Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Float Glass

A question about sharp raised points on the corners of a square bubble plate made of window glass is the occasion to discuss some characteristics of float glass. 

It is necessary with float to find out which is the tin side and which is the air side. The tin layer of the glass produces a bloom that resembles devitrification when compressed. Put the tin side down for a slump.  If you slump with the tin side up, you will create a tin bloom by compressing the tin. If the tin is on the bottom, you will be stretching the tin and so avoid the tin bloom.

harp, pointed and raised corners are the result of devitrification.  Devitrification is the crystallisation of glass. Mild devitrification appears to be dirty streaks across the surface. Extreme devitrification produces a crumbling glass surface. Raised, sharp corners are the result of intermediate devitrification. The tin side does not protect against devitrification.  It does provide a separating action when against the shelf, although kiln wash is still needed.  Float glass devitrifies easily. I have only ever been able to get two firings without devitrification.

Cleaning is of great importance in avoiding devitrification. Clean well with only a little detergent, rinse and then polish dry with paper towels. Any residues left on the surface will promote devitrification.

A general way of reducing sharp corners is to nip or round the corners with diamond pads. I nip the corners - it is quicker and does not leave any microscopic pits for devitrification formation.

Paint, stains and enamels will interact with the tin to produce variants of the colours.  Stains most often become darker than when put on the air side. Powder, frit and mica will not usually react to the tin.

Remember, float glass is not manufactured to be a kiln forming glass.  You will always be at risk of devitrification.