Exploring new materials is one of the most fun but also frightening things you can do as a maker.
If you have explored the world of woodworking , metal and plastic you might get curious what's out there next.
I certainly did and because instructables.com told me so (by posting a contest about stepping out of the comfort zone) i decided to get my hands on a new material i have never worked with before:
Step 1: Liquid Fragile Hard..all That Is Glass
When it comes to glass the first thing that came to my mind is that it is fragile, but glass does not have to be brittle and easy to fracture, there are kinds of glass that are very robust, like the quarz-glass on watches, and shock resistant types like car-glass.
Glass can be shaped in nearly any form imaginable, when done properly, but working with glass is a challenge.
REMEMBER: All types of glass can be formed with heat, and have to be handled with lots of care.
I'm not a trained "glassworker", just a maker trying to get his feet wet with a new material, so do not solely rely on this instructable and look out for more instructions on the web.
Step 2: What Do You Need..and a Word to Safety.
First, you need something to mess with, speaking a piece of glass, I recommend you to get a cheap wine glass with a long stem to do your first tries.
Second thing you need is a source of heat. Most people use gas-torches or bunsen-burners to heat up glas.
The third and probably most important thing is to have a SAFE workspace. THere are no flammable materials allowed on the workbench and near areas around it. keep in mind that you are working with FIRE and very HOT items. Keep anything that is easy to ignite away from the flame and your workpiece. Lay down left over ceramic tiles on your workbench to protect the surface against heat and sparks.
Fourth is safety equipment to protect yourself. Always wear safety goggles, gloves (non inflammable, non plastic)
and keep around a fire extinguisher in case of emergency.
Step 3: Watch the Video
This is me at my real first try of bending a wine glass, utilizing a blowtorch, which was a great success, and also my first try on repairing a glass figurine, which was a complete failure (poor dolphin).
Step 4: Experimentation and Guidelines
You will have to do some experimentation to find the best technique but I can give you some guidelines to help you making faster progress than me.
1. HAVE PATIENCE
It takes much longer to heat up the glass to its melting point than you would expect.
It really takes a long time, so do not hassle and keep calm, it will bend ...after a while.
2. HEAT UP EVENLY
Turn the glass while heating it up to spread the heat evenly, if the glass heats up more on one side than the other it tends to crack.
3. TAKE SMALL STEPS
A complicated bend or form is not going to be made at once, do little steps, like a bend just by 1-2 degrees of angle, reheat and go for the next degrees of the bend. It is all about a little step, reheat, next step.
4. DO NOT SHOCK THE WORKPIECE
If you cool down a hot piece of glass too fast, it will shatter, also do not put it to hard on any surface.
5. HAVE PATIENCE AGAIN
It takes much longer to heat up the glass to its melting point than you would expect. It really takes a long time, so do not hassle and keep calm, it will bend ...after a while.
6. REACH OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
learning new techniques is always a great experience, so don't worry just try it!
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