12 December 2015

the glass fur project: untangling very carefully

glass fur

The little test dome I showed you last time has been fired. It was fun to revisit the techniques I had acquired for my research into historical pâte de verre (the wax dome itself was one of the models after Despret's that were left over!), but giving it a more personal and decidedly prickly twist.

glass fur
With the wax steamed out, only the glass pins remained embedded in the mould.

The glass pins that I had heated one by one in the flame of a candle and pushed into the wax, had all been embedded in the plaster/silica mould. The wax was steamed out and I added pâte de verre to the surface, and fired it in the kiln. Since it was such a small form, I did this in my own tiny Paragon SC3 kiln instead of the industrial ones at Sint Lucas. I hadn't used the oven in quite a while so I was happy to find out that everything still worked!

glass fur
The mould after firing (on the marble cement floor in the oldest part of the house).

Now, I knew the real fun would only start with removing the mould material from the fired glass... I couldn't just hack away the bits of plaster/silica and glass fibre, because the 1mm glass pins could so easily break. It needed a gentle approach...

glass fur
Slowly but surely...

Thanks to an old toothbrush and a couple of wooden toothpicks I eventually managed to not break every pin I had put on earlier. Heh. But it was tricky! The secret was mostly to soak it in warm, salty (soda) water for a couple of hours, and then the very gentle prodding began... it was a calm and precise work, taking care not to use too much pressure.

glass fur
Here you go: a glassy punk!

This is the result so far: a translucent dome partly covered with glass pins. It's a start; it already tells us a couple of things. I like the translucency so that it almost fades into the background...The surface looked almost blurred, only when you examine it from close by you see the "hairs".

But it needs more tweaking and experimenting. One thing I don't like is the diameter of the hairs, which look more like pins than fine hairs. This has to do with the proportions and if the model had been bigger it wouldn't have been such an issue. The plan is to scale it up.

Another thing is this quality that fur has; since it is embedded in elastic skin it moves and ripples with movement or draping. This I'd love to transfer to the glass fur too... So I'm experimenting with more elastic materials for the skin: transparent silicone and textiles.

To be continued!


  1. Great project! It's interesting to see all the stages of making the glass fur.