Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Broken base glass


Firing a piece with a partially covered base layer requires more care than two even layers to avoid the fracture of the glass during the heat up stage of a firing.  Slower rates of advance need to be used.

Glass is a poor conductor of heat and electricity. This can be good in certain circumstances but is usually one of the limitations in kilnforming.  The poor conductivity of glass means the top layer of glass will need to be heated before it begins to transmit heat to the glass below. 

A while back an example was shown that is a special case, but also illustrates the general principle (apologies to the poster, as I didn’t take down the name at the time and can’t find the original post now).





This sheet of clear glass was covered by an arrangement of stringers, with a border of clear exposed.  I don’t know positively, but I presume this was done in the knowledge that the single sheet of clear glass would become smaller, and the border would be cut down to the appropriate size.

Be that as it may, the exposure of the clear allowed the edges of the clear to heat up faster than the covered part of the sheet.  The stress of the temperature differential between the centre and the edges led to the fracture of the glass during the heat up.  This can be confirmed by the rounding of the broken edges.  It is further confirmed, by observing the relative straightness of the stringers, that the break occurred before the stringers became sticky enough to even laminate to the base glass - the clear glass broke underneath, leaving the stringers relatively undisturbed. It is also an indication that the glass broke earlier than the slumping temperature, as the stringers would have been sticky enough to break with the clear otherwise.

One speculation given for the break was that it was affected by the size.  You can see the size is relatively large for the kiln.  This may have had some influence on the fracture as well.  But it is not so much the size as the shielding of the heat from above for a large part of the base sheet. We don’t know if this was a side fired kiln, but if it was, there would be an increased exposure of the edges of the glass to the heat and so increase the likelihood of temperature differentials leading to too much stress for the base glass.


The rate of advance for partially covered sheets needs to be reduced to be slower than for evenly covered base sheets.  Even on evenly covered base sheets, there is a risk of breakage of the bottom sheet, if the rate of advance is too quick.  Slower heating reduces the temperature differentials, as the gradual rise in heat allows the glass to be closer in temperature from top to bottom.