This Tiny House Gets a Cast Glass Window

January 23, 2014

Okay folks, this is an awesome way to make a window, demonstrated by mom, Catharine Brown. She and my dad have conspired on many projects as my dad is a door maker and she is a clay and glass sculptor. She has offered her talents up for our a window in the front door of the house. Naturally, I wanted to capture the process in all of its complicated beauty. Basically she makes the window out of clay, pours a mold of plaster over it, then melts glass into the plaster mold to achieve a glass version of the clay you see below. In these first shots, she is sculpting several different beautiful versions out of clay.

The process continues below. Plaster has to be mixed properly – this is a science. The water has to be the right temperature, the ratios of plaster mix to water have to be accurate, etc. Once the plaster has been mixed and an initial layer of goopy stuff that looks like pancake batter has been applied, the molds are filled with plaster. My dad and I were asked to hit the underside of the table for several minutes with hammers to encourage bubbles to rise and escape. A day later, the plaster molds come out as negative versions of the originals! As you can see, my mom is very excited and relieved to be onto the next phase.

Once the molds are cleaned, the science begins. She carefully measures amounts of glass, calculates temperatures, and studies the weather to make sure no power outages were in the realm of possibility (for the kiln).

After she is comfortable with her calculations, she begins to fill the plaster mold with the colored glass powders. This is where the scientist and artist really join forces to achieve a beautiful and accurate result. These go into the kiln for 30+ hours to so they can heat up, melt, and then slowly cool.

My mom loves this step because she knows the final product is near. She also gets the most stressed out during this time. Things can go wrong, like the glass spilling out of the mold, not enough glass in the mold, the mold cracks, etc.

I seem to show less stress because it seems like every time the result is a success! Here she is holding up the first of four pieces. It is a test piece to gauge the mold’s and glass’ behavior in the kiln. She is thrilled to have it out, but wants to make adjustments. Here you can see the glass did not spread all the way to the edge of the circular mold. A sweet piece of glass nonetheless.

Repeat all of this three more times, and the end result is below. We took a vote on these three on Facebook (thank you for your input!). Scroll to the bottom for the winner!

And the winner is…

Scarlet Tanager

Thanks mom for a beautiful showpiece for our model home!

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