Feb 16, 2009

The Golden Glow of Dichro

Us fusers love using glass with dichroic coating (commonly known as dichro). Dichro is created by bombarding plates of glass with metal ions until an ultra-thin layer of metal is created on the glass surface. (Don't try this at home, folks). When the glass is moved, the angle of light changes, and the color shifts. We're not talking about dark blue to light blue, but orange to purple, blue to gold, etc. Dramatic color shifts.

Specialists who create dichro ramble on about reflected light and absorbed light. That's more technical than I can understand. I do know that when I fuse the glass, the metal melts and cools at a different rate than the glass, so the metal spreads out a bit and stands up, giving my piece the amazing illusion of 3D depth. It also heightens the color shifts.

Dichro can also be used "as-is"in stained glass, as in the panel on the right, Leaves in Her Hair. In this case there is no melting so no depth, but the color shifts are still very dramatic (as you can see) and there is an interesting metallic sheen on the glass pieces.

Tips for glass artists:

  • always cut dichroic from the back. Even so, when you grind, expect some chipping of the dichro layer, so be gentle with the grinder!
  • If you want to use dichro in lampworking, cut your scraps into thin strips and handle the with tweezers. Heat them slowly in the coolest part of the flame and do your best not to put the flame directly on the dichro coating, only on the back!
  • an excellent source of scrap dichro: http://www.dichro-wonderglass.com/ . When you buy scraps you let them know if you need thick or thin (buy thick for stained glass, thin for fusing and lampworking), black or clear back, or specific COE's. These guys give great service!

No comments: