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Working with Color
2008 Eugene Flame-Off


Working With Colored Glass

There are a lot of issues to overcome when building a complex piece of work. In the process of learning to flame work our ideas about glass are changed, and morphed as we progress through the levels. Most of us started in small shops, or garages, at our friend’s house. There aren't set standards for annealing schedules, or much else in our industry.

This is an attempt to share with you the most accurate information I have on the subject. If you wish to share, so that there is more information on the subject please e-mail us. We intend to accumulate clear concise information, with graphs, charts and pictures. If we have a common starting point we can share more accurate information with each other.

It is important to understand that we are most likely creating any problems in the glass; through inconsistencies in our technique, or changes in our routine. Though there are batch issues from time to time. Most flame workers tend to garage color for extended periods of time above 980°. This can cause issues. Heavily saturated colors can be affected by garaging at 1050 for as little as an hour, while some colors seem mostly unaffected by high temp garaging.

When in a molten state the glass becomes a batch of molecules and gases interacting. Elements and Gases and will be released into the air. Once the glass cools and reaches a solidified state its C.O.E. may have changed, and its properties may differ. We work with 33coe, but really our colors vary and may be as high as 50coe or even lower than 33. Each color is its own chemical composition. Levels of reactivity to flame work, garage/ annealing time will differ from color to color. This creates a spectrum of compatibility.

Most bubbles or boiling that happen when flame working color is known as “sublimination.” Almost all color melts from a solid state, to a liquid, then gaseous state, with the exception of cadmium based colors(crayons colors). This is because cadmium only exists in a solid and gas form. When heated to fast the cadmium will turn to gas and form air bubbles in the rod, causing the color to look foamy. When the core temperature is elevated almost to melting point before the outside of the rod is melted the cadmium releases into the air, and the color will melt to a buttery consistency.

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