Reduction is a chemical reaction that is the opposite of oxidation (remember learning about redox reactions in high school?) A lot of the newer silver glasses reduce to create absolutely gorgeous colours. I will post my experiences with various glasses here. I have only recently been having reliable success with reducing, so I am by no means the expert, but I have figured out some techniques that seem to work for me.
To reduce glass, you need to alter the chemistry of your flame. I use a minor torch which is surface mix of oxygen and propane. I achieve a reduction flame by turning the oxygen down. Some people prefer to turn the propane up.
Here are some pictures that should help:
My neutral flame
My reducing flame
My basic technique for reduction is as follows:
- make a bead as normal, in a neutral flame
- let the bead cool down until barely glowing (don’t let it cool too far though, because it might shock and break!)
- change your flame to a reducing flame (I like to turn the oxygen down to achieve this)
- reintroduce the bead into the reducing flame, turn it a few times, don’t really heat it up, but watch as the surface changes
- take out of the flame if it gets too hot… repeat a few times if desired
I made these beads last year, so I am having trouble remembering for sure which type of glass I used. I am PRETTY sure that this was iris blue and iris green reduction frit mixed together. This was back when I was using Spectrum 96 COE glass, these frits are both 96 COE but can be used sparingly with 104 COE glass as well. The bead bases were a pale pink and pale green. This reduction happened FAST and spread out past where the frit was to all over the bead! It was pretty neat to watch, and the effect was a wicked metallic sheen.
Psyche is one of Double Helix’s new silver fumed glasses. It’s drool worthy. It’s actually one of DH’s cheaper glasses at the moment, AND it’s the one I’ve had the most success with so far (double points). It can do a variety of things. The photo above used a black base, covered with psyche (I use a cheaper base to stretch out this pricy glass). I used some clear stringer to decorate which isn’t really visible in the above photo, then reduced the whole thing to bring out that metallic sheen.
Left: Psyche encased with light purple. Right: Psyche encased with clear.
The beads above show what psyche looks like when encased in two different transparents. In both cases above, I made a small base bead using psyche, reduced it, drew on it randomly with a pale blue transluscent stringer, reduced it again, and then encased in clear (then pressed into a lentil). When encased, psyche seems to give off some pastelly colours, and cool shades of blue underneath the stringer. It is a purplish glass without the reduction, which is visible a bit in the right hand bead.
Psyche encased (left) and not (right)
This shows the difference between encasing psyche and leaving it unencased. Both these beads were made the same way before encasing. I don’t remember what the base was, but it was covered with a layer of psyche and then reduced. I did some dots with clear stringer, then reduced again. The left hand bead then got encased, the right hand did not.
The beads above used psyche on a pastel green base. The green also reduced some, giving it kind of a brownish look. Depending on the look you are going for, this might be undesirable (lots of glasses reduce to make yucky colours) – in this case though, these are more organic looking beads, and I like the effect. These “Dinosaur Eggs” also have some Creation is Messy celadon frit overtop the psyche, and random clear squiggles… just a whole bunch of stuff going on. But, the metallic sheen from the reduction glass is still visible (moreso in real life).
The above set is psyche over a medium purple (transluscent) base, with clear stringer decoration. Again, I reduce the psyche before adding the clear stringer, do my squiggles, melt them in, and then reduce again. The reduction effects I achieve tend to burn away pretty quickly when I put the bead back in a neutral flame (which makes me suspect my neutral flame may be slightly oxidizing, not sure). I think the safest bet is to make sure to reduce once everything else on the bead is done (assuming you aren’t encasing the reduced glass).