What is Glass?

The explanation can get a bit complicated but I’ll try and keep it simple and not too technical. In science classes we are taught about the three states of matter being gas, liquid and crystalline. Although glass is a solid material it is a type of matter with a non-crystalline or amorphous structure. Glass is neither a liquid nor a solid but shares qualities of both.

Glass is created by heating dry materials to a viscous state and then cooling quickly. (Viscosity is a liquid’s measure of its resistance to flow.) The quick cooling process prevents a regular crystalline structure from forming like with a solid. Instead the atoms get locked in a disordered state like a liquid. So glass has the rigidity of a crystalline solid with the random atom structure of a liquid.


In nature glass is formed in one of three ways. When silicic lavas from a volcano are cooled quickly obsidian is formed. This is also known as volcanic glass. Fulgurite tubes are crusts of glass that are formed when sand is melted by a lighting strike. Fulgurite tubes are sometimes called “petrified lightning”. The third naturally occurring glass is moldavite. It does not contain a crystalline structure but rather a diagnostic pattern of striae and bubbles. Because of this it is believed that moldavite is formed from the outer surface of meteorites that have fused and melted during entry into our atmosphere.

The man made glass that we are familiar with is made by melting silica (sand) and other materials together. Some ingredients are added to stabilize and strengthen the glass like potash, lime, boric acid or caustic soda. Other additives like ground metal oxides are used to color the glass. Some colors of glass like pinks, reds and purples can be expensive because gold is used in the manufacturing process. There are many colors and types of glass available today.

Where did 2013 Go?

Pink and Blue Glass Vase

Pink and blue vase fused by Julie Coll and rolled by Myles Freedman.

It’s hard for me to believe that 2014 is upon us. I shouldn’t be surprised that last year flew by. I way over committed myself with volunteer projects. At one point my husband pointed out that if I put as much effort into my glass studio business, I would have more work than I know what to do with. He was right…I hate when he is right. I started saying “no” to new commitments for 2014. It felt very liberating – like I was giving myself permission to enjoy one of my passions.

Although my studio time was a bit limited last year, I did manage to make some progress from a business perspective. I launched the Moonrise Designs website, something I had been meaning to do for the last couple of years. I also dug in to learn about social media. As a girl that spent 18 years in technology, after 6 years retired I was feeling out of touch and old. Although far from an expert I am getting the hang of it. I now have a Facebook page, along with Twitter and Pinterest accounts for the Moonrise Designs studio business. By far my favorite is Pinterest. I like pouring a glass of wine and cruising through boards. I have loved connecting with other glass artist throughout the word and being inspired by their work.

After collaborating with glass blowers to roll some of my fused work, I want to learn to blow glass. My first lesson is this Thursday, I can’t wait. I also have formed a small team of both fusers and glass blowers to work on larger commissions. I love collaborating, especially with creative people. Not only do you learn from each other but the journey from beginning to end can be simply amazing.

I have a couple of other goals for this year. I’m going to strive to update my blog at least weekly. I want to share my glass journey with others – to document the sometimes isolating experience of being a studio artist. I would also like to use it as a platform to educate about glass. The world of glass can get a bit complex, even for those of us that exist in it. Glass collectors can get quickly lost whether buying a small piece from an art fair to larger pieces from a gallery.

I am very excited for 2014 and the new adventures it will bring. Several projects are under way and I can’t wait to share their progress. Let the 2014 journey begin!

A Fused Glass Chemical Reaction

Preparing the glass in the kiln.

Heidi’s glass piece before firing.

In order to get different colors of glass minerals are added. During the firing process sometimes these minerals create a chemical reaction. My studio partner Heidi decided to experiment with these reactions during her recent studio visit.

Lately I have been creating “hot fire” slabs of glass. The glass is heated to 1700 degrees and held for a couple of hours. At this temperature the glass is more fluid resulting in interesting movement within the piece. After a few disasters, I have stabilized the firing schedule for my kiln. I discovered (by accident) that you get more movement if the kiln is unlevel because gravity is helping the glass move.

