Bible Technology

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One (of 2) classes I chose this year was Production Technology.  Here, we learn about outsourcing as artists to expand our horizons by finding ways to include materials we might not normally work with.  I have a friend in Haliburton who works with metal.

Ron Costescu is now working part-time for Fleming College Haliburton School of The Arts as the Technical Assistant in the Blacksmithing program.  Some years ago, my friend won an award from the school with a metal rendition of a sword piercing an open bible.  It made quite an impression on me and I continued to think about that piece and what it means to me.

I decided I wanted a metal cross that resembled enough of a sword that I could use it to actually appear to pierce my glass bible.

I began with the assumption I would use what I have been calling soft glass.  I made 2 differ models of bible in the same soft glass.  One is spread open while the other is almost (but not quite closed).  I have been repeatedly attempting to make different versions of my piece.  Success appears in unexpected moments.

I began to consider using float glass because the end result of melting is that it looks so creamy and mysterious to me.

So far, I have done 4 firings of bibles.  I have only 1 working model to date.

October 3 (@ 3:pm), I did an Open version of a bible

Although it did survive the firing, it was a bit short of glass so I refired it and lost the entire piece.

Here is the 1st program October 3 (@ 3:pm):


  1. 3: hrs…………..^90 degrees
  2. 12: hrs…………^110 degrees
  3. 24: hrs…………^120 degrees

    This was the original open-faced clear frit bible (very delicate)

  4. 30: hrs ………..^600   “
  5. 32:  hrs………..@600  “
  6. 32:01 hrs………^850   “
  7. 40: hrs………….@850  “
  8. 40:01 hrs………  516     “
  9. 55: hrs ………….  516  “
  10. 80: hrs………….  390  “
  11. 100:  hrs…………50    “

If you look through my program, it becomes clear to me that not enough was understood on my part about what I was asking the glass to do for me.  As I said the piece survived this firing in clear frit; but it was very delicate so I refired it and the plaster mold created quite a bit of damage to the kiln in its firing later in the month (October 29).

Due to delays while on Reading week at Sheridan, I fired up another bible (soft glass) on October 26 (@11:am)  in kiln #4.  There were actually 2 pieces this time.  The closed upright version of the bible plus a base to support the weight of my friend Ron’s cross did not survive the firing.  The molds actually cracked and leaked ( no damage this time to the kiln). The pics below show the current status of each piece as of this writing.

This is presently how the refired upright bible looks

Here is the other soft glass version of my bible done October 26 (@11:am) in kiln #4


  1. 3:  hrs…………….^90 degrees
  2. 12:  hrs…………..^110 degrees
  3. 24:  hrs………….^124   “
  4. 30:  hrs………….^600   ”

    This is what survived of the based for the bible. The discolouration was a piece of copper (2mil) sheeting meant to survive as a half mask

  5. 32:  hrs………….@600  “
  6. 32:01  hrs……….^850  “
  7. 50:  hrs…………..@850   “
  8. 50:01  hrs……….  516    “
  9. 65:  hrs……………@516  “
  10. 90:  hrs…………..  390    “
  11. 110: hrs  …………  50     “

During this time, I successfully managed to produce 1 open-faced bible made from the float glass.  Below is the schedule for this Open-faced bible from October 24 (@11:30 am) in kiln #5


  1. 3:   hrs…………….^90 degrees

    Presently how the float glass open-faced bible shows

  2. 12:  hrs……………^110  “
  3. 24:  hrs……………^120   “
  4. 30:  hrs …………..^600  “
  5. 32:  hrs……………@600  “
  6. 32:01 hrs………….^850   “
  7. 50:  hrs…………….  540    “
  8. 65:  hrs……………  @540   “
  9. 90:  hrs…………..     420    “
  10. 110 :  hrs…………..  50       “

As of 9: am, November 18, my most recent open-faced bible began its firing in kiln #5 (soft glass).

I can list the steps used in the program. But the program was another lengthy one.  It was just cooling when I left to help with the installation of our Northern Lights sculpture at the new Sheridan HMC Mississauga campus (across from Square One).  Friday morning required us to meet our Craft History teacher downtown at the Harbourfront Centre.

You might have noticed that I am using clay (not wax) to form this book-like form.


  1. 4: hrs                ^  100 degrees

    I have blocked up my form so that no matter what happens, the plaster is not likely to move.

  2. 24: hrs              ^ 120 degrees
  3. 34: hrs                ^  600   “
  4. 49:  hrs               @ 600  “
  5. 49:01 hrs             ^ 875  “
  6. 85:  hrs             @  875  “
  7. 85:01 hrs             > 516     “
  8. 115:  hrs                @ 516   “
  9. 175:  hrs                > 390  “
  10. 215:  hrs                > 50     “

That is how I wrote the program–because now I am paranoid about allowing enough time for drying and melting of glass.  However, somewhere into the melting process Orion convinced me that I had perhaps attempted overkill for the melting cycle and since the glass appeared completely melted (and showed some small cracks in the mold), we moved forward to the annealing cycle.

Stay tuned for the pictures to show  how my efforts turned out!!

Today’s writing is now Sunday, November 27.  Now that my vehicle has been repaired of a faulty wheel bearing, I can return to school tomorrow.

Prototype of the metal cross-2nd edition is expected to be scaled down

This is the plaster cast I have prepared and have begun firing in soft glass as of this writing

Below are shown the actual cross as well as the plaster cast that is currently being fired as of this writing.

So much happens in the days of being a student!

As of 9:am, November 18, I fired a program to melt soft glass in what we call the Italian kiln in our glassblowing studio.

