Soft Silica is a new expression for glass that lies on the boundary between textile and glasswork. Sarah Roseman began this research by thinking about the boundaries of glass and started experimenting with knitting glass fibres. Manipulating glass in its textile state, this knitted glass material can be fused into intricate structures when fired.
This material offers many advantages when compared to working with traditional glass sheets. Its flexible soft state allows it to be molded into complex shapes with a lot of detail when compared to slumping traditional glass sheets. One direction of the research is integrating copper wire inside of the glass to allow electricity to flow through the material to power a light source. Since copper wiring can be integrated when the material is still flexible, it is possible to accurately run wires through the final fused glass object. The resulting material shows the movement of the melting of glass and carries surprising tactility that shows textile in a new way. This glass work technique is a dialogue between the textile and the kiln, as both parts of the process can be adjusted in order to achieve different results.
This project is a continuation of almost a year’s worth of glass research, delving into many possible applications of the material and consists of an ever growing archive of samples. Currently, soft silica is expressed in glass tapestries and sculptural vessels, but continues to evolve as the material is developed further.
Photos: Barry Llewellyn, Sarah Roseman