One of my favorite places on earth...
|http://www.kog.com/ Just a hop, skip, and a jump over to Kokomo, Indiana!|
|A frame I made using sheet glass made at Kokomo Opalescent Glass|
|Entering the KOG glass manufacturing building|
|The ingredients for the 122 year old glass "recipes" are placed into each of the 12 pots of this furnace and overnight they are melted together in preparation to become sheet art glass.|
|These workers are ready to ladle. |
The long silver handles are attached to little bowls which carry the molten glass.
Right now they are cooling in a tank of water.
|A pile of left-over molten glass. |
You have absolutely no idea what color the glass is until it cools.
Every minute and a half a bell rings, signaling the men to dip their ladles into the furnace and gather the glass for the next sheet of art glass to be made. They dip out certain amounts of particular colors, then rush over to the mixing table.
Once the ladles are emptied onto the mixing table, a flat metal surface on a conveyor, the Mix Man mixes the 45-50 pounds of liquid colors together with a two-pronged fork.
The Mix Man, a highly experienced craftsman, basically determines what the glass sheet will look like in the end. Too much mixing and the colors will combine too much and develop an indistinct look. Too little mixing will produce blotchy, uneven color blends. Once his mixing-intuition is satisfied, the Mix Man feeds the glass through double rollers, extruding a sheet of glass about 96 inches long and 35 inches wide.
Once the molten glass is pressed into a sheet, it moves to an annealing lehr where it will cool to its natural color. An annealing lehr is a temperature controlled oven where the glass can cool slowly to prevent breaking. At the end of the glass's journey it reaches the cutting area.
Glass cutters, wearing heavy arm protectors, check for consistent thickness and colors, then trim the glass sheet and throw the cut-offs into a bin for recycling.
The finished glass sheets are then shipped off to anxiously waiting customers around the world, or sold in the Op Shop (KOG's on-site retail shop) to local, and not-so-local, glass artists.
Our tour didn't end with the sheet glass production. We went on to tour the factory's hot glass studio where they create hand spun and blown glass art, and also visited with the craftspeople producing stained glass art, windows, glass beads, and other art glass creations. I learned so much about the glass making process during my tour of Kokomo Opalescent Glass, and left feeling all sorts of inspired! I can't wait to go again...anyone up for a field trip?!
|The mad dash to the mixing table. |
(Please forgive the blurriness of my photos. Flash photos would distract the workers handling the molten lava-glass.)
|Depositing the molten glass onto the mixing table.|
|The Mix Man mixing.|
|The mixed glass being sent through double rollers, extruded into a flat sheet, and sent into the annealing lehr, or oven.|
|The cutting area. |
The large silver "wall" behind the men is the annealing lehr.
The glass is conveyed out, directly into the cutting room.
|Inspecting and stacking finished glass sheets, ready for shipment or retail.|
|Prepared glass in the aptly nicknamed Rainbow Room.|