In a previous posting I started to explore the use of metal wires in a microwave kiln. This time I extend my exploration into the realms of lead and solder scraps as inclusions within glass. In some ways you could consider this as an experiment in recycling old lead and solder in a creative way.
Although I only present you with the results of my first experiments when using a microwave kiln, I have also checked to confirm it also works with a “proper” kiln.
The first picture shows you two rectangles of clear 3mm glass onto which have been placed scraps of lead came or scraps of solder. You can tell which is which by the nichrome wire L (for lead) and S (for solder). I apologise for the fuzzy nature of this picture.
I found that the most difficult part of the experiment was to ensure that the 3mm clear capping glass did not move during firing – always a potential problem with a microwave kiln when a stack of glass is not very stable.
The second picture shows you the results of the experiment and I’m pleased to say it is not so fuzzy as the first picture. I have placed the results on black paper so that you can better see what happened.
The results are encouraging because they shows that lead and solder scraps can indeed be used as inclusions between glass in a microwave kiln. This is good news for you adventurous creative people. It also means we can reduce the amount of scrap we produce by a small amount.
You can see that the pieces of lead and solder have tended to “roll up” into balls. They look rather interesting. Less satisfying is that areas where there is (or has been) lead you will find unattractive yellow-brown deposits. So, unless yellow-brown deposits fit your colour scheme I’d suggest you use scraps of solder rather than lead. There are also some air bubbles in both pieces.
But the worst aspect of this experiment serves as a warning to ensure you have properly prepared your kiln with a separator – and based on this experiment a single layer of thin fire paper is not enough!
The first important point to consider is that the lead and solder scraps will melt well before the glass melts. The problem with this is that there is a consequential risk of the molten lead and solder simply rolling out from between the base and capping glass pieces or being actively squeezed out by the weight of the capping glass as it presses down on the molten lead and solder.
You can see at the bottom of the lead example that there is a bead of lead on the outside which (as you might expect) has managed to penetrate the Bullseye thinfire paper and attach itself to the kiln base. Thankfully I have prepared the base of my microwave kiln with kiln wash so the lead attached to the kiln wash rather than the kiln itself. The moral of this little episode is that kiln damage is minimised by sensible preparations!
So, although you really can melt little pieces of lead and solder in a kiln to produce some interesting effects, you need to be mindful of the possibility of molten metal moving around and getting squeezed out of your glass masterpiece and onto your kiln shelf.
Have a go. Try it for yourself.