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Friday, September 16, 2011

What is Dichroic Glass?

Dichroic glass is an amazing glass that was first invented to be used for the Space Shuttle!  It is glass that has several microscopic layers of metals or oxides fused to the surface through a complex process.  Dichroic glass is an optic glass--it both transmits and reflects light.  any given piece of dichroic will have two colors and some have three.  So when you hold the glass and tilt it you see one color, but turn it the other way and you see another!  Because of the complicated process required to create dichroic glass, it is much more expensive than plain fusing glass, and so makes my pieces more costly to create, especially since I use several layers of the glass in any given piece.

I personally love working with transparent dichroic because I can layer up the glass and get many different levels of reflection.  Most glass fusers seem to prefer dichroic on black glass--perhaps it is easier to work with because it is much easier to detect which side has the dichroic coating.  But it has limited use.

Working with dichroic glass has been an interesting transition for me, as I began my career in art as a painter.  But I always loved making thin glazes or "veils" of color which I would then layer over my paintings.  Now I do the same thing with glass, except on a much tinier "glass canvas".  Heat--firing the kiln several times--as hot as 1600 degrees--adds another factor to the process, the element of surprise!  Though I can pretty much predict what to expect with a firing, glass has a mind of its own!  This is the fun part, though!

1 comment:

  1. I would love to watch you make them some day! Must be fascinating!