As I mentioned in my October Fused Glass Newsletter I went to see my son and daughter-in-law in October. But since it is also related to fused glass I thought I’d share a couple of portions of our trip in my blogs. First, how the trip got started was about 4 months ago; my husband and I were talking about what we were going to do for our yearly vacation. I mentioned I really want to see David and Fay. He’s said he wanted to as well and he wanted to drive down the western coast. So I said I have a great idea why don’t we fly into Portland Oregon and we can drive the coast to San Francisco! So it was a plan.
What I didn’t tell my husband is that Bullseye Glass has their factory in Portland. Moreover, I didn’t to him that my sales representative, Devon, mentioned during my fused glass printing class in September that if I get to Portland to give her a call. She also said, she’ll give me a tour of the Bullseye glass factory while I was there! In 2015 I am going to start writing some blogs about Bullseye glass but I had such a great time that I just had to write a couple now.
First Devon, was amazing, I emailed her and she set up a personal tour for me. We landed, then drove straight through to the factory / resource center. This was no easy feat as the traffic was atrocious! But it was worth the drive and the traffic. Devon met me and gave me a personal tour of the factory. She showed me the glass and how it was made. Then she explained how the metallic oxides are added to make various glass colors. I knew about most of the oxides used to make the colors, but she also said that potatoes can be added to the mixture to make pink! That I didn’t know. Evidently it’s used as a stabilizer. She also explained how aventurine is made, which you may know is one of my favorite types of glass!
She also explained that in the 1970’s the workers would roll the barrels up and down the streets to mixup the ingredients! Crazy! Now they have rollers, thank goodness because they are big barrels. The machine rolls them for around 2hrs each. She also said they use to have beer in the soda machines! Maybe that’s why they didn’t mind rolling those heavy barrels around the streets!
Anyway then we went to where the glass was made was and watch the guys (casting crew) would take hot molten glass (with a steel shovel / ladle) from one furnace and mix it with glass from another furnace and put it on the casting / double roller table where the caster will flatten it so it goes thru the double roller and and comes out the other side where caster is waiting and moves the glass with what looked like a big spatula (light weight metal plate) to the annealer (Lair) where it’s cooled. I must tell you this was incredible to watch and the 3-4 man team was fantastic. It was a well choreographed “dance” that was mesmerizing! I could have watched them for hours!
BTW from the time it goes from the furnace to the annealer it is 2500 to 2300 degrees so the guys have to be quick and strong. The ladle is 20 lbs and they load it with 10 lbs of hot molten glass. When I was there they were making streaky glass, which was why they mixed the glass. I always wondered how they did that! Anyway Devon told me how they make the other specialty glasses and how they added metallic to make Iridized glass!
Then she showed me how it came out of the annealer (about 45 mins), marked and tested for compatibility! Sometimes if the glass isn’t compatible for fusing they can use it for stained glass or “non-fusible” glass. Which for you fusers out there, can still be slumped. Sometimes when the glass is tested it’s not the exact color it’s suppose to be but is fusible they sell it at a discounted price as “curious” glass. Now this is the first time I heard that and how novel the concept is because there is no waste. Truly a unique piece of glass!
Then she showed me the storage room with rows and rows of glass! It was so cool I had to take a picture. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the factory but, if you want to see the process in action I recommend this video “What is Glass”. I watched it again after my trip and all I can say is WOW! It was so great to watch in person!
In case I’m not making this clear enough, one thing I want to clarify is bullseye makes each piece of glass by hand!! It’s not all perfect and machine made; it’s unique and hand crafted! They make glass 21 of 24 hours (the other 3 hrs is for maintenance) and it takes 3 months to train someone in the process!
It makes me proud to use Bullseye glass and lucky to have witnessed the process first hand.
Bullseye is a great company and everyone in the factory and the resource center were fabulous! Especially Devon.
In this day in age of everything is either machine made or made in China that is pretty amazing! If you would like to see Bullseye’s video about how glass is made click here.
Keeping my Kiln Warm