My sculpture has been heavily influenced by my background in architecture as well as my interest in astronomy, science and anthropology. The interaction of glass with light and the juxtaposition of fractured, jagged edges with pristine optically polished surfaces have been integral components of the sculpture since the late 1970’s. The fabrication process is extremely .....
My sculpture has been heavily influenced by my background in architecture as well as my interest in astronomy, science and anthropology. The interaction of glass with light and the juxtaposition of fractured, jagged edges with pristine optically polished surfaces have been integral components of the sculpture since the late 1970’s. The fabrication process is extremely labor intensive, with each piece requiring two to eight months to complete. My team and are generally working on four of five pieces at any given time, each in a different stage of construction.
The process starts with massive blocks of optical glass cast for the optics industry. Utilizing a series of tungsten carbide chisels, and hammers of various sizes, large conchoidal fractures are splintered off of the main block. Although the final result is intended to appear spontaneous, the process is highly controlled. The block is then cut into its trapezoidal form using automatic 24-inch diameter diamond saws. The individual facets are ground by hand on a series of large cast iron wheels, fed with a slurry of silicon carbide and water. Successively finer grits are used on each wheel, starting with 60 mesh through 120 / 220, then to 320. At this point, the block appears grey in color. Work then begins on the complex color panels. As many as 15 different types of glass are used in each piece. Most of the vibrant colors are obtained from Vitrolite and Carrara, opaque sheet glasses used as architectural building facings from 1930 to 1955. Other colors are generated using tinted and dichroic optical glasses and architectural sheet glass. The thick black sections are cut from 1 ¼ inch tabletops cast, for an Art Deco restaurant in the Buffalo, New York train station in 1924. The individual strips of colored glass are cut from larger sheets, and machined by hand using diamond and silicon carbide abrasives. Machinists’ squares and micrometers are used to measure the exacting specifications at each step in the fabrication processes. The colored components are then laminated in a temperature-controlled room, using a high-tech Hxtal resin adhesive. A vacuum pump is used to remove the soluble gasses from the resin, producing an optically transparent bond that exceeds the shear strength of the glass itself. Hxtal resin has become the standard of the museum restoration industry worldwide. The fabrication process involves cutting, laminating, re-cutting and laminating until the entire color panel is complete. The panel is then machined flat and laminated onto the main block or sphere. This process is repeated if a sculpture utilizes multiple panels. The spheres are cut and polished on special machines that were designed for the lapidary industry. We heavily modified them to work with glass and designed our own diamond cutter heads.
Following panel lamination, the circular convex lenses are hand cut into the piece using diamond wheel cutting techniques. The position of the lenses is determined by the projection of colored light into the planes and fractures of the sculpture. After final lamination and lens cutting, each surface is machined and optically polished on a series of lapping machines with flat reciprocating heads. A series of silicon carbide slurries take the surface to a 600 mesh satin finish. Polishing is done on a textured nylon pad with a slurry of cerium oxide and water. When the surface polishing process is complete, all edges are seamed and polished by hand. The sculpture is complete only when an overhead light source is projected through the color panels into the block, producing color washes over the fractures at the base of the piece. The lenses reflect the underside of the color panel, adding reflected as well as transmitted light into the center of the sculpture; while the oblique facets of the block refract and disperse the patterns and colors throughout the piece, creating a constant visual motion.
Habatat Glass invites you to celebrate the
48th year of our International Glass Exhibition.
We are extremely proud to have founded the oldest and largest annual glass exhibition in the world.
Grand Opening: May 8th | Exhibition continues to July 3rd of 2020