Experiments in the Hot Shop with Bryan Kekst Brown

By Greg Owen, Manager of Audience Engagement and Hot Shop Heroes

Last week metals and jewelry artist Bryan Kekst Brown came to Museum of Glass with some very interesting projects. We began the week creating tanks for electro-forming metal. This was the first time that electrodes have been attached to glass at Museum of Glass, as far as I know. It provided a special challenge for the Team’s gaffer, Gabe Feenan, as the electrodes are encased in borosilicate glass, while ours is soda-lime glass. At first they didn’t want to stick together nicely, but Gabe persevered and made it work.

Things started heating up when Bryan decided to pour liquid metal into a cup of liquid glass. He began by melting strips of copper in a small crucible with an oxy-propane torch.

At the same time, Gabe made a cup of clear glass, and the Team’s starter, Sarah Gilbert, used the gathering ball to pull some liquid glass from the furnace. In quick succession, Gabe broke the cup off and placed it on the table, Sarah dumped her gathers in, and then Bryan poured the liquid metal inside. It was very exciting!

Next, Bryan began melting ingots of silver in the same manner, and the Team repeated the process. It was very interesting to see how the metals behaved in a bath of liquid glass.

We found this so interesting because copper and silver are common colorants for metal. Copper is known to make ruby, green, and blue glasses. Once the piece cooled down, we were happy to see that there was a lovely cloud of copper blue, where the metal had slid by the glass, and a big pile of copper at the bottom of the cup.

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Silver is known to make yellow glass and shades of blue as well. The first attempt resulted in shattered glass around the silver, but the second attempt was successful, and left a wonderful bit of opaque blue as a record of what happened.

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I look forward to seeing Bryan’s experiments in the future. If you would like to see more of his work, check out his website http://www.bryankekstbrown.com/. He will be posting images from his residency over the next few weeks.

Greg Owen is the Manager of Audience Engagement and Hot Shop Heroes at Museum of Glass. Greg can be seen working the mic as the Hot Shop studio emcee, assisting Visiting Artists, and teaching soldiers how to blow glass during Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire classes. 

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