all the ways

All the many ways Kasia Czarnota works with glass…

Snow Panels, 1, 2 and 3 (framed separately), 10 x 8", each

“Snow Panel 1″, “Snow Panel 2″ and “Snow Panel 3” were created using a process called PATE DE VERRE.  Pate de verre involves making a paste of glass that is applied to the surface of a mold, then fired. The big advantage to pate de verre is that it allows for precise placement of particular glass colors in the mold. Other ways of filling the mold often result in some shifting of glass from where it has been placed prior to firing, but the pate de verre process helps to control this shifting.

To create these pieces, Kasia Czarnota made three molds off of an original wax. To make the image disappear, she melted the wax over a flame to distort the surface in places. After transferring into a mold, she highlighted the changes with the added colours.

Bouquet, 2008, kilncast glass, 14" h x 13" w x 10" d


To begin this process, Czarnota creates an original out of clay or wax.  From there, she makes a mold of it using a combination of plaster and silica. If it is a larger piece, she will include binders such as Fibreglass in the mixture. With really large pieces, she will make a concrete “jacket” over the entire plaster/silica mold to ensure it doesn’t break in the firing; the glass can be heavy enough to splinter the mold in the kilncasting process.

A Home of Our Own, 2009, kiln cast crystal, 13" h x 6" diameter

Once the mold is complete she will remove the clay or wax so that the mold has an empty negative impression of the sculpture inside it. Czarnota then places the mold upside down in the kiln and fills the cavity with liquid glass.  Depending on how she wishes the piece to look, she could instead put the glass in a ceramic or plaster reservoir above the mold so the glass melts and flows down into it, creating a cleaner look.  Czarnota uses this method with clear crystal pieces such as “We Used To…(boots)” or “A Home of Our Own” (at left).

Next the kiln is programmed to fire the glass. Glass is very tricky in that it likes to be very solid (cold and hard) OR very liquid (hot and runny like molasses) but it doesn’t like the state between the two stages.  The computer controlling the kiln is programmed to go through the in-between stages very slowly so the glass does not shock and break.  When cooling the glass after it has been fired at a high temperature the process is called annealing.

All The Ways I Love You, 2010, kilncast glass, various sizes

At its hottest, the glass is melted/fired at about 840 Celsius. The annealing process (where the glass is slowly cooled to room temperature) is different for each piece and is determined by its size or thickness.  For example, the petals in “All the Ways I Love You” anneal for less than a day because they are so small; the “We Used To…(boots)” anneal for about four days, and “Bouquet” (dress) anneals for about 10-12 days.

Once the piece is at room temperature, Czarnota removes it from the kiln and carefully removes the mold to reveal the glass sculpture.  The mold is used only once and is destroyed when removing the glass.  The sculpture is then cleaned up and polished.  The polishing is completed almost entirely by hand.

Falling 1 (petal study) 2010 Kilncast glass (framed), 11”(h) x 14”(w) x 3.75”(d)

The petals in “All the Ways I Love You” and “Falling 1 and 2″ are made a little differently. Czarnota uses a flat template of the petal shape and fills the template’s void with powdered glass.  She creates several on a kiln shelf and then fires it in the kiln quickly; the result is flat petals. Czarnota then uses a separate plaster “open face” mold that is placed over the flat petals and then fires them in the kiln again.  The mold is wavy and the petals slump over the mold giving them a dimensional shape.

We Used To... (boots), 2009, kilncast crystal, 7" h x 3.5" w x 6" d each

We Used To…(boots)” are made from an actual pair of children’s boots.  The mold is complicated: Czarnota takes a mold of one side of the boot, and waits for it to dry; she then makes a mold of the other side of the boot and waits for that to dry. At this point she substitutes the boot for clay so that she can control how thick the cast crystal will be and pour and mold of the interior where the child’s foot would go.  She then takes the three pieces of the mold apart, removes the clay, cleans them up, then puts them together and seals it all with more plaster/silica mold material and fibreglass sheet so they will stay together. The boots are upside down in the kiln and the glass enters the mold through the heel.

Telephone Booth Gallery is taking commissions to create a pair of boots in your unique colour. (Only one of each colour will be cast!)

Sandcast glass shoes, 3 x 3 x 6 inches each approx.

The little pairs of girls and boys shoes in the gallery have are made in a different process called SANDCASTING.  Actual pairs of children’s shoes have been filled with plaster to keep them sturdy.  These are pressed upside down in a bed of sand to make a negative mold.  Hot molten glass (at about 1200 celcius) is then ladled into the sand mold.  The surface is dusted with powdered coloured glass.  These are then transferred into an annealer (kiln) that is programmed to bring the shoes down slowly to room temperature.  If the timing is off as the pieces are being transferred to the annealer, they will not come out properly. If they are transferred too hot (too early) they will slump in the annealer; if they are transferred too cold (too late) they will crack to pieces.

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