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Friday, May 6, 2011

Aperature Pours by Clearwater Glass Studio


Ok, everyone, this is a must read for anyone interested 
in aperature pours!  Thank you Clearwater Glass Studio for 
this tutorial. 

An aperture pour (or pot melt, pot drop, or shelf melt) 
is a method to create an organic, swirly, interesting 
mixture of glasses using a kiln. The basic idea is to fill 
a flower pot with a mixture of glasses, and heat it very 
hot so that the molten glass has a low enough viscosity 
to pour through the hole (or aperture) in the bottom 
of the pot.

The glass can be allowed to flow onto a prepared shelf, 
into a mold, or into an enclosure of some kind.

The pot can have a single hole, a rectangular opening, or 
multiple holes.

The appearance of the melt can be varied by the distance 
between the pot and the shelf.

An object can be placed between the pot and the shelf to 
disrupt the flow and change the resulting pattern.

The resulting melt can be used in its entirety as a sculpture 
or bowl, or it can be cut up with a tile saw and the cut 
sections used as design elements in another project.


Making an Aperture Pour
First, enlarge the hole in the bottom of the flowerpot. This 
can be round, rectangular, or whaterver shape you want. If 
it is too small, it will take a long time for the glass to flow 
out of the hole. I rarely  use a round hole smaller than 7/8" 
in diamenter.

I like enlarging the hole by marking the dimensions with a 
pencil or marker, and then, using a chisel and hammer, 
chip away at the edges until it is the size  I want. It is not 
important if the edges are smooth, or the shape is exact.

Alternatively, one can use a drill with a masonry bit to 
enlarge the hole.


Place the glass in the pot. The glass can be placed in many 
different configurations to get different effects.

Note that I've only used a tiny amount of black glass. Black 
has a tendency to overwhelm the other colors.

Note: I only use Bullseye glass. Bullseye glass is formulated 
to be heated to 1500F for fusing. We are going well beyond 
that perameter, and that may have unexpected consequences. 
For example, Bullseye Opaque White has a tendency to shift 
compatibility at these temps. I have had problems with pink 
and cranberry colors also. It is best to avoid those colors. 
Transparant reds and oranges will turn opalescent and muddy 
brown.

You also must also be aware of chemical reactions between 
various colors. These can be very prominant when mixed, 
and may give surprising results (usually in an unwanted 
fashion).

Three pounds of glass will result in a melt approximately 11"  
in diameter.

Fusedglass.org has a calculator that will help you determine 
how much glass to use: Link to Pot Drop Calculator.

Do not apply kilnwash or shelf separator to the pot. Yes, 
glass will stick to the pot, but you can still use the pot again 
if you're using similar colors. If you put kilnwash on the pot, 
you run the risk of  getting particles of kilnwash in the melt.


Here is a simple kiln setup. I am using a Paragon GL22AD 
kiln, 5" of vertical kiln posts. Mullite shelf with 6 thick coats 
 of kiln wash, placed on 1/2" kiln posts. Place pot as centered 
as possible in the kiln. Make sure the glass does not touch 
the thermocouple in the roof, and the hole is clear of the 
supports. I'd recommend applying kilnwash to all kiln 
furniture, and make sure you have applied kilnwash to the 
firebrick bottom of the kiln itself in case there is an accident.

If you have a very tiny kiln, you can use very small 
flowerpots, or even just the small ceramic flower pot trays to 
hold the glass. If the distance between the pot and the shelf 
is very small, the glass might not swirl, but you can get some 
interesting patterns nonetheless.

This is what happens with a rectangular hole. The glass folds 
on itself like taffy. With a round hole it spirals in a circular pattern.

In this photo you can see the glass pouring at 1700F. (I didn't 
spend a lot of time taking this photo!)

Important: If you are going to look into the kiln at 1700F you 
must take certain precautions. Wear protective eyewear, and 
even better a face shield. Wear protective high temp gloves 
as you open the door to the kiln. Be aware that synthetic 
wearing cotton. Synthetics can burst into flame or melt 
causing burns.  It is best to avoid opening the kiln when it is 
at 1700F. The only reason I did here is to take this photo.
My recommended schedule is :
1000 dph to 1000F, hold 15 min.,
250 - 1100 hold 15
1000 dph to 1700, hold 90 min.,
AFAP to 1500F, hold 45 min
AFAP to 900F hold 60 min
200 dph to 750F
300 dph to 300F
Off
­­________________
The hold time can vary depending on how quickly the glass 
flows out of the pot. Once it is not flowing anymore, you 
can move on to the next step. If there is still a strand of 
glass flowing from the pot, you might want to hold longer 
if you are concerned that there might be a  stalactite. 
(See note below)

The slow ramp between 1000F and 1100F is to prevent 
cracking of the clay pot.

The hold at 1500F is only to even out the thickness of the 
melt (to about 1/4"), and allow bubbles to come to the 
 surface, pop and smooth out. If there is a central "belly 
button" where the stalactite met the melt, it will help that 
smooth out also.

Here is another schedule from Fusedglass.org

You can create an aperture pour made in a pot with a 
rectangular hole. (picture unavailable)

Note: These melts will always have kiln wash (a.k.a. shelf 
primer, shelf separator, etc.) adherent to the back. This will 
 need to be sandblasted off, or removed by some other 
method.

Aperture pour made with circular hole in pot.
This is the same pour as shown above. Sometimes the 
bottom side of the pour is more interesting than the top.


For more information on Aperture pours, click on the images 
above. You will be able to download PDF's of articles 
 containing images of my work from Glass Craftsman 
Magazine in 2005 and 2006.

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