Upon moving back to Colorado in 2006 from Florida, and not being able to find a job in my professional field as a Purchasing Manager/Facilities Coordinator, my husband decided I need to have a hobby to occupy my time. He therefore, took me to Jo Ann’s to buy glass beads so that I can start learning how to make beaded jewelry. We left Jo Ann’s and $1000 lighter in the checkbook.
My beading has since evolved into making Dichroic Glass Pendants and necklaces. I have found it to be much more of a challenge in making glass than in making beaded jewelry. I thoroughly enjoy making glass as you never know how it is going to look until you take it out of the kiln. Everything I do has been self taught with Franks help.
What is Dichroic Glass? Dichroic glass is a product of the technology called “thin film physics”. Thin layers of heat resistant oxides, such as titanium, silicon, and magnesium, are deposited upon the surface of the glass in a high temperature, vacuum furnace. The materials are vaporized in a crucible by a high voltage electron beam onto a rotating surface of glass, causing the glass to become a partial mirror, and allowing only a select narrow band of light to transmit. Light rays transmitting through the glass at a right angle are less affected by refraction, and the glass looks different colors when viewed at different angles and in sunlight. NASA invented this in the 1970’s.
I take glass pieces which are cut and arranged by hand, up to seven layers, then slowly heated in a kiln over a period of several hours. At temperatures between 1400 and 1500 degrees F at which the glass softens to a honey-like consistency and the separate pieces of glass liquefy and fuse together into a single piece of glass no thicker than ¼” high. When the glass has reached the state desired by me, the kiln is shut off, and annealing begins. Annealing is the slow cooling of the glass to prevent the presence of internal stress (which can lead to bubbles, cracks or fractures). Once the glass has returned to room temperature it is than taken out of the kiln to be used or possibly shaped into a design of which the artist wants and re-fires to polish the sides.