Sam Broner

Sam Broner

Software in Seattle & NYC

Shattered Glass

Personal, Physical

There’s a small art gallery nestled between an alright Thai place and a yuppy cupcake shop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The pieces are amazing shattered glass, perfectly reconfigured. I figured I should try it.

Here’s my first attempt alongside Cassandria Blackmore’s excellent work.

Guess which is which?

After a few attempts, I engineered something a bit more respectable. I’ll keep iterating on this, but I don’t think I’ll quite replicate Cassandria. I’ll just have my own “inspired” style.

Attempt #1

Maybe it'll work?

I went to the local Blick and bought some reasonable seeming supplies.

  • .5” Foam Board
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Acrylic Medium (glueish stuff?)
  • Picture frame glass

I figured I could paint the glass, then use the Acryclic Medium to glue the glass to the board. A quick shatter, and I’d be done.

Each step of this was harder than expected.

Because the unpainted glass faces the viewer, the first layer of paint is the most obvious. I had some ugly early attempts.

Acrylic Medium is a bad glue for this job. The shattered glass is basically pulling itself off the Foam Board.

Most importantly, picture glass is not what Cassandria uses! It shatters into shards, not the glittering fragments pictured above.

Attempt #2

Figure out the glass

What glass shatters into a million pieces? Car glass! That is... tempered glass. Tempered glass is regular glass that is heat treated to give it opposing compression and tension. To simplify, a piece of tempered glass is strong while intact, but, once broken, the opposing forces rip the glass apart.

So I went on Craiglist and found some old tempered glass shelves to destroy!

This worked much better. The tempered glass creates the pattern we’re looking for.

I used the leftover paint and some left over cardboard and substituted our new glass. Everything worked, but shattering tempered glass is hard (and dangerous.) I had to really hammer the corner for this to work.

Pictured: An idiot (me) wearing non-protecting sunglasses and sound canceling headphones.

At this point, issues with the cardboard became obvious. My tempered glass was pretty heavy and without the rigidity of the glass or foamboard, the pieces flopped apart.

At this point though, I thought I should focus on the paint.

Attempt #3

Focus on the paint

I watched like 30 videos on how to blend paint. They all intend for the blended paint to be seen from the painted side of the piece (we need the other side to look blended.) It turns out this wasn’t much harder, but I had to use a sponge to scrub the paint off the glass repeated in order to get a consistent blend.

It still didn’t quite work, but closer.

I also added safety glasses, earplugs, gloves, shoes (not pictured), and wrapped the glass in trash bags.

You can hear the tempered glass continue to pull itself apart!

At this point, the foam board became a problem. It’s too thick to fit into a normal frame and it’s still not rigid enough. Also, my hacked Acrylic Medium & Glue still didn’t really hold up. You can see the edges crumbling away.

You can hear the tempered glass continue to pull itself apart!

Attempt #Next

Tie it all together

I’ll be trying this again in the coming weeks. I believe I’ll need these supplies.

  • Tempered Glass
  • Stiff Sheet Metal (Backing Board)
  • Good Epoxy Glue
  • A Drill
  • Safety Equipment
  • More space

With a drill, I can break the glass more accurately and without throwing out my shoulder. Hopefully the metal sheet will be stiff enough and thin enough to put the combined piece in a frame. I’m also hoping the epoxy will bind better. In all my prior attempts there were still fragments falling off.

We’ll see!


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