and everything about being on a stage.
There was a community theater group and the first musical I designed the lighting for was “Anything Goes.” I loved the community of a theatrical production; a large team of people, whose common goal was to realize the director’s vision. Later, I went on to earn a degree in Lighting and Scene Design, which continued to reinforce my love for working collaboratively.
Working in theater taught me a love for a communal and collaborative approach to creativity. It taught me to listen to the goals of a group and to be able to contribute my skills and talents to make the whole better than the sum of its parts.
Theater has shaped my approach to design: If you are open and you listen, a good idea can come from anywhere. In working with my clients, I have learned to engage them by asking questions about what they like, what colors appeal to them and what their goals are in having something created for them. By engaging my clients in this way, they feel more a part of the design and the end result is always to their satisfaction. By asking questions, my clients learn a creative vocabulary that often they never thought they had.
Creating Art Glass?
My mom taught me how to cook when I was 12 years old. I love to cook. Including my 3 kilns, I have 7 ovens in my house. For a long time, cooking was my main creative outlet. When I started making my glass work, I created a series of Frit paintings. “Frit” is glass granules ranging in size from that of small pebbles down to a very fine powder. I think of it as the pigment that I paint with.
In 2002, I showed a series of 30 Frit paintings which were Wild Flower Studies. They looked like Monet oil painting’s. (A number of the pieces are still available today.)
As I was creating my glass artworks, I was working with a mentor, who suggested that I tocreate more functional forms of glass. Tableware seemed like the perfect complement to my love of cooking. The first series of tableware I created was a Bronze Amber Series. Patrons responded so positively to the series, that I began to create other series.
To challenge myself, I began to create molds for my tableware, which included an Asian Dragon and a Gothic Gargoyle, inspired by tattoo art. The highly detailed molds were sculpted by hand using clay. A series of negative and positive intermediary molds were created from silicon, which enabled me to pull a negative casting mold which goes into the kiln.
For my show at Galley 741 in San Pedro, I really wanted to extend the range of my tableware series and create pieces that were extremely challenging. I developed a set of plates and a serving platter for the Asian Dragon. I also developed my Keltic Heart Series and The Koi Series of tableware. The molds for these new series were designed on a computer and the master positive sculptures were created using a 3D printer. The new designs are highly detailed and quite exquisite. Employing these techniques enables me to create highly relived and complex pieces.
Depending on the clients specific needs, I engage them in a conversation that enables them to communicate what they are looking for; keeping us on the same page and illumination unwanted results. One of my clients wanted custom tile created her two bathrooms. She communicated what she wanted by bringing me the sinks for each bathroom and asked that I “riffed’ off of them. One of the sinks she brought me was a beautiful ceramic vessel sink that was glazed with dripped metallic glazes. I created a series of glass “drips” with over 300 hand cut glass drips, which included translucent glass, dichroic glass and iridized glass. She was so happy with the finished results that she teared up when she showed me the finished bathroom.
Another client wanted a 9’ tall room divider created for the entryway of their home. They communicated what they wanted by giving me a series of images from the works of painters, Robert L. Mark, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexander Calder. They asked me to put these ideas into my creative “Cuisinart” and see what I come up with. I created a maquette for them by way of getting their approval. They tell me that when the have quests for dinner that they have to pry them away from the divider to have dinner. The divider employs a combination of frit painting and mold slumping techniques.
I am blessed that I typically exceed my clients expectations.