Monday, 1 August 2011

Aperture Drops Firings

Initial Heat Rise
As the placement of aperture drops is much higher in the kiln than normal, the initial heat rise needs to be carefully controlled. Usually, the glass will be so high in the kiln that uneven heating is almost certain and the risk of breakage very high. The need is to arrange a schedule that takes account of this uneven heating effect.
The principle requirement is to add heat slowly so the glass receiving less direct heat can heat up by convection through the glass. However glass is a very good insulator, allowing heat to travel only slowly. There are two strategies for this:
  • one is to heat at a very slow but consistent rate. After the annealing point has been reached the speed can be increased.
  • the second is to go a bit faster, but with soaks at three or more intervals in the heat up. After each soak the speed of advance can be increased a little. The soaks should be from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the speed of heat up.
In either case it should take about five to six hours to reach 650C for 9mm thick glass. If the glass is thicker, more time is required to get to this point. I would take 8 -9 hours for 12mm glass; 16 – 18 hours for 15mm glass; 26 – 30 hours for 18mm glass.

Bubble Squeeze
If the glass has not already been fused, you may need a bubble squeeze at around 650C. Keep in mind that the temperature rise has been slow and so a lot of heat has been put into the glass. A quick peek can tell you whether the glass has already sealed at the edges. If the glass was per-fused, you can continue directly to the forming temperature.

Forming temperature
The exact forming temperature of course is dependent on:
  • aperture size
  • weight of glass
  • speed of advance to forming temperature
  • glass used (to a lesser extent)
However the forming temperature will be between a high temperature slump and a low temperature fire polish or tack fuse. Observation will be required to determine the temperature for your kiln.

Soak at forming temperature
It is best to soak for a long time at the forming temperature. At high temperatures the glass will move quickly, possibly too quickly to arrest the movement when you want. At higher temperatures the glass thins much more at the shoulder – where the glass moves from the horizontal to the vertical – than at lower temperatures.
Lower temperatures take longer to form, but are more controllable. More of the glass has time to slip into the aperture. Lower temperatures allow compensation for the increased speed of the drop during long drops. After the first 50-75mm of drop the glass at the sides is thin enough to allow a quicker drop caused by the weight of glass at the bottom pulling on the thinner sides.