Fused Glass

Heidi’s piece after firing.

As Heidi prepared the kiln for her first hot fire piece she worked with copper bearing colors (blues and greens) and sulfur bearing (creams). To make things interesting she threw in some pink/coral which is lead bearing. As you can see from the pictures the chemical reaction formed the dark charcoal brown color. I love the outcome.



Fused Glass Art Fused Glass Art

Heidi will be back in the studio next week. We’ll see what she eventually does with the fused glass. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be fabulous. It never ceases to amaze me how different our approach is to working with glass utilizing the same techniques.


Glass Bubbles, Craters and Camouflage

Hand cut glass slab.

Custom glass slab tediously cut by hand for the Seahorses.

Well, 2013 is here and the 2012 Boat Parade has come and gone. With all the hustle and bustle of December I haven’t had a chance to post information about the trophies.

All glass projects can have issues that arise…it’s the nature of glass, firing schedules, weather or simple kiln goblins. The boat parade trophies in the last week had some major obstacles to overcome……why is that always the case?

I was feeling pretty good about the progress of the project before I left for my trip to Florida in early December. The background glass was done. The custom glass slab I created for the seahorses was done and looking good. The only thing left to do was cut out the seahorses and glass for the final firing.

So I loaded the kiln, set the schedule and was feeling pretty proud of myself for managing my procrastination, I had six days until the event. Well, I opened the kiln the next morning to huge bubbles. Yikes I haven’t had huge mountainous bubbles like this in years. I was stunned for the first hour and trying not to let the tears fall. I had to get this fixed ASAP….nothing like a deadline to help you hold yourself together.

Huge Glass Bubbles

Yikes….huge glass bubbles…not good!

After a quick consultation with my local “glass doctor” I drilled holes in the bubbles and re-fired with a new schedule. I was feeling good about the project I still had 4.5 days to go. I was glad I had built in some extra “just in case” time.

The next morning I cruised into the studio thinking I’m done and can move on to slumping the trophies in their molds followed by sand blasting the lettering. My heart sank when I open the kiln lid. My bubbles were now hideous craters. Yikes what now? I only had time for one more firing. Slumping was out for sure.

I added more glass to cover the craters, re-fired and hoped that the final trophies would be A-OK. I was a little bummed out about not being able to add the slumping curve that would make the final pieces rest in their holders a bit better…..oh well that’s how it goes with glass sometimes. This firing was success…..thank goodness.

Glass Trophies

Trophies on display and ready for their winners.

Next up the trophies needed to be sand blasted….I was down to 1.5 days until delivery. Of course I encountered some unexpected computer file issues. I was starting to feel a little cursed. The final sand blasting actually goes quite quickly, but the prep can be very time consuming. I finally finished up at 9 PM with hours to spare before the noon delivery the next day. Boy that was cutting it way too close for my comfort.

The event person arranged the trophies and dressed them up nicely. I was finally Done, Done, DONE!!! With Christmas a week away I could now focus on getting my tree up and the house decorated before our holiday guests arrived.

I’m in LOVE with aventurine blue glass!!

The background glass for the 2012 Boat Parade

Well, it’s going to be a short but very busy week in the studio. I leave to go out of town on Thursday. When I get back the King Harbor Boat Parade glass trophies are due so I need to stay on track. I fired the trophy background glass yesterday and it looks beautiful. I’m glad I waited. I almost fired Saturday night but would have been in bad shape if I had done so. Our power went out for three hours which would have been a catastrophe if I had been in the middle of a kiln firing. This is the first time I have worked with aventurine blue glass……I am in love! It has a super cool sparkle to it without being too much. Next up for this project is creating the custom glass for the sea horses. I know more seahorses right? Actually this year’s logo is a seahorse and the client wants a literal translation. No worries on that since I love creating them.