My Fascination with Calcedonia Glass

close-up of my Mystery Opal glass

My fascination with Calcedonia, or silver glass, started in Santa Fe at Peter VanderLaan’s old studio, about 15 years ago. During the 5 years that I worked out of his studio, he melted his own formulas and shared some of his knowledge of glass melting with me. This fascination of glass colors continued in Italy where I spent time with Dino Rosin, sitting behind his bench, watching he and his team working the glass, and having homemade lunches every day with his family. I was lucky enough to meet him through my dear friend Kevin Schluker, who spent 10 months working with Dino the previous year, (and now is Dino’s translator when he comes to America).

Having been a ceramist in school, and making glazes,  I was familiar with most of the materials used in the process of melting glass. When I finally built my own studio in 2000, I had two separate furnaces built; one for clear glass and one for colors. The more I worked with Calcedonia, the more I fell in love with the mysteries of it. The beauty of Calcedonia glass is that each piece is different; and the exact flow of lines and color of Calcedonia cannot be duplicated. I have been playing with the formula the last 10 years, striving to find ways of bringing out more vibrancy in the color for my own sculptures. There are so many variables involved: heat, timing, temperature, furnace atmosphere and pressure. It can be so alchemic, sometimes I’d swear that the moon cycles affect it too! Also, it’s not just the melt that’s important, it’s how much you heat and cool it on the pipe that determines the vibrancy of the colors. It is a complex set of factors that bring out the best in this formula. Sometimes it can be very frustrating, but the rewards are awesome!

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