Interior Designers & Architects
Most often I work with interior designers and architects to manufacture custom commission projects. A metal artist, UL-lighting designer, cabinetmaker, plumber and builder are frequently part of the team to accomplish the project. I'd like to outline for you a typical process flow for designing, manufacturing and installing a custom architectural glass project: I'll use the project "Purple Maze" to illustrate the process.
Meet with the Interior Designer or Architect and client to begin the design phase. During this phase, the designer and client outline their goals for the glass project, including design concept, specifications for the item(s), installation issues, and budget considerations. To create these custom glass pieces, designers and clients have hundreds of colors and textures of both compatible opalescent and translucent glass from which to select. I work closely with the designer to put 'form' to their inspiration. Through the design phase, samples can be produced for designer/architect/client review and approval.
Two concurrent activites proceed at this stage:
1) Pull together other
individuals who skills will be involved in the project. For example, a metal
artist would be involved in the design and manufacture of a pedestal to
support a vessel sink or to manufacture custom stand-offs for a raised
2) Provide a quotation for the designer and client outlining the exact elements being produced with timeframes and costs. I receive a CAD drawing from the cabinet-maker with sizes for the cast slab that will fit within the cabinet. Finished size will be approximately 78" x 27" deep with an under-mount sink on the right side 18" in to center point. I make every slab 2" larger in width and length so once the cabinet is installed, a template will be made. The template is used to water jet cut the slab to precise measurements. No wall or cabinet is ever 'true', hence the template; plus cold-working to polish the edges of the slab is easier with a water jet cut edge.
This countertop has transparent purple, amber, cranberry, and lime 90 COE compatible glass, as well as gold dichroic glass cut into strips and cast with clear glass.
It is fired upside down to create a bubble-less top once flipped over. After the first firing the slab, I sandblast the bottom surface, flip it over so that the sandblasted surface is now on top. The slab is kiln fired again for a fire polished bubble-less surface.
Once the slab is fired, I sketch the placement of each glass piece for the under-counter sink. This allows me to create the sink with a continuation of the design flow.
At this point, the slab and sink are ready to transfer to other team members to proceed with their work. Once the cabinet is installed and the template is made, these dimensions are entered into the water jet computer. The slab is trimmed to this exact template, and the hole for the under-counter sink is made. This is the scariest part for me! I have had a couple pieces break while waterjet cutting, so I pretty much hold my breath during that process.
The cold-working team is the final step in the manufacturing of the glass.
Polishing the radius edge on the slab as well as flattening the top edge of the sink for mounting. Portland has a wonderful community of resources to support the glass artisans; so edgework is one area I choose not to tackle. I have a large drill press and diamond drill bits for making the holes in my sinks. The counter sink drill bit I had custom made to achieve the countersink angle quickly and accurately.
For the pendant chandelier to hang above the wet bar, I worked with the UL-lighting designer and interior designer to select a solid bronze cast ring to support the glass. We selected an existing mold design to show the client since carving bronze molds was beyond the lighting budget. The bronze ring would support the 'drop-ring' pendant I was to make. After firing the large disk of three 1/8th inch layers of white, amber and clear/black stringer glass, I cut a drop ring mold of thick fiber board to fit the bronze ring. I laid the disk on the donut ring fiberboard and let it slump through the hole for the 6" drop we wanted for the finished pendant.
I am a materials supplier, so I am on location for most of the installations to answer questions; the contractor is in charge of installation. Working closely with the plumbers, electricians and finish carpenters is key to a smooth installation and a satisfied client."