My Love Affair with Boro

It was pretty much a year ago that I was saying I would never touch the stuff, anything is possible in soft glass, I don’t need boro.

I had to rethink that statement a few months later when a project actually did call for boro. I bought some to do the project and a little to play with. My first thoughts when it came to using it were at least positive.

This past year I know I haven’t had the studio time I have been used to and that should be taken into account but all of my soft glass never seem to work exactly as I intend them (more recently I have been better at making frit than beads.) But when I pick up the boro it flows, I feel like the glass is working with me and I have a lot more freedom when I am working. Soft glass now feels like a chore more than an artistic pleasure.

wpid-wp-1424116259727.jpeg Now I will never totally give up on the soft glass, it’s nice to have the option to be able to change but I will be working with boro a lot more. I was in the studio this week just having a play and made a few little pendants just for fun and was really pleased with how they came out, the little wiggle pendant is perhaps my favourite as it was a good exercise in how the boro works differently in the flame. The heart and leaf I made in exactly the same way as I would do them in soft glass and the heart has more depth to it and the leaf has retained much more of the detail. The simplistic and most pleasing part about all these pendants for me though are the loops. I have never managed loops with consistency so I have either opted for a spacer as a loop or using special pliers to cut a hole to use as a hanging in the design.

I also had a go at making a vessel, something I rather enjoyed in soft glass but could never “beat the heat” to add much decoration to it. I never got round to adding decoration to the test piece but I got a good shape and an even wall on the first attempt so it was a success.

First Experience: Borosilicate Glass

boroFully armed with a selection of glass and a host of notes, my first studio session with borosilicate was an interesting one.

Truthfully I was expecting something a world away from what I was used to…..

One thing about my torching style is I like to work hot in some respects with soft glass it’s more of a hindrance than a benefit. But with boro the flame seemed perfect for it.

My first test in boro was small cabachons,  one thing it felt like it seemed to take twice as long than what I was used to from making the same designs in soft glass, actually it did take longer, but after checking the clock it wasn’t as long as I thought.

I did find transferring the glass between rods easier. When I use punties with soft glass I do seem to stick them onto the piece I am working on rather than a temporary connection.

So with a few successful test pieces in the kiln I attempted to play with a few other things.

I tried tubing, attempting to blow a bauble (I have had various unsuccessful attempts with soft glass tubing) While the resulting “wonky bubble” wasn’t what I wanted it to be it was still intact and the wall of the bubble was fairly uniform. I have decided to shelve tubing for a later date, perhaps when I have learnt more on heat control of the solid rods.

Next on the list to try was a marble. This is another thing that while I can produce them in soft glass, thermal shock kicks in before I can finish it. Much easier and surprisingly making a marble was faster in boro than soft glass. This was probably down to finding it much easier to shape the boro in the marble mould. The result wasn’t a pretty marble, but it was, at least, characteristically a marble

Finally a little stretching and manipulating the glass to form shapes. Nothing came of this really it was just an exercise in heat control.

Overall I was left wondering why I had refused to work in the glass for so long. A lot of projects that I have sitting on the shelf would be completed a lot easier if done in this glass.

Differences in the end? So far not as much as I would have thought. Colours are more sensitive, but they produce a much nicer range. It also takes more work to attach two pieces of glass together. Other than that, this totally alien glass isn’t as strange as I perceived. I’m going to look forward to making more with it.