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FREE Admission
Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL

Open Daily 10:00 - 17:00 Call: 0191 515 5555

BOOK BY PHONE: 0191 568 9700

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Goshka Bialek

Metal inclusions in glass for creative use.

Bialek, Malgorzata (Started 2009) Metal inclusions in glass for creative use. PhD study, University of Sunderland.



The focus of the research was to investigate methods of combining two materials, metal and glass. Specifically concentrating on the application of a variety of metals in glass, with different glass techniques, for creative use. 

Metal inclusions constitute a necessary element in the further development of my artistic practice. However, it was found that the palette of metals used by artists was restricted and the present technologies available for artists have many limitations such that it was crucial to extend the range of systems for artistic practice. 

Current practice in this field is illustrated through an evaluation of the works of a number of artists who employ glass and inclusions (especially metal). Some artists were chosen as they have connections with industry or are interested in technology, and they apply this in their artistic practice. The research also investigated artists’ personal technical procedures and the specific reasons for the development of their procedures. The artists were asked, wherever possible, to provide a statement relating to their technical and creative practice, as well about the limitations encountered. The collected data was used to determine further directions to develop this research area. 

Following this, the application of metals in glass as a distinctive method of creating shape and internal structure as well as issues relating to transparency, clearness and texture to glass was explored. This project has developed and documented new possibilities in the application of metal inclusions for creative practice. Experiments to identify creative parameters for combining glass and metal, especially in the hot state, and process routes that allowed the combining of these two materials in the hot state were developed and tested. This testing was further extended by compatibility studies and developing applications of metal in glass methods to avoid problems arising from compatibility issues between these materials. In particular, experiments were concentrated on nickel, nickel alloys and lead alloys in hot poured glass formed in moulds. 

The results of these investigations were explored in the context of the application of metals with glass in various industries, the scientific developments in these fields and the possibility to apply these materials and techniques for creative use by an artist in a studio environment. 

Finally, the research was extended to examine other metal inclusions and now provides the glass artist with an alternative palette of techniques and effects. 

Original contribution to knowledge was to create the techniques for applying nickel and lead alloys in glass in hot stage for creative practice with the solution of many problems accompanying to these processes. For instance: 

▪ building high temperature resistant moulds with very fine textured surface (even in 1200⁰C not responsive to the glass), 

▪ development of appropriate firing cycles to fully control the applications of the inclusions, 

▪ creation of lubricants and develop appropriate methods to apply them to prevent reaction and compatibility problem between applied materials. 

The subject of this research might also be an interesting vehicle to instigate cooperation between scientists and artists, as well as enabling understanding through a different approach to this subject.



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