I am delighted to be the recipient of one of the Professional Development Bursaries awarded by a-n this year. I am a glass designer maker and have been working on architectural glass projects since 1996. Glass is a seductive medium, very versatile and offers so many creative approaches. In my work I use a range of techniques, traditional or cutting-edge, to interpret my designs, and I am always curious and eager to learn new techniques or to play with materials employed on different applications as well.
I shall be using this Blog to document the research I have been doing into the feasibility of incorporating Thermochromic liquid crystals (TLCs) within the design of glass artworks.
Although a glass installation placed in an architectural space will naturally show a dynamic interaction as the ambient light changes, I wanted to push this attribute further, with the overall objective of providing glass art installations that will dynamically react in some way with changes in the environment.
Liquid crystals are matter in a state that has properties between those of conventional liquid and those of solid crystal. There are many types of liquid crystals but, specifically, the Thermochromic group exhibits a transition into the liquid-crystal phase through a colour spectrum when subjected to temperature changes. It is this colour transition that I want to utilise within my work with glass.
In my next post, I will describe some of the work and the results I have already done and also what I intend to do and achieve over the next few months, thanks to the a-n Bursary.
I hope that others will find this an interesting topic and If anyone would like to find out more, then please don’t hesitate to contact me at: [email protected].
This is my first post of the New Year. It is now 8 months since I was awarded the A-N Professional Development Bursary where I have been using this blog to record the trials and tribulations with my research into using TLCs with architectural glass and it’s an opportunity to evaluate the past and to plan the time ahead.
2017 has been challenging in many ways but also an epiphany of revelations. So, what have been the bigger lessons learnt?
- researching on the Internet alone is not enough;
- sharing the work we are doing is vital;
- understanding and acknowledging our own limitations and the right way to put a foot ahead;
- opening the door of our small world – something could escape, but also something interesting could enter …
On a purely technical front, using the better quality of EVA has paid off and I am now getting far more consistency with the results. I have also started some tests using ITO coated PET film as an alternative way to heat the glass panels and to control the TLCs. The electrical aspect (e.g. terminations, calculation of voltage, resistance and size) is something that I still need to get to grips with, but I am getting there with some help. The main problem is with the the electrical connection and termination. I am not yet totally satisfied with using copper tape and conductive paint is proving to be impractical. Silver conductive paste would probably be ideal, but is far too expensive to buy in small quantities for testing. I am trying to use my charms with suppliers to scrounge some samples, but to no avail yet!!
Finally, I have now started to address developing an actual design using TLCs. I have started to acid etch the blue antique flashed glass panels for my “Wind Map” concept; winter is never the best time of the year to do acid etching because, due to the cold, the hydrofluoric acid is not particularly active and works very slowly. However, things are progressing:
I also have another idea for laminating pieces of glass onto metal mesh to create a kind of flexible glass “curtain” and I have been experimenting to find just the right size of EVA that will bond the glass to the mesh without leaving any residue escaping from under the glass.
As usual, it’s a case of trial and error (with the errors inevitably winning!!).
I always have a strange feeling when writing a blog; whenever I post my experiences, feelings, results of tests, etc. I often feel that the only voice I hear back is my own! I think that writing blogs is like putting a message in a bottle and letting it drift around the open seas of the ethereal world – not knowing where the tides will take it or who will read it. I’ve come to the conclusion that you need to have the patience of learning how to throw a boomerang until you have mastered the technique to get it to come back to you! Anyway, here is another attempt at throwing my boomerang …
In the last few days I have returned to doing some more tests with TLCs; with some more disappointments, but also with some positivity.
Having had the problems with de-lamination using any of the processes I have tried, I started to feel as if I was at a dead end. Despite the incompatibility issues between TLCs and 2-part silicone, I found that if I spray a thin layer of TLCs signs of de-lamination will occur over time, but the bonding of the entire piece of glass will not be compromised.
