Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Crushed Glass Tiles

Crushed Glass Tiles

Well, we just finished our new bathroom and one of the main features we put in is a tiled floor. The greatest part of the floor is the recycled glass accent tiles that I made. Recycled glass tiles aren’t easy to make. The first problem I encountered is that glass must be compatible to fuse two or more pieces together. When the glass pieces are compatible they will fuse together with a strong bond similar to a metal weld. When they are not compatible it can produce cracking in the final product. Sometimes no cracking happens at first, but the piece can be a ticking time bomb waiting to happen; one day the glass will just crack for no apparent reason. Glass bottles are basically never compatible. They don’t have to be because who is ever going to fuse them together? Bottle companies are only concerned with making consistent bottles. Even bottles from the same company but different batches may not be compatible. Art glass is formulated specifically so that it is compatible with other glass within a system. For example, Bullseye glass company makes a lot of glass that all plays nicely together so you can use it all together and never worry about compatibility.

The way to get around incompatible glass is to crush the glass into powder before mixing it. What this does is decrease the size of the particles. Mixing the different types of glass congruently produces even stress throughout the piece basically eliminating any stress fractures.

So, here is the process:

1. Clean the bottles. No glue, plastic, labels, or metal tops.

2. Smash the bottles onto small pieces.

3. Run the glass through a GARBAGE DISPOSAL.

4. Make sure you have all of the proper safety equipment and don’t breathe this stuff in.

5. Mix different colors of glass to produce the tile color you want.

6. Fill your molds with the mixed powder.

7. Fire the molds in the kiln.

See the following pictures of the process.  This was my very first attempt at tile making.  I have refined the proccess much more than this.  For example: I now pack the kiln as full as I can get it to save energy.

Yellow Green glass powder in a mold

Blue glass powder in a mold

Crushed blue glass in a rectangular mold... all from the same type of bottle

Light blue glass in square mold

All four molds on the kiln shelf

I had extra room, so I decised I would try and flatten a piece of broken bottle.

Fired glass tiles.  Notice the dark blue tile in the middle.  It was contaminated with paper from the label and turned blackish

A mixture of finished tiles with varying colors.  This time the dark one is actually brown... it's hard to tell in the picture.

This is the finished floor with the various colored tiles between regular ceramic tiles.  I love the effect.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The is the maiden voyage of the All of Green Glass blog, a blog set up to feature my recycled glass products as well as the journey both the glass and myself go through to create recycled glass art.

How I got started.
I have always been eco conscious and I love making things with my hands. I have always had a childhood fascination with glass blowing tucked in the back of my mind. When my frugal wife stated that she was interested in making her own jewelry, I decided to get her all the things she needed to get into the hobby for Christmas. Knowing very well that without the correct equipment and materials the hobby would be a waste, I started looking online at the myriad or beading supplies offered. This is when I came across Lamp Worked Beads. After several YouTube videos, I learned of the process of making Lamp Worked Beads. Colored rods of glass are heated by a torch and wrapped around a metal rod to form beads. Different colors can be used and there are a slew of techniques available to make a variety of unique designs and an unlimited number of one-of-a-kind beads. I was immediately hooked. My first attempt of making glass beads was by using broken glass bottles and using Grandpa’s acetylene torch. Needless to say it wasn’t that easy and the outcome was less than desirable. However, amazingly, I did make some passable glass beads. After watching several more videos online along with hours of online reading, I learned how real glass artists do it. So, along with buying several hundred dollars of beading supplies for my wife I bought myself bona fide lamp working supplies. Although I worked with “real” store bought glass for several years with much enjoyment, it was less than coincidence that those first beads were made of recycled glass. While most glass artists shun the use of “incompatible” glass I have since found several techniques that I can employ to make good use of recycled glass. I hope you take the time to check out my other posts where I discuss some of these techniques as well as the art created by using them.