40cm square Waterjet Platters
By Nicolas Collins
Water-jet platters are made by initially fusing two 3 mm sheets of glass to create two 6 mm sheets of black and white. Once fused, they are placed on a waterjet cutter that slowly follows a detailed Auto CAD drawing. The CAD drawing is developed using Adobe Illustrator and depending on the complexity of the design can take several hours to draw.
The waterjet cutter is able to cut fine strands of glass of around 5 mm and less, which would be impossible to do without this machine. Once cut the strands are cleaned to avoid devitrification and then laid onto a kiln shelf and fired at temperatures of around 800°C. It takes just under 2 days to reach the top temperature and then cool to room temperature to fuse all the individual strands together. Again once fired the sheet is cut into a square of around 40 cm x 40 cm and then cold-worked with diamond tools to give a soft edge.
After this the glass sheet is placed over a ceramic slumping mould and fired at lower temperatures of around 650°C to heat the glass to the point in which it becomes soft enough for gravity to bends the glass into shape. Each design is created in pairs, fired three times and can have as many as 100 strands on one of the more complex designs, each one requiring delicate handling.
Nicholas favours opaque glass because when fired, it tends to look like a material that does not instantly resembles glass, but enjoys the challenges that this medium presents. Using opaque glass can be notably difficult to work with making these pieces both technical complex and individual.