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I Forge Iron

artistic problem


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I have an idea of mixing smithing and glass, but have never tried it out. I have developed a liking for making the split & un-folded crosses, and alot of people are asking me about and for them. What I wanted to try was to mush/melt/forge a marble into the opening created when the cross is split. I have lots of marbles (haven't lost them all yet) and wanted to give it a try.

Does glass shrink down when cooled, like steel does?
Can I just put a marble into the forge (mine is gas) and pull it out when it glows?

thanks in advance

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It's been done before. The steel and the glass(quartz) do have different shrink rates. The steel will shrink more causing the glass to have small chips fly off. it won't explode unless you drop it into water when hot. this can actually add to the look of the piece at times at it then appears faceted(cut) if in a crude way. I'd still recommend a full face shield and a leather apron, just to be safe. just cool it as slowly as possible (bury in old ash or vermiculite) that's dry. Be sure to let us know how it turns out if you try it.

above advice to be taken with a grain of salt, and always use protective equipment.

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I am interested in doing the same combination but with fireplace screens. I have not yet had to chance to try but the technique that I read was to forge your iron/steel to shape and then melt the glass into the area where you want the glass.
Seems pretty much what you had in mind. I have no marbles, being 55 and working ing the Canadian federal bureaucracy for 32 years, I have definitely lost them all!!, but was going to get cast offs from a stained glass shop for a bulk price.
It seemed to me that a fireplace screen with several spaces filled in with different coloured glass could be attractive in front of the fire and to potential customers. Customers could custom order screens and contribute to the design of them as well if they wished.


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A marble inserted into the poper sized punched and drifted hole will work. I've seen it heated with a torch to keep things cleaner than in a forge. I've also seen folks break up different colored glass bottles (always remember safety glasses) and use that for an inset. Again, heating with a small welding tip on a torch is in order so the pieces aren't blown out of the hole before they melt. It's also helpful to back the hole with a plate to keep the glass in place until it cools enough to set.

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Well now theres a good idea with seemingly endless possibilitys! Combining glass and forged work without the need for any other special tools-NEAT!!!
Thanks for posting this interresting thread Pault17 and the great link keykeeper! Ive just learnt something new!!!

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Pault17, Thanks, I am really glad you started this thread and looking for answers. I've wondered about hot steel and glass together... one example, I have always wanted to put a marble into a basket twist. Forge the basket then twist, partial untwist and spread the basket just enough to slip a marble in the push the parts back and even up. I thought it would look so wild after it cooled, as a handle for something...But
Have to admit I was a tad nervous the marble coming in contact with the hot steel might explode, so I have been putting it off. Sliding of to the side of the bench for later, yeah later, thats right later! WEAK EXCUSE, I KNOW!
Now you got me fired up again to do it!! Thanks
(to anyone else in the know...the marble won't explode?...right?!?!?!)
(sorry, didn't mean to high jack your thread)

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I do not think a marble will explode, unless maybe one that was hollow or filled with some sort of liquid. I have watched several glass blowers in action, and the wares they make have to be treated or annealed sort of. What happens is if the piece cools too quickly in the open air, it will contract and break. The glass blower at the state arts and crafts fair make things through the day, and places each in some sort of oven/container that holds the temp. and gradually lets it cool, I think.

Besides, why would glass explode? It is in a molten state when they work it by blowing, or mold it by pouring, much like metal.

As an aside, the same mentioned glass blower had a really cool kiln, fired by blown natural gas, I was sure to make some notes after looking at the setup. He came over when he saw me checking it out, so I explained the blacksmithing obsession to him, thus the examination of the burner. Turns out he and his father do some smithing too. Go figure! Needless to say, I told em all about our state association, and will be forwarding info about it to them!!!

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I was flipping through Alex Bealers book "The Art of Blacksmithing" on Pages 287 and 288 He has a description and an illustration of inlaying ground colored glass from soda bottles. It a short quick discription but most of the info in the book is. If you don't have it you might see if your local library does. I think I paid 10 dollars for mine awhile back.


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John, I've see something similar where they simply broke bottles, jars, what ever in small pieces. Main idea is to relieve any stress in the glass so it won't explode like a marble could. Relieve you own stress when you bust it up, too. LOL

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G'Day all.
yeah i know i said i wouldn't post again , but .....:)
I've " tried " the mixed medium of glass in iron look , i found if the iron cools too fast the glass will chip / spall , reason being the iron cools slower then the glass & contracts on cooling ( crushing the peice of glass as it cools )
I found if you leave on top of the fire , slowly moving it away i have better results that way ( less chipping / spalling )
Works for me ....

Cheftcook ,
make your basket as usual , cool ( i dunk in slack tub ) put in vice , pry open 1 strand of the basket enough to fit what ever it is you want to put inside , close up again ( i usually do this after i've finished whatever it is i'm making )

Dale Russell

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Dale kind of brought out what I see as the main problem. iron and glass have different heat expansion coefficients. Different kinds of glass do to for that matter. My wife is getting into blowing glass and doing lampwork. She has to make sure all of her glass is compatible. Mike-hr will occasionally melt a glass bead into the eye sockets of a wizard. So I know that it is possible.

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you can heat and quickly cool marbles with out them shattering:
We used to make these when we were kids( back when the world was still in black and white)

Fried Marble Jewelry

What you need: 1 bag glass marbles (clear - one color only) or cat's eye. No
multiple colors or milky type marbles; 1 skillet; ice water; bell caps;
jeweler's cement; jump ring or jewelry loops.

What to do:

1. Place marbles in cold dry skillet and set on burner at medium to high
heat. Stir marbles constantly as they are being fried. Keep them in pan
until they are completely heated through - about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Pour marbles into a pan of ice water. The sudden change in temperature
will cause the inside of marbles to crackle, while the outside retains its
round shape. The crackle inside will pick up rays of light in bright
sparkles. If marbles were not completely heated through, they will crackle
only a little. Note: You may repeat the process only once to achieve the
desired effect or the marbles may break completely.

3. Cement a bell cap to each marble. Spread prongs of bell cap to conform to
curve of marble.

4. When cement has set, open a jump ring and slip through loop in top of
cap. Bend ends of ring back together again.

The marble is now ready to be slipped onto a necklace chain as a pendant or
you may place several on a charm type bracelet.
Reply With Quote

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Hey all, I took a r/r spike knife and melted two marbles into it, no explosion!
I also took a cross made from square stock, broke the marble into pieces and melted them in the center, it came out nice. Sorry I gave it to my daughter's classmate, so no picture, but I can say it will work. A gas forge will give a cleaner melt though,but coal will also work! good luck. ;)

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I've been thinking about combining glass and steel for quite some time now, but the one main problem you will always face: glass cracks.

Glass is basically like super high carbon steel; if you cool it off too quick it will crack. If you let any glass besides pyrex cool in air, it will crack due to stress. Pyrex is really expensive stuff, especially in colors. If you did art with both glass and metal it would cost a pretty penny, but sure would look nice. Always something to experiment with if you have the equipment!

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I wonder if a feller could melt the glass into the proper spot and then put the piece into a pre-heated heat treating oven (I use a toaster oven from the flea market -$3). The heat would then be lowered gradually to hopefully prevent cracking. I've never tried this, just wondering if it would work.

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If I get a chance I'll look through "Enamelling on Metal" on how they suggest cooling.

When I did an enamelled knife guard I found out that stained glass ground to dust always spalled for me on cooling but the brake lens from a depression era truck, (found in a spoil pile along a river in an old city) when powdered and melted worked fine with the cooling rates I was able to achive.

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