Pate de Verre is an ancient glass working technique using molds, glass frit and glass fusing kilns to produce solid glass objects.
Rediscovered in the late 1800's, the term pate de verre literally translated from French means a "paste of glass".
The technique can be used to produce an extensive range of glass kiln fired solid glass sculptures or hollow vessels. The items produced can be of one color or have detailed surfaces with color variations.
Many items are made with a matte surface but can quite often have a wet style rough surface.
Glass items are cast by using an original model to make a mold which will be filled with a glass paste.
Molds are generally made from plaster based materials, available from most ceramic supply shops. Various formulas can be made up to suit the type of mold required.
Any model that is used must be capable of being removed without breaking the mold.
Once a mold has dried the model is removed and the mold may be kiln fired to remove any organic material.
A glass paste is then made for placing in the mold. It will consist of colored glass frit held together with water or glass glue which forms a thick semi solid paste.
Frit may also be colored with finely ground colored glass powder.
Thin layers of glass paste are applied to the mold, the piece is then fired in a glass fusing kiln. If needed, more layers of frit can be applied after each fused glass firing.
Once firing and annealing is complete the mold can be broken away and the glass piece removed and cleaned.
The techniques can vary as some artists work with a moist mold and wet paste. Special glass fusing firing programs are used to dry the mold and paste during the firing cycle.
This approach usually requires a long fusing cycle to ensure the steam escapes from the kiln prior to the kiln being fully closed or sealed. This will need a number of fusing cycles before the kiln can be closed.
A properly fired piece will be free of surface bubbles and should have a rich translucent quality.
The process can be quite long and involved, including making your own model, mold construction, glass paste making, packing the mold and firing.
It is better to start with a small piece for your first try, smaller pieces require far less materials overall as well as less effort in mold making.
There are a number of open molds which can be purchsed for varied pate verre projects.
Visit Colour De Verre for an excellent range of products as well as technical information.