This Saturday, I took my first coldworking class (one week late, due to last week’s snowpocalypse). Coldworking is exactly what it sounds like - methods of altering your glass once it is cold. The cold shop is a land of grinding wheels, belt sanders, water and grit. These tools are used to tidy up glass art, polish it and decorate it.
Our teacher, Ashley, ran through about nine demos on different machines, speed racer style. She ground glass on different wheels, carved lines using the lathe, signed her name with a dremel and sandblasted. The first few demos were all on wheels, grinding glass. When you grind glass, you start with the roughest grit and work your way up to the finer grit for a smoother finish – just like sandpaper. In the next two weeks, we’ll be using the wheels to practice six different finishes on glass cubes.
After the demos, we were given pint glasses to try out the lathe, the dremel and the sandblaster. I was most interested in the sandblaster, so I used masking tape and stickers to mask the areas on my cup that I didn’t want sandblasted. The sandblaster uses compressed air to propel sand, creating a “frosted” surface anywhere that isn’t masked. There are no less than six switches you have to turn on for the sandblaster – power switches, light switches, air pressure and one other guy that I’m not sure what he does. After I had finished sandblasting my cup, it was already time to clean up. (I think I spent a little too much time perfecting my masking tape design.) I’m hoping to pick up a little of Ashley’s speed racer style before next week so I can practice some of the other tools!
My two most important lessons from the first week:
The cold shop is freezing, wear an extra sweat shirt.
The cold shop is cold, but not dry. Nearly every tool requires water to keep the glass from getting too hot while you are sanding or grinding.
Over the weekend I also took a stained glass class – check back later this week to find out which coldworking tool I got to use and which part of the process had me the most frustrated!