Glass is such a wonderful material to work with to make art. There is nothing else like it! You can create glass art by blowing, kiln casting, fusing, slumping pate-de-Verre, flame-working, hot sculpting, and cold-working. In working with it you can change its looks, the colors, patterns, textures, and reflective properties. Let me explain, on a high level, what that really means.
There are three main categories of glass art called cold, warm, and hot glass. Every piece of glass art made falls into one of these three categories.
Cold glass techniques include cutting, grinding, polishing, engraving, sandblasting, and etching. Etching can involve applying acid or blasting abrasive material on the surface of the glass to change its texture and appearance. Cold working glass techniques involve no real heat. A cold glass artist might construct sculptural pieces by laminating (with high technology glues) multiple pieces of glass together. Another form of coldworking is changing the glass by cutting, grinding, and polishing it. Most of the time you use cold working machinery made for just this purpose. Some of this work can be done by hand but typically it is more effective to use machines, such as diamond saws, flat lap wheels, vertical belt sanders, engravers, and lathes. Stain glass is made by taking mostly sheet glass cutting it (perhaps also grinding and polishing it) into the appropriate shape for your pattern and then joining it together with soldering techniques. All of these cold glass techniques are done at room temperature.
Warm glass techniques include fusing, slumping, kiln-casting, and pate-de-Verre. Fusing is about taking two or more pieces of glass and heating them until they join together making a single piece. Slumping involves manipulating the shape of the glass so that it takes on the shape of the object on which it sits. Kiln-casting is the process of creating a glass form by heating glass and allowing it to vertically flow into the void of a refractory mold located below the flow. Pate-de-Verre is a kiln-casting method that uses glass granules (frit) and makes them into a paste using a binder and then applying that paste to an inner surface of a mold. Warm glass techniques require a kiln, these come in various sizes and prices depending on the needs of the artist.
Lampworking is a hot glass technique that involves a torch to melt the glass which can then be shaped or formed into different forms. Beads, goblets, pipes, complicated and delicate figures, and ornaments are typically pieces that can be made using this technique.
Hot glass work involves molten glass with a temperature above 2000 degrees contained in a furnace. This hot viscous glass can be blown, sculpted, and cast into various forms creating sculptures, hand blown bowls, vases, goblets and ornaments. Hot glass requires the most costly setup which includes furnaces, pipe warmers, glory holes, garages, annealers and the electronics to control them.
So you can work with glass in its solid-state to make cold worked pieces, fused pieces, stained glass, slumped pieces, pate-de-Verre, and lampworked pieces. In the hot state when it is liquid you can lead it into a dance to form the shapes and forms that you desire, based on your proficiency. Why is this possible? Because glass is a rigid liquid. A different state of matter than any other material.
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