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Kiln revives old technique for glass

Post Time:Jun 13,2009Classify:Glass QuotationView:453

CORNING - Corning Community College and the Corning Museum of Glass are turning back the hands of time to turn out better glass and ceramic pieces. Experts from both institutions demonstrated a wood-fired kiln Thursday in conjunction with the international Glass Art Society conference being held this week in Corning.

The kiln was designed by college art professor Fred Herbst in collaboration with Steve Gibbs, museum manager of hot glass events, and Lewis Olson, gaffer and technical team leader at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Most modern kilns are fired by natural gas or propane, but Herbst's design uses techniques that were perfected thousands of years ago. "It's unique because it combines both processes. It fires ceramics and melts glass at the same time. The temperatures used are the same," Herbst said.

"During wood-firing, ash coming off the burning wood will stick to ceramics. That started the development of glazes in China. Also, ash collects in the glass and makes it easier to work with." When glassmakers switched to natural gas or propane-powered kilns in the 1960s, they found the glass more difficult to work with, Herbst said.

The new kiln was fired for the first time in August 2008. The design allows for new research into hybrid techniques involving both glass and ceramics - such as covering ceramics with glass frit during loading, applying molten glass to ceramics during firing, and wrapping ceramics that are removed from the kiln with molten glass strings.

In September, Herbst will travel with Corning Museum of Glass staff to the Domaine de Boisbuchete in Lessac, France, to teach a workshop that includes building a second version of his kiln design.

In addition to allowing for more experimentation, the wood-fired kiln is more environment-friendly, Herbst said.

"On average, it goes through a full cord of wood a day, and that's a lot. But it maintains a temperature of 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a significant amount of heat," he said.

"It's a renewable fuel. Most of the wood we get from local tree services, from trees that are diseased or damaged. So we're not using fossil fuels."

Source: http://www.stargazette.comAuthor: shangyi

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