How to Use Ultrabind in creating 3D Glass Designs in Pate de Verre and Freeze and Fuse™ Projects
By: Ann Sanborn
What is PATE DE VERRE?
Pate de Verre (not Patte de Verre) is the making of a glass paste that is normally applied to the surface of the mold, then fired.
What are the Advantages for using the Pate de Verre Technique?
The biggest advantage is that it allows for more precise control over the glass: where it is placed, particular glass colors, textures and creation of 3D designs on the glass.
Pate de Verre involves the use of binders to form the glass and avoid shifting of the glass from where it was placed prior to firing. Although the technique dates back to the ancient Egyptians, it was revived by a group of French artists and hence its current name.
You can mix crushed glass (powdered glass is most widely used), enamels and binders to create a paste before forming it in a mold and firing the glass design.
Safety Tip: Always wear a mask or respirator while handling powdered glass or mixing the paste to prevent inhaling small glass particles.
Organic Binder: Ultrabind is a non-toxic blend of water-soluble vegetable gums, an ultra-thick organic binder, and should be mixed only with distilled water to desired consistency.
Shelf Life: Approximately 5 years when kept tightly closed and dry.
Ultrabind can be used in several ways to produce interesting designs and Pate de Verde pieces. Depending on how much Ultrabind and water is added, you can shape the glass power into a paste with your fingers, form it in a mold or use it in a pastry tube or syringe to create intricate details on the surface of a warm kiln shelf or on the surface of a mold.
Most common application - in molds:
To create 1/2 Cup Gel Binder = Mix 1 teaspoon of Ultrabind with ¼ cup of hot distilled water, stirring to disperse the crystals (the crystals will not dissolve immediately). While stirring, add 1/4 cup of distilled ice water.
To Create 1/4 Cup Gel Binder = Mix 1/2 teaspoon of Ultrabind with 1/8 cup of hot distilled water, stirring to disperse the crystals (the crystals will not dissolve immediately). While stirring, add 1/8 cup of distilled ice water.
Continue to stir until you have a syrupy mix. The crystals will dissolve while sitting, within an hour or so.
1 ounce of Ultrabind will make 2 ½ cups of gel.
1 teaspoon = 5 ml and 1/2 teaspoon = 2 ml
1/4 cup = 2 oz = 59.15 ml and 1/8 cup = 1 oz = 29.57 ml.
Unused gel can be tightly covered and kept in the refrigerator for several months.
Using Ultrabind for sculpting or in a pastry tube or syringe:For a gel that you can use in syringes or pastry tubes, use a 5% solution, by weight. There is some variation between batches of powder, so the proper proportion by volume will be between 1 and 2 teaspoons per 1/4 cup of distilled water. Mix glass powder with small portions of the glass powder previously mixed gel on a flat piece of glass with a palette knife until it is firm like cake icing and will hold a peak. Fill your syringe or pastry tube which can be used to draw designs, or apply with the palette knife to create sculptural designs. You can also pipe your designs onto your prepared kiln shelf. Because Ultrabind paste is very sticky you can even apply/shape it with your fingers.
Allow gel to dry for at least an hour before packing your mold with more glass.
Tip: If you pipe it onto a warm kiln shelf, most of the precise details will be preserved. Let designs dry completely before firing to 1050 degrees F and waiting until the Ultrabind has completely burned off.
Filling one of our Freeze and Fuse Molds: Dry glass powder will not stick to the mold and must be mixed with the Ultrabind gel as described above. Once you have mixed the Ultrabind and water in the syrupy stage, mix it with some of your glass powder until you get a paste that will hold its shape. If you want to layer colors or have a mold with lots of detail, then use a painter's palette knife and apply some of the mixture to the inside of the mold to fill any small detailed areas. (This is great if you want specific colors in specific areas). Allow gel to dry for at least an hour before packing your mold with more glass gel mixture of desired color.
Pat down the glass gel mixture until packed. Then drag the palette knife over it to level it off.
Note: You can use Glastac or any other clean burning adhesive over the surface to get a smoother appearance.
Put in freezer until frozen for easy release and handling.
Note: All Freeze and Fuse or Pate de Verre projects will shrink approximately 15% in size after the Ultrabind burns off and the glass compresses.
Tip: As a general rule, you can determine how much powdered glass you will need by filling one of the mold sections with some water and dump the water into a measuring cup. As a rule of thumb, 1 1/2 times the amount of water will be how much glass powder is needed.
Mixtures of glass are always described by weight. When working with small portions like our Freeze ‘n’ Fuse™ molds, weighing your glass can be difficult with such small amounts. For each mold we will notate on the detail description page how much glass powder is needed for each section. If you want to weigh it, invest in a more sensitive scale that is accurate to a tenth of a gram, such as the electronic pocket scales (They run from $25 to $100 dollars and can weigh several hundred grams at a time). Another option for small amounts like this is to use a shot glass and use tape and a permanent marker to notate the amounts per mold section.
Burn off: For Pate de Verre, hold your kiln temperature 1050 degrees F until the binder burns off (looks black during burn off), on average approximately 20 minutes. When combining Ultrabind, Pate de Verre techniques or as a Freeze and Fuse™ project, you will need to fire the kiln to 1300 degrees F for 20 minutes. It is important to fire in a well-ventilated area as Ultrabind emits smoke as it is burning away. It will first produce a black carbon and will color pieces black until it has completely burned away.
Note: It is important to allow the glass to anneal slowly as this is critical to ensure the glass will be durable