Thursday, September 13, 2012

Latest Cast Glass

This wall piece isn't particularly striking or spectacular, but it isn't really meant to be that. Subtle. That's what I was going for. So, the deal behind this one is kind of a convoluted story. When I turned fifty-five, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois informed me I was now in a whole new health risk bracket, and bumped up my health insurance with a 14% increase.

Seeing as I pay for my own health insurance, and really can't afford the two regular jobs I have, and my third job making sculpture is earning me negative numbers, I was in for a bit of a cash crunch for September. So, hat in hand, I got a temporary loan from my Mom to cover the difference. I'm not proud of admitting this, but on the other hand, since the circumstances are of my own choice, I 'm not going to be dishonest about it.

Besides, all my other siblings have borrowed or taken monies from Mom at one point or another. And I'm rather proud of the fact that I've probably taken the least - despite my self-inflicted straightened circumstances.

Look, I could have continued with my boring real job and lived a very comfortable life. I knew that the chances of me making a living at making art - or pursuing any artisanal craft lifestyle - were slim to none. I knew the gamble. I took the chance. So far, I'm losing. I got no problem with that.

In any case, you don't really care about that. The point being I paid back the loan, and am throwing in a nice handmade gift as a thank-you. Here's the piece:
"Cloudscape", approximately 11" x 9" x 2", cast glass and walnut frame

The glass is about 3/4" thick, and the textured 3/16" thick bas-relief surface is against the wall, with a piece of 320 grit wet sanding paper as a backing. At first you think it's slate, but as you get closer, you see the bubbles and realize it is cast glass. So, like I said, subtle, which is where you want to go with Mom's decor. My understanding is it will hang in the office above the computer.

I'm very comfortable casting glass. I've gotten to the point where I feel I have a very good handle on pretty much every technical aspect of casting. I've done a lot of empirical research to get there, and have no problems sharing it. More than half the battle, as it turns out, was the firing schedule for the kiln. That took me a good two months of tweaking one variable at a time. But basically, the answer to a good firing schedule is - go slow on the ramp up. What's your hurry? You probably put a minimum of several hours into the preparation of the piece, so what's the rush firing it?

In any case, like I said, I've gotten very comfortable casting glass and I really should do a lot more of it. Problem is, I'm pretty much out of free casting glass. The remainder of free glass frit that I have, I've promised to students for their projects.

So, I got a bit of a problem here. I got the skills, I got the kilns, I got the time. I got no raw material.

I'll figure something out.


  1. kickstarter, hell if we pony up a little for Neal Stephenson's sword-fighting video game, I'm sure we can pony up a little for John Kurman's casting materials.

    explanatory youtube video couldn't hurt.

    foodsafe molds? how do the fondant guys make their sugary goo?

    1. well, see I was just venting. I'm not ready to panhandle quite yet. Besides, I figure I need something fairly kick-ass to get attention on kickstarter. Hmm. 3D printing investment for cast glass.

      The mold material I used was polyurethane rubber with sorts of wonderfully soluble toxins. I know I said I used silicone rubber. My mistake. Silicone rubber can be used for food. Cooks, sorry, chefs use it to make all that horrible sculptured stuff on the Food Channel.

  2. Add lighting and reproduce logos to sell to businesses.

    1. There's probably a niche for it, and actually walking through the ins and outs might even be worth an essay but... OK here. Why is it that copper wheel engraving of glass by hand is done only by hobbyists nowadays? Because the equipment required, time, manual dexterity, skill level, etc. would price any object made in the hundreds of $/hr range. You can do the same thing with a computer and a water jet cutter or sandblaster.

      Casting, not so bad in terms of cost, but, how much does it cost to screenprint a t-shrit? Throw in a few more pennies/sq ft getting 3M butter cut sandblast photo resits, a printer, and a comptuer, and you can crank out more sidelit logos in an hour than I could do in a month.

      Not saying there ain't a niche for it. Guy back in the 80s was doing neon and cast glass. He quickly switched over to acrylic.

  3. dayyum, that makes ENTIRELY too much sense!!!