Monday, 16 November 2009

Drop Rings


It is possible to purchase drop rings of various sizes. It is also easy to construct one from vermiculite board or ceramic fibre board. Merely cut a circle of the desired radius from the board. Leave at least 50mm of board outside the circle, and more for thinner boards.

Batt wash the top and inner sides of the drop ring

GlassThe glass should be larger than the hole in the ring. This will vary by radius of the hole. The glass will need to be from 50mm larger diameter than the hole for smaller holes to 100mm larger diameter for holes over 300mm.

Glass should be at least 6mm thick for the first 100mm of drop and an additional 3mm for each 50mm more. So, a drop of 200mm would require glass of 12mm thick

The temperature rise should be no more than 150C per hour to about 675C for 6mm glass and less for thicker glass. Remember the glass is much closer to the elements than normal and it is easy to thermal shock the glass.

With close inspection you can see that the edge of the glass rises from the mould as it sinks in the middle.
The outside edges of the glass rise from the mould as the centre begins to drop in the centre.  As the glass gets hotter, this raised edge settles back on to the mould.  If the glass is really near the elements, there is a small risk the glass will touch the elements.  No harm will be done to the kiln, but the glass edge may have some needles.

The rate and amount of slumping is controlled by temperature, span (the width of unsupported glass on the mould) and time. The higher the temperature the faster a piece will slump. However you can slump at lower temperatures by holding the temperature for a longer time.

Also note that the wider the span, the faster the glass slumps.

If you slump at high temperatures with a drop ring the sides of the bowl tend to be straight and steep. The strain is limited to the region immediately inside the rim. Therefore the glass tends to thin next to the rim and the colours are diluted. If you slump at a lower temperature for a longer period of time the strain is distributed over the entire unsupported area. This results in a more rounded shape for the bowl and even thickness of the glass across the bottom of the bowl.

Finding the right combination of time and temperature requires a bit of experience and guess work. If you want a rounded bottom, heat the glass to the point that it starts to bend on the mould and wait for 30 minutes. If it has slumped about 1 inch in that time wait another 30 minutes. You are looking for a slumping rate that is acceptable. If it hasn't moved very much then increase the temperature 15C and check again in 15 minutes. Keep moving temp up and waiting for 15 minutes until the piece has completely slumped. This might take several hours.

If you want straight sides keep heating the piece rapidly.

StoppingWhen the piece has slumped to the desired shape, flash cool the kiln to about 30C above the annealing point to stop movement in the glass. Extend the annealing soak and increase the length of the annealing cool time (reduce the rate of fall) over normal slump firings of the same thickness.