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PATE DE VERRE

 

 

This is a technique of taking cold glass that has been crushed into a powder and converted into a paste with binders. This is then pasted onto the inside of a mould and fired to between 760-800oC. The name ‘Pate de Verre’ was coined by the French in the late 19th Century but it is one of the oldest techniques of glassmaking. Mesopotamian texts dating back to the early 2nd millennium BC describe such methods of working with glass. Treated as a special material due to the time and techniques involved in kiln casting, glass was highly prized - one Egyptian name for it meant ‘Stone that Flows’.

 

The Egyptians created exquisite glass vessels for the elite by kiln casting using the crushed glass techniques. The introduction of glass blowing by the Romans meant that glass objects became available to the common people and kiln casting studios diminished.

 

Archaeological discoveries in the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe instigated a revival in the kiln cast glass arts and more recently in the Studio Movement, after they faded again during the wars. Because the Pate de Verre technique is still very labour intensive, involving all the steps from model making, firing, cleaning and polishing, it is still somewhat of a rarity in the world of glass and valued accordingly.

 

It is perhaps surprising then that I have chosen this technique to create work which involves multiples. However, it is this method that brings out the qualities of glass that I value the most - fragility and rawness with irregularities and fine surface detail.

 

I will often incorporate a variety of methods including Pate de Verre to create a piece that is unrestrained in my endeavour to push limits to see what is possible ..