Monday, August 10, 2009

Cracked Ice

I promised to write about each of my favorite pieces. I've already written about the "Bird" earlier. Here is another one. I call this one "Cracked Ice". Old paintings have a nice texture that is not done on purpose, rather it results from the cracking of the paint over a long period of time. We see the results after sometimes centuries and feel that look is what was intended. We also see this same effect on old houses and furniture where the paint is cracking and peeling. Crafts people go to great lengths to reproduce this effect in their "antique replicas".

In glass, this effect can be created, but the results are not always predictable. This piece is a good example of crackled glass. The base color is a deep cobalt blue, which certainly is reminiscent of cold, snowy climates. Before the piece is fully blown, it is covered in several layers of white powdered glass. This is similar to a nice snowfall building up depth on the ground. Once a sufficient quantity of "snow" is collected on the piece, it is reheated to a very hot temperature and the plunged in a bucket of cold water for several seconds.

That is when the magic happens. If there is the right heat, and the right length of time in the water, and then the piece is blown out just right, you'll get the crackle effect pictured here. The picture doesn't show it, but the cracks are quite deep, and there is a very tactile sensation when you touch the surface. You only get a short period to form the vessel as the white tends to melt into the blue and lose the nice crackled texture on the surface.

The way that the white fades out on the rim is quite interesting. Again, it is all chance in how the final piece will turn out given all the variables of depth of powdered glass, heat, cooling, and shaping that go into making the piece.

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