Inner space in sculpture: the use of metal inclusions in glass
Glass Artist, University of Sunderland
The focus of this research was to investigate methods of combining two materials, metal and glass, specifically concentrating on the application of a variety of metals
in glass, with different glass techniques, for creative use. Metal inclusions in glass constitute an element in the further development of my artistic practice.
However, it was found that the palette of metals used by artists was restricted. This is because the present methods available for artists have demonstrated
many limitations and uncertainty of results. Therefore, this research aims to explore the solutions to combining metal and glass in artistic practice.
The study also covers the history of inclusions in glass, and their aesthetic function in craft and art, as well as the perception of inner space occupied by inclusions.
The nature of this perception is an important element in understanding why artists are intrigued by inclusions.
Current practice in this field is illustrated through an evaluation of the works of a number of artists who employ glass and inclusions (especially metal).
These artists were chosen because they have connections with industry or interests in technology which they apply in their artistic practice.
Following this, the application of metals in glass as a distinctive method of creating shape and internal structure along with issues relating to transparency,
clearness and texture to glass were explored. Studio based experiments to identify creative parameters for combining glass and metal, especially in the hot
state, and process routes that allow the combining of these two materials in the hot state were developed and tested. This testing was further extended by
compatibility studies and developing applications of metal in glass that would avoid problems arising from incompatibility issues. In particular, experiments
were concentrated on nickel, nickel alloys, gallium, lead and tin alloys in hot poured glass formed in moulds.
The results of these investigations were explored in the context of the application of metals with glass in various industries, the scientific developments in these
fields and the possibility of applying these materials and techniques for creative use by an artist in a studio environment.
The original contribution to knowledge is found in the techniques for applying metals, particularly nickel, lead and tin alloys in glass in a hot stage to creative
practice. This especially relates to:
- building high temperature resistant moulds with a very fine textured surface
- development of a method for the pouring of hot glass pouring into a mould
- development of appropriate firing cycles to control the applications of the inclusions
- identification of lubricants and appropriate methods to apply them to prevent reaction and compatibility problems between the applied materials
And from fine art point of view:
- interpretation and gathering together facts about the perception of inner space in sculpture, predominantly in glass sculpture when the inner space is occupied by inclusions.
The subject of this research may be a stimulus to increase cooperation between scientists and artists, as well as promoting understanding of inclusions through
a different approach to this subject.