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Silvered Glass


It's fascinating that most elements on the periodic table are metals. Their qualities are diverse. Exploring the myriad ways to use metals in art gives one the privilege of playing with the very building blocks of the universe.

I had been looking for reflectivity in paint as a way to engage light as a medium in my 2 dimensional work. Having been inspired by the art of the middle ages at the National Museum and the Louvre, I went on a search to make use of metals in my own work to extend light as a spiritual metaphor. Lacking the patience and skill for leafing, I found exciting the effects of powdered metals in binders as a way to capture and manipulate metals on paper. But when I learned of glass silvering, it was as if I were literally vibrating with excitement, knowing that this medium would play an important role in my future work.


Now, silvering is a rather expensive medium. Consider the worth of silver by the ounce. And in learning, I wasted hundreds of dollars in failed experimentation. I also learned that glass scratches easily. There were many pieces that I was satisfied with artistically, only to have the gallery point out the surface flaws from less than careful handling.


The potential of the medium helped put all discouragement behind me and carry on. I was also intrigued by the watery potential of metal in nitrate form. This process requires a mixture of the silver solution, an activator and a reducer. Once combined, they give a 5 minute working window to explore your craft. Because patination is a natural curiosity, I continued combining different elements and chemicals to age the silver with varying effects. I also was able to get some nice effects in copper on glass as well.


People ask about the process behind my works, so here are some photos of works in progress. the glass needs to be thoroughly cleaned and then tinned to receive the silver (paladium for copper). Once the silver chemicals are mixed, you wait until the silver begins to pool on the surface of the water. I capture the run off and dispose of it at a chemical waste facility because it can be harmful to the environment.

I've been experimenting with using silvered glass in conjunction with metals and paper. See these series, here, here, and here for results.


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