“Via con Dios”
Johnny Utah, Point Break
On Wednesday night, crossed my fingers and I closed the door on a kiln at RISD containing three large chunks of beautifully fractured glass. The glass came from the glassblowing furnace rebuild two years ago. The glass was left in the furnace and the gas was shut off. Without annealing, as the glass cooled it self-destructed producing hundreds of pounds of amazing glass chunks. I found these chunks by the loading dock at school where waiting to be trashed. Well, not if I had anything to do with it! I grabbed a couple of boxed, picked through the pile to find the choice-chunks and saved as much as I could fit in my trunk (which was already full). The chunks sat on a shelf in my studio for the past two years. Every time someone came to the studio and saw them what followed was some string of ooh’s, ahh’s and general lusting.
Several months ago, I reckoned it was time to do something with these big honking jewels and I always thought that they would somehow make an amazing component for lighting. Instead of building something around them I decided I would build something that went directly into the chunks, which would mean I would have to core drill into the chunks. Below is a mockup of what I am thinking:
Just in case you missed it, these chunks were not annealed which means that they still could (do) have lots and lots of residual stress within them. They could blow at any minute and the thought of drilling a 1” diameter hole into them doesn’t really appeal to me. Even if by the grace of god they survived the drilling, I doubt they would last long after installing a heat source (an led-bulb) inside them.
After much consideration, expert advice, and deep soul searching, I decided that I would risk it all and attempt to relieve the stress inside the glass. This involves placing my preciouses in a kiln, bringing them up to the softening point of the glass and then slowly cooling them over the course of 12 days.
I am not really much of casting/kiln sort of a guy, and this is something I’ve never attempted. The best part of making is the hand-on intimacy of the process; using hand and eye to guide a process and making millions of little micro-corrections to get the result you want. Fudging and botching. In this case, I have put my faith in the experience of others to plan a course of action and I rely on a digital controller and a kiln in providence to do the work for me. Set it and forget it like a Ronco chicken rotisserie-oven. Again, not my style.
Over the next two weeks the kiln will do it’s thing and when I open the door I’ll have what I have. In the meantime, I’ll be 200 miles away in Brooklyn working on the brass hardware for the lamps. All I can do now is wait…