Friday, 10 December 2010

Firing for a Matte Finish

Glass can be fired to take on a satin appearance that is both appealing to the eye and pleasing to touch.

The first step toward the matte finish is to sandblast the piece after fusing, then fire to a temperature between 600C and 675C. A short soak - or no soak at all - is all that is needed.

The exact temperature needed depends on a number of factors, including:

• The specific glass being used. A soft glass such as black generally needs to be fired to a lower temperature than glasses that do not absorb the heat so easily. Every colour and type of glass will behave a bit differently, so experimentation and record keeping is critical.

• The grit and type of sandblasting medium. Generally, a grit from 120 to 200 is preferred, with aluminium oxide performing a bit better than silicon carbide – which can often lead toward some devitrification.

• The particular kiln being used. Your kiln is a bit different from any other one. Start with a temperature in the middle of the 600-650C range and adjust depending on the results you achieve.

• The finish you want will vary with only a few degrees difference. This means that you have to observe the firing. Make sure you keep good records of the specific firing schedule used so that you can make adjustments if needed for future firings.

Some variations can provide distinctive elements to the finished piece.

• Masking certain elements before sandblasting can provide contrasts of texture within the piece.

• Firing at a lower temperature for longer can give the results you want, without any additional marking on the bottom of the piece.

• To keep the matte texture, any subsequent slumping of the piece should be done at as low a temperature as possible.