Dichroic – Where Old Meets New

We took dichroic glass back to Venice after we encountered Jerry Sandberg and saw the beauty in this new decoration. Fortunately, Jerry Sandberg had begun working on dichroic for artist in the early 1970s.
He was working at a vacuum-coating laboratory in southern California in the solar cell industry when he saw an artist digging through the trash for broken pieces of dichroic. He was a jeweler as well as engineer and became interested in the creativity. He worked these three scavenger artists to create the first dichroic glass designed for the art industry, Cyan/Red; Magenta/Green and Yellow/Blue.
Today, some forty years later, the equipment CBS (Coatings by Sandberg) uses is as high tech as its companion industry, solar cells for satellites and the photography industry. These machine cost around $2M and apply the metallic films under vacuum. The more colors, the more layers and longer it takes to produce. By the time we arrived on the scene, Sandberg was already familiar with Murano Glass and had begun coating it. Because glass melts and cools as different temperatures, we can only use Murano Glass to make our beads. This is a very strange marriage of high tech equipment and low tech. We just melt glass around mandrels.

Using Class Technique Adding Dichroic

It took us several years, lots of batches of dichroic which we entrusted to only one of our families who produce beads for us. The cost is high for the dichroic and add to that the shipping round trip from Murano to Los Angeles and then back to Murano. Well you can see how these little bits of glitter are expensive. (And of course the Italian Government likes to make their share on the returning glass.)
When we first took the dichroic to Venice, we had no idea how to teach them to work with it. We solicited the help of a well-known insect artist in Venice, only to be told by him that he had no intention of sharing his knowledge with any “Muranese”. He is Venetian so a little of the feud between Venice and Murano. (So much for that, we were on our own.)
So we went to work with one of our beadmakers, an ex-maestro in a major furnace. His knowledge of the glass guided us through the early days, but we had no idea the colors that would work. It was an expensive trial and error period taking us about two years before we got a bead we could sell. But we knew inside these magic color wands we had some beautiful beads, if only we could learn how NOT to burn out the color.
It is one thing to make a few beads each day as many lampwork artist do. It is an entirely different thing to produce in quantities that we require. So some compromise has to be reached which requires us working with the bead makers.
On a recent trip, we once again explored how we could make the best use of the dichroic. When our newest line, Carnevale Glitz were still in the fire, we knew they would be a hit. Adding dichroic to our Gold Foil really made the dichroic pop. We could hardly wait for them to cool and taken off the mandrels. The colors really jump our against the exterior gold. So enjoy a bit of old Venetian Bead Making and thanks to Jerry Sandberg, some added amazing colors.
More Information in case you want to learn more:
– The Flow Magazine 2010 – History of Dichroic by Howard Sandberg
– Coating by Sandberg website: http://cbs-dichroic.com/faq.asp#whatisdichroic

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