Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Glass is fantastic!

            I love to incorporate glass into my jewellery. Glass allows me to experiment with splashes of colour, and texture in ways that are not possible with other media. Flame work (lampworking) and enamel are two of my favourite jewellery-making techniques.

Here are a few examples of my experiments with glass.

This pendant is made from borosilicate glass (the sturdy glass used in scientific lab-ware). I created the interesting shape using an oxygen-propane torch. Working with glass in this way feels a lot like pulling sugar taffy. The glass needs to stay hot enough to be manipulated, but not hot enough to melt completely and loose its form. Finding the balance between heating and cooling a piece can be quite challenging.

This bead was made using Italian soft glass (104 Coefficient of Expansion). This glass is used most commonly in bead-making. The iridescent sheen of the bead was created by using glass fused with a dichroic coating. Once again, the balance between heating and cooling the glass bead is quite important. If the temperature of the glass bead changes too abruptly, the glass will shatter and pop. To prevent this from happening, a kiln is used to slowly bring the bead down to room temperature. This process, called annealing, gives the glass a lot more strength and durability.

This last pendant was created using powdered glass enamel over fine silver. The glass powder is fused to the metal using a kiln that reaches temperatures between 1400-1500 °F. The delicate shading of this piece was the result of over fifty kiln firings and weeks of work. While creating enamel jewellery is time consuming, and often frustrating, I find it to be very rewarding.

Christine Woollacott

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