I originally trained in Fine Art. I have been a "maker" all my life and somewhere along the way glass became the dominent medium to work in. I now work part-time at "Art with Glass", a stained glass workshop in Crystal Palace, South London, and part-time in my garden studio making fused glass jewellery and decorative items that I sell at craft events.
Glass is a unique material to work with. It is an amorphous material. Its molecules are not arranged in a regular, specific pattern, like those of a crystalline material, but are random in their configuration. It is like a cross between a solid and a liquid. For this reason, glass at room temperature is sometimes referred to as a "supercooled liquid".
Because of its amorphous molecular configuration, glass reacts to heat differently than do other materials. Whereas metals change from a solid to a liquid at a specific termperature (a melting point), glass goes through a very gradual transformation - from a material that behaves like a solid to a material that behaves like a liquid. It is this unique configuration of glass that allows it to be used in different ways in kiln-forming - at lower temperatures it can be bent or slumped, at higher temperatures glass will stick together - called tack fusing - and then still higher it can be fully fused and cast.
Dichroic glass was first developed in the 50's and 60's for the space industry. It is produced now by just a handful of manufacturers. It is a high-tech material that is created by vaporising quartz crystal and metal oxides in a vacuum chamber and allowing the molecules to be deposited onto the surface of a blank sheet of usually clear or black glass. Computerised control of time and temperature determine the thickness of the layers deposited on the glass. There may be up to 30 individual layers. With so many variables, dichroic glass presents an incredibly rich and varied palette of colours and patterns to work with.
The main characteristic of dichroic glass is that it has a transmitted colour and a completely different reflective colour. Furthermore, these two colour shift depending on the angle of view.