Why did you choose a "96" C.O.E.?
The Spectrum line of stained glass products was formulated to the nominal "96" expansion long before we elected to manufacture a Tested Compatible line for kilnforming and other Hot-Glass work. We chose the "96" Expansion because it facilitates the creation of glasses with "friendly" forming characteristics. The wide variety of glass types we manufacture demands a formulation that has great flexibility.
Because many other glassmakers, as well as suppliers of blowing batch, frit, color bars, etc., chose "96" for similar reasons, we decided to build upon this "family" rather than reformulate our products to the C.O.E. "90" range.
What's the difference in kilnforming at "90" and "96"?
Really very little. What you learn with one glass will largely apply to the other. System 96 is a lower temperature glass -- that is, it takes less time / heat for S96 products to reach a given viscosity than it does common COE 90 products. Understanding this, and looking over the S96 Firing / Annealing Guidelines, a kiln crafter will quickly adapt to the differences.
What do you mean by "working range"?
To blowers and other manipulators of hot glass, this means more time in that "sweet spot" of temperatures where the artist can affect the glass. A "longer" glass offers more tolerance and freedom for creativity. Glass fusers will discover a wider range of temperatures between "not-yet-fused" and "beyond-full-fused," thus greater freedom in forming and a wider margin of error. Glasses with a shorter working range "set up" or "freeze" faster than "longer" glasses.
What about devitrification?
All System 96 products have been specially formulated to resist devitrification. That, plus compatibility testing, is what makes them different from other Spectrum glass products.
What about Iridescent Glass?
System 96 Iridescents are manufactured and sold by Uroboros Glass Studios. There is a broad range of iridescent textures to choose from, and all withstand full fusing temperatures. They are stocked by all System 96 distributors.
What does Uroboros have to do with Spectrum?
Uroboros is one of our System 96 Compatibility Partners. They make System 96 Tested Compatible specialty colors and textures, Iridescent glass, Frits, Stringer, Noodle and who-knows-what else.
How about Thin glass?
At this writing, Spectrum supplies an "Ultra Smooth Thin" in both Clear ( #X1002M) and Black (#10092M). Uroboros supplies 1.6mm hand-rolled thins in both clear and black (#61-00-96 and #61-56-96, respectively). Additional thins may be added at a later date.
Should I Still Test?
Testing is a good idea, and we will continue to recommend it, even for "Tested Compatible" products. Testing is your best teacher. You'll discover subtle nuances in different glasses, monitor color shifts, and be better able to predict various characteristics that may result from the fusing process. Plus, because our equipment and procedures differ from yours, you just might uncover a set of circumstances in which our "Tested Compatible" glasses don't act as expected in your system of variables. Better to discover that in testing than in a disappointing project.
With Spectrum System 96 glass, all glass of the same stock number from the same production day will be dependably identical. There is no meaningful variation in C.O.E. or other characteristics within a production day.
System 96 products are supposed to be cheaper but it doesn't look that way to me . . . what gives?
Most "90" C.O.E. products are priced and sold by the pound. System 96 sheet glass is sold by the square foot. Glass priced at $10.00 per pound is actually about $17.00 per sq.ft (1 sq.ft . weighs about 1.7 pounds). Make sure to convert pounds to sq.ft (or vice versa) to make a fair comparison.
To convert $ per pound to $ per sq.ft : multiply by 1.6
To convert $ per sq.ft . to $ per pound: divide by 1.6
Why is a System 96 glass more expensive than the same identical color of regular Spectrum glass?
There are a number of reasons: (1) the agents in the System 96 formula that resist devitrification are considerably more expensive than their counterparts in "regular" Spectrum glass. (2) System 96 products are made in much shorter runs than "regular" Spectrum glass, thus, they are significantly more costly on a per Sq.Ft. basis, (3) the costs of testing, classifying, labeling, etc., and, especially, (4) suffering the costs of making non-compatible glass when only compatible glass will do. It adds up fast. Fore more in-depth information, read our Tech Bulletin #2 "This is Not Your Father's Spectrum Glass," by Gil Reynolds.
How do artists use your "Ultra-Smooth Thin Clear"?
The Thin Clear is a very versatile product. A single layer of design elements "held together" with thin clear creates a finished piece that is lighter and more delicate. Used as a "cap" it adds richness and depth, like a blown glass object being "cased" in clear glass. It is also a useful tool in volume control, helping the artist to equalize glass volume on each layer without making design compromises.
Can Spectrum Glass be used for dinnerware?
Spectrum products have been tested for chemical leaching as required by the FDA for food bearing surfaces. All of our products passed and were determined to be suitable.
However, when you use Spectrum glass to produce a product of your own (slump it, fuse it, foil it, lead it, etc.), it’s not Spectrum glass anymore. It’s your product now, and as such, must pass all tests before being sold or used as a food bearing surface. It is possible that the processes you use to make your product alter the composition of the raw materials (the glass) in such a way that they may no longer meet the required standards. Either way, the regulations are clear: You must have your own finished products tested and approved.
For more information about health and safety issues for food bearing surfaces you should contact The Society of Glass Ceramic Decorators, 888 17th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC (202) 728-4132.
How can I get "fire polished" edges?
Spectrum glass needs to be fired at 1470º for about 10 minutes to fire polish edges.
Can Spectrum be ground into frit & fused on the surface of my project?
Sure. But why not go easy on yourself (and your equipment) and just buy the excellent crushed glass frits supplied by Uroboros Glass Studios? Every System 96 color is available, including Iridescents, in 5 particle sizes, in both 8.5 oz (.24kg) and 4 Lb (2 kg) jars.
Can I fuse with "regular" Spectrum Iridescent Glass?
The "Mother of Pearl" coating on non-System 96 Spectrum Glass will withstand temperatures up to about 1300ºF. While you can produce some very interesting bent and slumped pieces that will retain the iridescent finish, it will burn off of most pieces at full-fuse temperatures. You can maximize your iridescent effects at higher temperatures by fusing with the iridescent surface against the kiln shelf, and by minimizing time spent above 1400º F.
System 96 Iridescent glass, made by Uroboros, will not burn off, even at full-fuse temperatures.
Can I use Spectrum Glass for "Casting"?
There are two methods of casting: hot casting and cullet casting. In hot casting, the glass is heated in a crucible to approximately 2300º F then poured into a mold. In cullet casting, broken glass is placed into the mold first and then fired to about 1600º F or until the desired result is reached. Spectrum System 96 glass can be used for either type of casting. Uroboros Glass has recently added System 96 "Tested Compatible" Casting Billets in Clear and 8 colors. More Info.
What about using Spectrum Glass for bead making and torch work?
Spectrum is a great choice for bench work. Its long working range allows greater artistic flexibility and greater margin or error. Multicolor mixes allow artists to lay two or more colors simultaneously. You can lay more glass faster than with traditional rods and you can incorporate the complete line of compatible Frits, Stringer, noodle and Dichroic glasses.
I've been fusing with Spectrum for years with few problems; why should I pay the premium for "Tested Compatible" System 96?
If you're doing your own testing and require no protection from devitrification, by all means fuse with "regular" Spectrum glass. But be aware that both stress and devitrification, even if not immediately apparent in your finished projects, can cause cracking or surface crystallization over passage of time. So please, when fusing with non-labeled Spectrum products, test habitually and take careful measures to control devitrification.