“Where can I find a good book/video/website on casting glass?”
I’m asked that a LOT, so I thought I’d save myself some time answering by cobbling up this post.
This list compiles my most-informative references garnered through my years of casting glass. The first two are specific to glass casting with a strong focus on moldmaking (the most confounding part of the process). They’re mostly arranged in order of usefulness to the practicing glass caster. The third is more generic, for anyone who needs to know how to use flexible mold material.
The included links were valid at the time I initially posted this (6/13/21), but no guarantee they’ll stay that way. Some of the books, especially, are more than 20 years old and liable to be out of print, so you may need to google a different source.
Advance warning: I know some of these books are really expensive or difficult to find and no, I’m not going to violate copyright and send you a copy. If you’re a very good friend, I might be willing to briefly loan one to you in exchange for your firstborn child or something…but don’t count on it.
If you know of additional resources, please please please let me know; I’ll review and add to this list if I think it’ll be helpful. The aim is to make this a definitive list of useful glass casting resources.
Books/articles (and videos) on glass casting
- Mould Making for Glass, Angela Thwaites. THE definitive volume on refractory moldmaking for glass casters, well-illustrated, simply presented, and surprisingly inexpensive. I’ve been told this started as her doctoral thesis (and I have a bootlegged PDF somewhere of it), but this is far more easily digested. If you only have one book on glass casting, buy this one.
- Pate de Verre and Kiln Casting of Glass, Jim Kervin and Dan Fenton. The granddaddy of great casting books, my edition was published ‘way back in 1997. It’s a great basic primer, although back then the lavish illustrations we now expect from instant publishing were a lot harder to do (and more expensive), so it’s probably not as well-diagrammed as more recent volumes. There was at least one edition published after mine, so that might have changed.
- The Art and Technique of Pate de Verre, Tokyo Glass Art Institute. If you can find the English translation of this incredible volume, count yourself lucky. I happened on one when the Corning glass bookstore went out of business, years ago, and they invited me into their attic to glean volumes on casting. I don’t remember what I paid for it, but it sure wasn’t the $291 Amazon is charging today. While it’s focused on pate de verre, it offers some wonderful insights into advanced techniques such as multipart mold-making. And no, my copy will NEVER be for sale.
- Glass Casting and Mold Making (Glass Fusing Book Three), Boyce Lundstrom. This is one of the books that came out of Camp Colton, a glass school set up in the 1990s, and it’s got some great mold-making recipes. Like the Kervin book, it’s a bit short on illustrations thanks to its 1990s origin, but I still go to it for refractory recipes and memory triggers.
- Introduction to Lost Wax Kiln Casting: Multiple Methods for Casting Glass Sculptures (DVD), Milon Townsend. This isn’t a book, but it’s an excellent resource on the lost-wax method for glasswork, and very hard to find. Townsend does some really great videos and books on the art business and studio techniques, and this is no exception.
- Kiln-Formed Glass: Beyond the Basics, Brenda Griffith. This is not strictly a book on casting, but I’m including it here because it DOES have chapters on casting and mold-making. More important, though is what Ms. Griffith does to take you out of the box: The projects and techniques in this book show you how to apply non-glass art techniques to glass, and help you think out of the box on casting projects.
- Glass Technology for the Studio, Frank E. Woolley. Another not-strictly-casting book; I purchased this one during one of my classes at Corning after spending the day in the incredible Rakow Library (if you EVER get a chance to visit Corning, that research library is an orgasmic experience for anyone interested in glass science). You may not be able to actually BUY it anymore, or possibly you just buy it onsite. My copy was published in 1999, and it’s a spiral-bound volume discussing the science behind the stuff that plagues glass artists, particularly casters: Thermal stress, compatibility, annealing issues, devit, etc. It’s taken from a series of lectures on the subject, and attempts to make some pretty esoteric science comprehensible.
- Higuchi Notes: Pate de Verre class. Mary Mullaney (never met the lady, but bless her!) took extensive notes during a Corning master class with Shin-Ichi and Kimiake Higuchi, some of the best pate de verre artists in the world. She published them in a lavishly illustrated PDF, and it’s still one of the nicest step-by-step pate de verre tutorials I’ve seen.
- Tipsheet 8: Basic Lost Wax Kilncasting, Bullseye Glass. From our friends at Bullseye, this one’s been out a few years, and remains one of the nicest, most concise tutorials on the lost wax process for glass that I’ve seen. Too often, casting tutorials are more like ancient cake recipes: “Combine ingredients, and bake.” Tipsheet 8 gives you the whys and wherefores behind the steps, and is well-organized with subheads that help you navigate the process (castings are more a matter of days, not hours, so those subheads help you quickly find your place). When someone tells me they want to get started in glass casting, I tell them to start here.
- Gerry Newcomb System 96 Casting Plate Tutorial. Thanks to Dana Worley (jestersbaubles, if you were ever on warmglass.com) for this one. Gerry Newcomb is a glasscaster who made his own mold mix and started selling it. His tutorial goes step-by-step through the process of creating a clay positive and making a mold out of it. Good illustrations, and very useful if you’ve never done this before.
- Pate de verre process, Anne Frellsen, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). RIT offers an exceptional glass program (and why not? It’s only about a two-hour drive from Corning). This little gem of a PDF is MFA candidate Frellsen’s thesis, a step-by-step investigation of how glass frit can be cast into just about any shape you want. Written back in 1987, it was one of a wave of pate de verre “rediscovery” investigations. I wouldn’t necessarily follow her processes exactly (I mean, she’s processing at 1600F, ‘way too hot in my opinion unless she is casting float), but her process descriptions will teach you a lot. Interestingly enough, Frellsen did NOT become a glass artist; she retired as a well-known art conservator specializing in paper and books.