Here are the steps as they took place without mishap.

Because all of our other kilns work on a different program, I included the equivalent program so that I could understand what I did, should I look back at a later point.

This a detail shot to show the texture of the original metal cross.


Accum.       Equiv.                   Celsius                 Fahrenheit

  1. 4:  hrs     (240 min)           ^  100 degrees  ..     200 degrees
  2. 14:  hrs   (600 min)             ^ 120   ”            ..    248      “
  3. 30: hrs     (960 min)             ^ 120  ”           ..    248       “
  4. 40:  hrs    (600 min)              ^  600  ”       ..   1112        “
  5. 43: hrs    (180 min)                @ 600  ”       ..   1112        “
  6. 43:01  hrs  (1 min -9999)      ^  875  ”       ..    1600       “
  7. 51:  hrs       (480 min)              @  875  ”    ..     1600       “
  8. 51:01  hrs   (1 min-9999)        >   515  ”     ..      960       “
  9. 75:  hrs     (1440 min)            @  515  ”        ..      960       “
  10. 123:  hrs    (2880 min)              >390  ”        ..      740      “
  11. 148:  hrs    (1440 min)                   50   ”       ..       120       “

Our other kilns run on what we call an “accumulative” program and so the time adds up to be reflected in how we input the data.  On the Italian kiln, you must also allow for the fact that we are no longer working in hours but in minutes with Fahrenheit temperature readings–not Celsius.

The glass melted downward into a plaster cast. The rough edge visible was the exposed open side while melting in the kiln.

This smoother surface was what touched the plaster as the glass melted and would produce a slightly translucent quality to the piece.

Miraculously, there were no actual mishaps in the firing of the cross.  It has survived both the total firing process as well as the grinding  of the exposed rough surface and is now safe for someone to pick up and hold in bare hands.

The actual thickness of the piece is approximately 2 1/2 inches.  It is 32 inches long x 20 inches wide (as was its original metal form).

A smaller, altered more decorative version of the cross is being fired as of this writing in the same Italian kiln with soft glass.  To give stability to the mold while in the kiln, it was done this time as a rectangular shape (whereas the first one was shaped to the cross to reduce the amount of plaster used).  Both casts were so heavy that I needed help to place them inside the kiln.

The 2nd cross was begun in its firing as of 5: pm November 23.  With so much plaster and newly molded from the day before, the program went as follows:


Accum.           Equiv.                  Celsius                     Fahrenheit

  1. 48: hrs      (2880 min)      ^  90 degrees         200 degrees
  2. 96: hr        (2880 min)      ^ 120    ”                  248      “
  3.  120:  hrs      (1440 min)      @ 120   ”                248      “
  4.  144: hrs     (1440 min)       ^ 600     ”              1112       “
  5.  147: hrs     (180 min)          @600    ”              1112      “
  6. 147:01 hrs  (1 min – 9999)    ^ 875    ”              1600   “
  7. 157: hrs     (600 min)            @875   ”                1600   “
  8. 157:01 hrs  (i min – 9999)     >515   ”                  960    “
  9. 181: hrs    (1440 min)             @515  ”                 960    “
  10. 229: hrs    (2880 min)            > 740  ”                390     “
  11. 253: hrs    (1440 min)             >  120  ”                  50     “

What you see in the program is about 5 days of slowly climbing temperature to factor in a lot of drying time and note that it is also a weekend (nearing the end of term–so people are stressed and subject to change whatever plans they make).

You can see how this shape has challenged my approach to casting the glass version. I have yet to see if I can manage to save the swirl.

I usually go up north for the weekend.  I could not be certain that someone would be available to check my program and did not want to take the chance that if something failed, it might have reached a higher temperature.  This particular kiln is not used by most of my classmates (it is best suited for fusing with its top elements whereas the others all have their elements on the sides).  The mold for both crosses were only about 5 inches high and would be exposed to the top elements.  That would work in favour of using this kiln.  It is also the only kiln that would hold this type of form.



About whendidwestart

I am what I consider to be starting my life over. I have been studying art for 2 years and have begun 3 years of glass Crafts & Design in Sheridan College. I am also discovering how much I like to write online--a good thing because applying for scholarships will have one writing a lot of essays. My summer 2010 was about finding the funding to cover my expenses. Whatever I thought my life would be about this past year of school, I never expected to be trying to help 2 daughters in 1st year college when their funding fell short. My summer 2011 became about sitting still long enough to consider the impact of my goals. I look for $$ for supplies and I look for $$ for equipment for when I complete my program. I have a commercial size compressor for running a sandblaster; but no sandblaster. I have a Skutt kiln; but cannot afford the hydro required to fire it up. I have some stained glass and supplies; my program has just had stained glass artist Joseph Cavalieri from New York to input ideas on how we could incorporate what he does to what we do. When I finish here at Sheridan, I expect that I will do mostly cold glass work--stained glass and sandblasting..... Perhaps some work with stone because many of the properties of stone are similar to working with glass! I am also about sharing information with others who want to break from traditional thinking about a lot of things. For example, I have been a Bell Canada since I left home at 15. My Mom used to be a Bell Telephone operator when Bell was the only game in town. My Stepmother and her sister and my sister all worked for MaBell. I once worked for Bell Northern Research and until recently, I thought I would be a Bell customer for life. I am not so certain of that any more. I want to know more about economical phone plans (land & mobile). Are there any out there? I have recently begun to realize that to stay ahead of the game, one would almost have had to study law to understand the significance of a phone plan--no matter what the ads say!
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