After thirteen years of trying to solve the problem of fusing glass with clay, Oregon glass and ceramic artist, John Groth, has discovered the chemical formula and process behind a clay body that is compatible with glass. The process is now patent pending. Since 2000, John Groth’s sculptures have incorporated the techniques that he developed. These techniques fuse clay and glass, using kiln forming and hot glass techniques. The fusion of the two together brings out the best qualities of each material and allows them to balance and accent each other. The glass is transparent and appears to be fluid where as the clay offers sculptural and structural qualities to a finished piece. The fusion of the two creates surfaces and textures within the composite that were never before possible. Thick layers of glass add an intensity and color depth that cannot be achieved by clay and glaze alone. The juxtaposition of clay elements, within or projecting through the glass, show off the ability of the clay to hold its shape, texture, and form. The glass flows over, through, and around the clay. A barrier has been hurdled with his discovery that will provide wonderful new possibilities to the world of glass and ceramic art.
Direction With almost thirty years of selling his limited editions, collector’s editions, and one-of-a-kind ceramics and glass through galleries internationally, he has now chosen to shift his focus to utilizing his new discovery and to exploring its applications in sculpture, blown glass roll-ups, and in architectural instalations.
Over the past decade John has worked on public and commercial glass as well as multimedia art projects, as a coordinator, fabricator and a designer. In much of his recent work, he has incorporated the use of his fusible clay body into his public installations. Each new work is an exciting challenge of developing an idea that is compatible with the site environment.
John’s studio and equipment have become a doorway for working with many other artists and assisting them with their fabrication and technical needs, with their private and public art projects. John has also donated his studio and time to hosting workshops with other glass artists from out of state. Moreover, he has provided his expertise with glass fabrication for such internationally known glass artists as Narcissus Quagliata, Preston Singletary, June Kaneko and the Bullseye Glass Company.
The Process of Discovery
A Glass Compatible Clay body -the Process of Discovery
I started as a potter in the 70’s and have a degree in ceramics. In 1986,I started to fuse glass.I was hooked on the intense colors.I was like a kid in a candy store.I created works that used both fused glass and ceramics with the use of epoxies to hold them together. My desire to actually fuse glass and clay together fueled my quest of over a decade of testing for aGlass Compatible Clay body. Discovery is the process of learning from your failures. The road to discovery was not always easy.My understanding of the medium meant thousands of tests and volumes of documentation.The clues to my discoveries have been scattered throughout my career.My early testing on glazes and clays held the foundation to my understanding of the physical problems of fusing clay and glass together.It was my continuous testing of materials that has filled in and completed the puzzle. With the discovery of a glass compatible clay body I can now fuse the clay under glass, in-between glass, through the glass, as well as on top of glass.I have formulas for different coefficient of expansion (COE) glasses including:Plate Glass – COE 85, Bullseye Galss – COE 90, and Spectrum Glass – COE 96. What makes fusible clay so great is the glass is transparent and fluid, whereas the clay offers sculptural and structural qualities.The juxtaposition of clay elements, within or projecting through the glass, show off the ability of the clay to hold its shape, texture, and form.The glass flows over, through, and around the clay.The fusion of the two creates structure, surfaces, and textures within the composite that were never before possible.Every type of media speaks to its own true properties.What I am excited about is that the fusion of clay and glass brings out the best qualities of each material and allows them to balance and accent each other.Thick layers of glass add an intensity and color depth that cannot be achieved by clay and glaze alone. The two together is something completely new. What is a compatible clay body?
Compatibility is a function of not only of the coefficients of expansion but the viscosity of the fused components. (runny or stiff).The clay and the glass must have the same coefficient of expansion, or the viscosities must be mismatched in a way that counters any mismatch in coefficient of expansion to make them compatible. “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong”-Benjamin Franklin Back to more testing with glass.Over thousands of tests and I still did not know the annealing temperature of the clay. Were my tests showing incompatibility or were my methods of testing causing a compatible test to give a false negative result?More failures in the process of discovery, but I still trudged on trying different combinations of materials and different firing schedules.Not every advance I made towards my understanding of fusing clay and glass together was from intelligent process.There were times when I had just mixed the batch wrong.The question then was, “what did I do wrong that was so right?” Fusible clay can be used like any other clay, it is plastic and can be manipulated by a number of traditional clay forming techniques.As long as the clay is not fired it can be re wetted mixed and used over. Cut shapes and clay elements can be re-fired into new compositions.New layers of glass, or clay, can be added and fused to provide shape color and texture. Compatible clay can be fused with glass in sheets and then blown using the roll-up process.Glass can be gathered onto a pre-fired compatible clay shape. Compatible clay, when it dries on glass, will shrink and crack like dry mudflats.This is an exciting aspect of clay fused with glass because you can see through these fissures and know that something un-glass like is happening.When blowing the glass these fissures open up and constrict depending on the manipulation of the glass. Texturing can be thin and translucent like a film or heavy with preformed shapes. Another exciting application is colored compatible clays that I have developed. Colored clays like compatible colored glass, have to be individually formulated to make each color compatible with each other. I have developed colored enamels to airbrush onto the clay, as well as the glass, to add dimension and color to my work. Fusing clay and glass continues to surprise me with new and exciting discoveries.
John Groth Glass * 333 NE Lincoln St. Hillsboro, OR 97124 *