Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So much glamour in the glass business!

What an exciting and glamourous day I've had! I did get to sleep in and hang out in my PJs in the morning, which is always an awesome thing! Then it was straight to the studio to finish the Baptismal Bowl/Font for Zion Lutheran Church. 

So here's how it went; 1st Step; I measured the disc about 75 times to make sure it was a solid 18.75" perfectly round. I ground it about 4 times to make sure it was perfectly round. Did I say it had to be perfectly round! OMG! Finally had to pull out the old cut a circle out of paper trick to lay over it. That proved to me it was done correctly. This time I was determined to measure correctly. (The lip of the last giant bowl had to be ground, beveled and polished after the slump, because I didn't double check the measurements before the slump.) So OK...lesson learned!

Here is the very glamourous machine I used to grind the disc a billion times!
2nd step; I changed from 80 grit for the take down on the lap wheel, to 200 grit and did some refining, and a slight bevel on the edges. 3rd step; I hand padded with the 400 grit diamond pad 2 times...I should call that thing "old yeller" 'cause it's always there supporting my me, like an old friend...and it's yellow. BTW, that pad really works your biceps. I'm sore!

4th step; Sandblast the top with 150 grit silicon carbide to create a smooth silky finish. That also had to be done 2 times, 'cause it's easy to miss spots on a large surface. 5th step; A good hose down and wash. OK, I did that twice also. We just couldn't have any black grit showing up on a transparent bowl. That would just be wrong! 
This is the super high-tech level I use to make sure the disc is level on the mold.
The 6th step; spray coat the stainless steel mold with boron nitride spray. Remember to open the door or go outside...and you are supposed to use a respirator. I'm going to claim amnesia on that...I did open the door to vent the room and have air exchange. Kids, don't do this at home! Always practice safe glass! The 7th step; level the mold with a straight level - side to side, and then front to back. Then double check that. Nothing is worse then a wobbly bowl.

Here is the disc sandblasted and on the leveled mold, ready to slump!
The last step for me was to get the disc into the mold without disturbing the mold position and without hurting yourself in the process. I use 2 suction cups for this. Then I use the bubble level between the suction cups to position the disc in the mold so that the disc is level in the mold. Once that's done, all you have to do is clean the disc like crazy again with alcohol to remove any flecks of boron nitride that you might have disturbed, or any dust or errant molecules that might be lurking on the surface. At this point I'm usually ready to be drinking the alcohol!

Anyway, then you set the kiln! ....and Voila...!!! 2 days later you have a gorgeous big freaking heavy bowl that is 3/8" thick. Easy right? Sure, just ask the heating pad I'm leaning on....Also, imagine how glamourous I look while doing all of this. 

All in all, after all the steps, I feel happy and accomplished. Hundreds of little babies heads will be sprinkled with holy water and begin their lives surrounded by joyous parents and loved ones. They will hold hands, kiss, and rejoice...all in front of my bowl. It makes me feel like I'm a part of all of those occasions to come!

Try not to puke from all the sentiment ... I'm a sap!