This week I have two great big thank yous: One to Bob Heath, who kindly loaned me the use of his kiln when mine croaked, and one to the guy that invented fiberglass.


BoyBubbles, the working title of the piece above, was in the kiln when it died (along with an Emergent series vase still in the dead kiln because it’s too tall to be refired in Bob’s). From the looks of it, the temp had gone up just about high enough to destabilize the mold (past the quartz inversion temperature) but not high enough to actually fuse the glass.

That left me with a bunch of loose glass sitting in an extremely fragile hunk of plaster. Couple good jostles, and goodbye mold. Bob’s kiln lived about five miles down a bumpy road but, figuring I had nothing to lose, I made a nest of padding in a sturdy cardboard box, carefully lifted the mold into the box, loaded it in the car and set off.

The inner mold looked wobbly by the time I got to Bob’s–part of the inner wall actually fell over into the glass. I reasoned, though, that since the wobbly part was ABOVE the level of the glass, and the bottom of the mold was reinforced, even if the sides fell down it’d still work.

And it did.

I do my pate de verre molds in three layers: An inner face coat next to the model to take detail, fiberglass strips dipped in wet plaster/silica and adhered to the more dangerous parts of the structure and then, finally, a thicker coat of plaster/silica mixed with “gunchop” or “shorts,” thin fiberglass strips about an inch long.

I suppose it’s overkill, but it lets me make thinner molds (good for keeping the heat more even, especially with open-faced castings). And in the event of a disaster like this one, it holds things together.

It’s still a work in progress, lots of coldwork left to do. Just for reference, it’s about 12×15 inches or so, maybe 4 or 5 inches deep at the highest point. There’s some hairline flashing that’ll need a bit more coldwork than usual to remove. But all in all, I’m really tickled to see it looking hale and hearty.