I made some enquiries to find commercial companies that have the facilities I need for the lamination and have come up with a couple of possibilities in the South West. I have had a very useful meeting with one of them and they very generously gave me some samples of the EVA film that they use along with a sample of another type of film (Thermoplastic Polyurethane – TPU) as well as some silicone sheets for me to make my own vacuum bags to do some more DIY tests. It felt as if Christmas had come early!!
I have tried both; the new EVA film is thicker and a better quality than the one I was using previously. The silicone sheet for making the vacuum bag seemed a good idea as I could make something that was exactly the size I needed without having to fold it to fit into my kiln. However, as the images show, the first attempt was not totally successful. The silicone sheet is so light that when I started the vacuum pump it was immediately sucked into the tube connected to the pump and it was very difficult to get all the creases out to make sure that air was extracted from all the glass samples. This meant that there were quite a few bubbles where air was left trapped inside the glass.
On the positive side, at least the TLCs were still working after the temperature cycling! This may have been because I also kept the temperature lower (although for a longer period of time) while the EVA film was fusing.
I’m now planning some more tests, so watch out for my next message in a bottle and throw of the boomerang …
Since my last post, I have been working on a collaborative project for the design of some graphics to be applied to the windows of a new Visitor Centre. As is inevitably the case, the clients had an extremely tight deadline for the work but, after completing everything on time, I am now still waiting for their feedback and approval for the designs.
It always seems the way with these kind of commissions that you start with lots of energy and enthusiasm which dissipates and evaporates by the time you get to the end of the process. Usually, this is because of the frustrations involved in trying to get all the relevant parties to actually make a decision!
Each time I ask myself: “what have I learnt from this experience?” and what can I do differently next time? Never mind, the next one will be different again, with different problems …
Anyway, I have now switched the computer off and returned to me workbench where the other half-finished projects are in need of attention.
I am currently working on something that I am calling “The other face of the moon”. It consists of a number of glass pyramids with mirrors and old glass photographic negatives bonded inside. I had originally intended to submit this for the Summer Exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen but, I was unable to finish it in time due to the additional work I created for myself when I changed my mind along the way.
It is now almost finished – the mirrors have been stripped and etched, the glass negatives bonded and I’ve fitted some adjustable rod stoppers to the base in order to have a cable passing through to hang them all together.
I have also turned my attention to a final work that will incorporate TLCs. I find weather maps showing the passage of winds and storms intriguing with the way that they constantly change in real time and it is these that have inspired the design for this work.
I have taken a 1 second snapshot of one of these and traced the image that will be used as a stencil for etching the glass. In the lamination, I will add lines painted with TLCs that will react to different temperature ranges to create a certain kind of dynamic in the composition.
It is strange how these images now seem all so familiar with the latest news of hurricanes and storms across the Caribbean and the UK.
Dear Blog, it is now some time since my last post and lots has been happening since then:
- I have applied to submit my work in a London gallery – invited to submit some work, but then rejected at the second stage;
- I have applied for a commission and been accepted for a collaborative approach to the brief to be developed with another glass maker. It will be challenging but, hopefully, constructive;
- applied for a group exhibition at the Devon Guild next year to describe the commissioning process. Selections will be made in September), so I will have to wait until then before I know if I have been selected or not;
- I also spent some time in France working on a completely different front.
I have to admit, the rejection was the hardest to accept. I have waited years before applying, probably due to the fear of being rejected.
There is an Italian song that says: “….and of unsuccesses never talk about…..”. Instead I believe we should all shout louder about them and share our feelings, because rejection means a failure and that could undermine our own fragile self confidence (easily done in the current climate with so few opportunities on offer).
…. and last, but not least, – most of the TLC samples I made using my DIY facility for EVA lamination have started to show bad signs of de-lamination. It must be to do with the lamination process itself, because samples where TLCs weren’t included have also been affected. When trying any new product or process time is always an important test; waiting and observing closely and patiently for any effects over time.
I need to understand what is the cause of this but, in the meantime, I have decided to start some major works using the TLCs and process that have demonstrated a stable outcome and to treat these as prototypes.
One of the more interesting aspect of experimenting with TLCs is that it is possible to apply different layers of them that will react at different temperature ranges. The image below shows the dynamic changes that result.