Sunday, December 28, 2008


I'm so excited. Today I was able to complete my first attempt at Vitrigraph, which is the process where you can create your own stringers of glass. I learned about this in the Patty Gray class that I took this November. Today was the first time I was actually able to try it out for myself. While it may appear to be a huge pain, it's quite fun for someone like myself who loves to work with glass. I have several photos (some thanks to my husband) that will walk through the process. But why not start with the end result first....

This first picture is just a few of the small Curly Qs I created during the process. I'll incorporate them into my new fused glass works as they do create wonderful imagery in the glass. I started with black as it's one of the easiest to work with for this process and they will add nice contrasts to other pieces. My next will be greens, later this week, and I plan to use them for plant stems.

So here's the set up. This is my smaller kiln, the Paragon Caldera. The top and bottom separate from the main unit and it's ideal for small projects like Vitrigraph. It's setting on top of some fiber board on top of a small scaffold out in the garage. And it has been VERY cold out there, so I have a little ceramic heater (to the right of the kiln) to help warm up the area around the kiln until it is ready to fire. The kiln is setting on a 1" thick piece of fiber board (to act as the bottom of the kiln). The fiber board has a 1" circle in the center where a clay pot, filled with glass, sits over it. Once the glass reaches temperature, it will flow through the holes and onto the fiber paper sitting on the floor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night I loaded a 4" clay pot, yep a clay pot, with a combination of black and clear glass...predominantly black glass. I added the clear to give the black some depth...can't really tell you if it helped or not, but I do like the results. So here is a picture of this pot full of glass, sitting in the kiln ready for firing.

Now I put the lid on the kiln and fire it up. It took a little over 4 hours for it to reach temperature, a blazing 1690 degrees! Once the glass starts to flow, then I'm ready to start shaping it free form.

This next picture shows the glass has just started to exit the kiln base. I have a large black arrow pointing to the first stringer with a large black blob of glass at the bottom of it. You can see I'm dressed for warmth, plus I'm wearing leather gloves for protection from the hot glass and I have a set of stainless steel tongs to manipulate the glass. I'm wearing my glasses and I also have safety glasses. In class we were ok with wearing our regular glasses; just so our eyes are protected.

Now I'm grabbing hold of the glass string and pulling, twisting, and contorting it as much as I can. I actually have a pretty good run of curly qs in this shot.

Here's a close up of how I'm working with the glass string.

On the floor, directly underneath the kiln I have a fiber blanket in place to 'catch' the glass droppings. They're still pretty warm when they hit that blanket, but they do cool quickly.

I can't wait to start on the green ones. I'll probably do that Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Hope you had fun seeing the pictures of the process. I'm looking forward to incorporating these into my new work for the shows coming up this spring.


Karen said...

Cool!!! I've never seen anything like glad to get a glimpse into the actual workings!!

Kathleen, a Glass Artist said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.