Stephen Hodder, Hand Blown Glass
Spencer Brook Studio and Glass School

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Stephen Hodder's Words of Wisdom

"Techniques I Use to Make my Colored Plates and Domes"

The plates and domes, on which I carve my images are blown glass with several layers of colored glass on one side.

I begin by taking rods of overlay color, (very densely colored glass used to color pieces of glass which are made, primarily with clear glass), a heating them to 1350 degrees and slumping them into sheets of glass about ¼ to 3/8 of an inch thick. Next I cut these sheets into smaller pieces, arrange them on a metal tray, and heat them in an oven to about 900 degrees. They are then picked up, one at a time, on a blowpipe. The colored glass is then cased in clear glass several times. As the bubble is blown up, the colored glass becomes thin layers of color on the inside of the bubble. The bubble is then opened into a plate or a dome.

After to plates and domes are removed from the annealer they are ready to be carved. Due to things that happen to the color in the blowing process, I usually can only use one of six or seven plates and domes that I make.

When I am making a piece with thing like birds on them, I start with a pencil drawing. I then transfer the drawing onto the plate with marking pens. With my abstract pieces I draw directly on the piece with the resist material. The resist material I use most of the time is a 6-inch wide paper tape. I put a sheet of it on a sheet of flat glass and use razor blades and a straight edge to cut it into very thin strips. The image is then drawn with these strips of tape. When the image is complete, the tape has to be doubled. When this is done the piece is ready to sandblast.

I use a large tip sandblaster to remove layers of colored glass. When I see a color I want to keep, I take the piece out of the sandblaster and cover those areas with white glue. When the glue is dry I start to blast again. The sandblaster can only cut things that are brittle so it doesn’t cut through the tape or the glue. This process is repeated until the entire surface is covered with glue or the color has been removed exposing the clear glass, which is frosted creating the white background.

I make some parts of the image with a clear plastic tape, which is applied in a sheet, drawn on with a pen, and then cut with a scalpel to form the image. These are the parts of the drawing that have no outline, such as the clouds, the moon, or the sun. When the rest of the blasting is finished, the tape is removed and the glass is cut back to the desired color.

At this point the piece is soaked in water and all the tape and glue are removed. When I see the finished piece, I sometimes want to make changes. This requires re-taping certain areas and covering the rest of the piece with glue and returning to the sandblaster.

When I am satisfied with the final image, I sandblast the back of the piece and photograph it.


All images and other content on this website copyright W. Stephen Hodder, 2005