Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Holes vs. Elevation of Moulds

Drilling holes and raising the mould are not the same. They achieve different things.

Drilling holes allows air out from between the mould and the glass.

There are some things you need to check about the vent holes in moulds.

Are the holes in the mould at last touchdown point(s)?

Sometimes the vent holes in moulds are made at convenient points rather than at the places where the glass will last touch the surface of the mould.  On a simple ball mould, a hole at the centre will be appropriate, as this is the last place the glass will touch. 

 On a bowl with a square base, the last places the glass will touch are the corners, so that is where the holes need to be.

The vent holes in this could also be at the other two angles in addition to those at the top and bottom of the picture.

Are there holes in the side of mould to allow air out from under the mould?

If there is one or more, there is no need to elevate the mould.  The air will move out from under the mould through the hole in the side. In general, moulds are not so uniform on their base that they fit the shelf enough to seal the displaced and expanding air underneath the mould. But you can be safe by elevating the mould on pieces of 1mm or 3mm fibre paper.

This mould has side vents, although the holes at the base may be a little large.

Are the holes clear?

This is more important.  If the vent holes are not open due to kiln wash or other things blocking the space, there will be no escape for the air.  The vents need to be checked on each firing to ensure they are open.

Does the mould need holes at all?

There are shallow slumpers and other simple moulds - such as a wave mould or any cylindrical mould form - that do not need vent holes, either because they are so shallow, or because the air can escape along the length of the mould.

More information can be found in this and related blog posts.

Large thick bubbles at the bottom of the glass

Not all large bubbles at the bottom are the result of the lack of holes.  Sometimes they are the results of too fast or too high a firing. Some notes on this are given in this blog entry. 

What does elevating the mould do?

The purpose of elevation is not allow air to escape from under the glass, although that may be a by-product.  Elevating the mould allows marginally more even cooling of the mould and glass if it is on a thick kiln shelf. It will not create any problems, but you need to be careful about how near the elements it will place the glass.  The elevation does not need to be more than 25mm, just as for the shelf above the floor of the kiln.