Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fusing Experiment with Aluminum Cans

Anchorage is not known for it's recycling policies. Sad to say but recycling in Anchorage is far behind the times. When visiting my sister & her family in Minneapolis this past summer we were shocked at all the items they recycle. They don't only recycle, they clean the items & sort them, AND if they don't they get fined by the city!

In my small way, I try to recycle as many items as I can. I re-use all our newspapers, cardboard & boxes for packing up my wholesale orders. I save all the product boxes (popcorn, milk, etc.) from Costco, cut them apart & turn them inside out & re-tape so I can use the heavy weight boxes for shipping containers.

Unfortunately, I'm also a soda drinker ~ something I'm trying to cut back on. It's better than smoking right?? In the mean time I've been experimenting with cutting up the aluminum & thinking about how to use it in art projects. I was wondering if the paint on the can would fire off or remain? And if the aluminum would retain it's shape at various temperatures.

Because I frequently fire glass at a full fuse I decided to throw in a layered piece of aluminum can with Bullseye Tetka with a kiln load of other pieces. Here's the pre & post fire set-up with the "diet ke" can.

Hummmm..... interesting effect. It sort of looks like reptile skin. The picture doesn't really do it justice because the color is greenish~gray~dragon-like. I could see using it as a component part in a larger sculpture. what happens at a lower temperature, I wonder? Let's try a tack fuse at about 1385 for 15 minutes. I was hoping the paint or some of the color would remain at the lower temperature. Here's small piece of aluminum layered between two pieces of Bullseye Tetka pre & post-firing.

Kind of interesting. I guess I need to experiment with more temperatures. In the meantime, here's some facts about Aluminum that I should have looked up before I started ~ would have explained a few things ~ but hey, what's the fun in knowing what the out-come is before you experiment???
1. Melting point of Aluminum = 1220 F & 660 C (That explains a lot!! I knew it was soft, but not that soft! )
2. Aluminum (AL) is the most abundant metallic element on the planet & makes up 8 % of the earths crust.
3. Because of its resistance to corrosion, light weight, & low cost, AL is used in architecture, housewares, & packaging....and now GLASS!

I think I'll try another fusing at or below it's melting point & see what happens. Are you curious? I AM! Stay tuned for an update.

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