Sunday, 17 April 2011

Effect of mould shape on firing schedules

Each time you get a new mould, you should think about the firing schedule that will be needed. The existing schedule you use may need to be changed, so you need to observe the first few firings to be sure you have the correct heating pattern for the mould and the glass.

• Simple curves such as ball mould, square slumper are easiest to slump into, as they have only easy curves to take up. They need only low temperature slumps, and possibly not very long soaks. Although it is best to achieve the slump with approximately a 30 min soak, so that you are using the lowest practical temperature and so minimising mould marks on the glass.

Simple ball mould and slump mould with flat bottom

• Compound curves are those such as an ogee curve that starts in one direction and then moves into another. These require more heat or time than the simple curves. The glass begins to fall into the centre of the mould first, which will be the steepest/deepest part of the mould. The glass will first of all take up a simple curve, and only later conform to the other part of the curve. It is best to start with a low temperature slump and add time (only later increasing temperature) until you find a temperature and time that is practical for the mould.

Moulds with ogee curves and one with an angle at the foot

• The same procedure is needed for moulds with sharp curves or angles. Bowl moulds that have a sharp angle at the foot need much more time than the simple curve. The glass falls to the bottom of the mould first and then has to relax into the sharp angle at the edge of the foot. This takes considerable time. If you add lots of temperature to achieve this relaxation, you run the risk of getting an uprising of the glass near the middle of the bowl. So considerable care is needed to find the right combination of time and temperature for this kind of bowl.

• Draping moulds – those you want the glass to form over rather than into – have other requirements. The mould on which the glass rests forms a heat sink. This means the mould drains heat from the glass in that area while the rest of the glass heats up more quickly. This can lead to breakage. Draping requires more observation to get the forming right than slumping does. Each difference in span of the glass requires a different amount of time to complete the drape even though it is on the same mould. Drape moulds with steep sides require quite different considerations.