Online glass casting resources
- Bullseye. Bullseye is basically THE go-to resource for glass artists, beginning and advanced. Even if you’ve been doing glass for so long it’s embarrassing to admit (like me), this company sets the standard for research-based technical information on glassmaking. They have piles and piles of free information on their glasses and studio practices, a good YouTube channel, they offer classes and conferences in their resource centers…and they have The Videos. These are well-made lessons in everything from using kilnwash to casting glass, they’re remarkably cheap ($45/year for an all-you-can-eat subscription), and they have a Facebook forum where you can ask questions about what you just viewed. Whether you use BE glass or not, this site is a must-have resource.
- FusedGlassBooks.com. Paul Tarlow’s ebook collection is growing, and it’s a remarkable conglomeration of kilnforming techniques from his former glass school in Texas and another great former glass school, Judith Conway and Kevin O’Toole’s Vitrum Studio. Most of the books are specific to a single kilnforming technique, and really well-presented, with lots of illustrations and clearly written instruction. There’s not a lot specific to glass casting, but a lot of these books demonstrate techniques that can be used to modify colors/textures/patterns in a casting.
- Corning Master Classes remain some of the best studio technique videos ever produced, and three–Dan Clayman’s walk through his casting processes, and the Higuchi’s videos on pate de verre and thin pate de verre–are both inspirational and informative. Their YouTube collection is well worth subscribing to, and now includes the Master Classes for no charge. If you want the DVDs, head over to their store because they’re now CHEAP (about $3/disc).
- Me. Hate to toot my own horn (well, not really; I’ve an ego bigger than Mt. Vesuvius and just as explosive), but I’ve got several tutorials specific to glass casting that don’t do badly in this company. You’ll find them under glass > casting if you check out the top menu on this website. One of these days I’ll actually organize that page so you can single out specific topics…but not today. These are a few of my favorites, though:
- Pate de verre: The garden panels project: 4-part series on casting a bas-relief panel.
- SHOUT: Two-part series on making a casting that’s too big for my kiln.
- Pate de verre in a hurry: Review of a 4-hour class I taught in casting.
- Alicia Lomne’s pate de verre class: Notes I took during Alicia’s excellent Bullseye workshop (with her permission). I didn’t get around to posting the more in-depth notes until a year later.
- The sculpture that wouldn’t die: If you’re under the illusion that I know glass casting, read this post to dispell them. It’s a 3-part series that might help you with your own problem-solving, because I ran into a LOT of problems.
- Cheap things every caster needs. Glass casting is only slightly less expensive than, say, carving rubies, and this post is about ways to save money with cheap/free stuff.
- Wax bondo and how to use it. Not my invention, but this organic wax is cheap and easy to make, and allows you to repair messed-up castings. A look at recasting.
- Frit volume: Weighing’s best. People always SAY, “powder loses half its volume when fired,” but I wanted to prove it.
- How to Make a Mold for Casting Glass. Kent State Glass has an excellent glass program, and their YouTube collection offers some excellent resources for glassmakers. This video, in particular, goes step by step through making a plaster-silica mold and is especially nice for newbie casters.
- Di Tocker Glass. Tocker is a New Zealand glass artist who doesn’t have a lot of video tutorials (yet), but what she does have are excellent references for little-touched subjects, like recasting, one of my favorite subjects.
- Luminar Glass Products videos. Luminar makes Mold Mix 6, which produces an amazingly thin, strong ceramic shell that can be reused for as many casts as you need. Their YouTube channel offers information on how to use that product (and some of their other products).
- Molds for Glass. If you don’t want to make your own casting molds, but would rather use (or modify) premade molds, the Colour de Verre products are exceptionally high-quality and worth investigating. This YouTube series demonstrates their use and offers tips for making the castings your own.
Silicone mold-making resources
I’m keeping these separate from the online casting resources above, because they’re not STRICTLY glass casting, but rather about making mastermolds to produce waxes for later refractory mold-making and actual glass casting. As such, they’re also incredible resources for cosplayers, maskmakers and special effects artists, confectioners, antique restoration experts…all kinds of folk.
- Brick in the Yard. These guys are my favorite source for just about any mold-making technique, from body casting to part reproduction. They cover the basics of silicone mold-making beautifully, but where they really shine is advanced techniques. They also sell all the stuff in the tutorials, and do a great job of explaining the differences between various flexible mold materials.
- Smooth-On. Smooth-On is the grand-daddy of silicone tutorial websites and probably the best resource out there. The site is a bit disorganized–it can be hard to figure out which tutorial you need and how to then buy the products it discusses–but you can’t argue with the quality of the video tutorials themselves. (To be fair, they’ve gotten a LOT better than 10 years ago)
- TAP Plastics. TAP is a west coast purveyor of just about anything plastic, from acrylic to polyurethane and silicone, and they have an excellent tutorial series. The tutorials are a little disjointed, and can be difficult to find on their website, but if you head over to their YouTube channel, they’re easier to find.
- Polytek. Polytek is a high-end silicone manufacturer popular in industry, where they’re used for prototyping and pattern-making for manufacturing, among other things, and less focused on the art/hobby industries. However, their tutorial videos are really excellent and shouldn’t be missed. They tend to focus more on which type of flexible mold material you need for a specific project and why, which is very useful stuff.
- Make Your Own Molds. They’re focused on selling hobby moldmaking supplies, such as kneadable two-part mold-making materials and supplies for the food industry. The tutorials aren’t bad, especially if you’re interested in making candy and stuff like that. It’s very simple and relatively small stuff and very focused on selling its own products, but if you’re into food or jewelry casting, it’s worth checking out.
As I said, if you can add to this list, please do. The more resources we have