Handbook, part 4: Mass customisation of glass building components


I’ve been looking at how glass is made, either traditionally or in large scale factories. I do like the idea of craft being supported or enhanced by technology (mainly robots), much in the way I’ve been using the robot arm for fabrication. 

It’s rather obvious that moulds are an essential part of both manual glass blowing and mechanical, industrial glass component production. The actual moulds can be the same regardless the process, so it stands to reason that the mass customasation part should come from this element.

Let’s say we have a steel mould. If you were to have a machine that blows the glass into it, the process would be very quick. The resulting glass object won’t have ripples, the glass will be thin and its thickness equal and consistent. However, if you use the same mould and traditionally hand blow glass hen the result is likely to have ripples, slighlty unequal thickness, and slightly different from object to object. The question is, which one do you want?

If you just want something functional, like a juice bottle, machines are perfect. However, wouldn’t it be lovely to have a large wall of blown glass bricks as a facade?

I can’t make glass at the moment because it’s VERY expensive to train and make it in London. I’m using sugar, plaster, epoxy resin, etc to explore the process of casting and blowing in moulds.


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