Glassworking Spotlight: The First Marble I Ever Made

To kick off the Glassworking Spotlight series, I want to talk about the first marble I ever made: an implosion marble.

First Implosion Marble

I think as with all things that require practice, it’s important to see how far you are from where you started. Especially in art-related fields, where progress can sometimes be slow, or be a blur. Having something to show you where you started can be extremely motivating.

Additionally, this introductory post can give my readers an idea of what these posts are about. They might not particularly be glassworkers (which is to be expected). However, I have found that many non-glassworking enthusiasts are interested in glassworking. At least, from for curiosity’s sake.

So, the type of marble I have made here is an “Implosion” marble. While you might guess  because it somewhat looks like something is Imploding, it’s not the actual reason. We call these marbles Implosion marbles because of how the final pattern is made on the glass. To make these types of marbles, the artist will apply a pattern of dots or lines onto a flat disk of clear glass. The artist then heats up the edges of the disk. The sides of the disk start to soften and flow down towards the center. This pushes the pattern into the middle of the glass, causing the design you see.

That’s roughly, in a nutshell how I make these designs. There are many different types of designs I can make, and I’ll be highlighting some of them over the coming posts. Of course, not every post I make in this category will feature a new design. But they might feature new patterns or colors. Again, this post series is to show my progress, so repeated designs will come up.

Now, there are some obvious problems with this marble. First off (and this might be difficult to see from the photograph) is that it’s not perfectly round. The artist I worked with asked if I wanted to have this marble rounded off perfectly, and I declined. I think the flaws in the piece make it valuable. The piece was done entirely by me, with no help from anyone else.

But other than that, given what I have learnt since then, there is another flaw. The air bubbles in the glass are not intentional. Now, while air bubbles do look nice on certain pieces (particularly flowers), they don’t quite fit on this piece. Air bubbles usually appear when joining two pieces of glass incorrectly. However, on this piece, there’s another reason.

Air bubbles are caused by colors “boiling”. Certain colors, if heated too much, can actually boil. You’ll actually see bubbles forming on the surface of the glass. Colors that are susceptible to boiling include colors that are rich in Cadmium. Cadmium colors are normally opaque yellow, orange or red.

These Cadmium colors are extremely difficult to work with. As of the time of this post, I have still not seriously worked with Cadmium colors because of two reasons:

  • They take a lot of practice and are difficult to work with
  • They are expensive due to a shortage

The last thing I want to do is work with a color that is expensive just to practice. I’d much rather improve my general skill in handling molten glass first, before I move on to more difficult colors.

But yes, amateur me had absolutely no chance of not getting the reds and yellows to boil in this piece. But regardless of its flaws, this piece is still important to me. In fact, I still have it with me in a showcase. Usually, my rejected pieces go into a carton at my workplace. This one is difference. This one sits in a showcase, as a reminder of where I started.

I’m not sure, but I may even recreate this piece some time in the future when I am confident enough in my skill. I might even post a comparison a few years on (if this blog is still going) to show you how far I’ve come!

Glassworking is an incredibly interesting hobby. I’ll be talking about it more general soon, so stay tuned!

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