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Aluminum as an Inclusion

 

This is part of a series on inclusions in glass.  To start at the beginning, click here.

Although copper is the most common metal inclusion, it's far from the only one.  Silver and gold are often used, especially in jewelry applications.  Brass, another common metal, is also frequently used in glass, as are other common alloys such as nichrome.  But aluminum, perhaps the most common and inexpensive metal of all, is rarely used as a glass inclusion.

Most likely, this is because aluminum melts at 1218F/659C, a temperature well below most fusing applications.  The low melting point makes aluminum unsuitable for use as a slumping mold, but don't let that fool you.  It's still a very versatile and fascinating metal to use as an inclusion in glass. 

One of the best things about using aluminum as an inclusion is that it's very inexpensive.  Cut up soft drink cans work well, and are virtually free.  Household aluminum foil can also be used, and the cost is only pennies a firing.

In addition to being inexpensive, aluminum is easy to use.  It does not react with the ingredients in some glass colors, as silver sometimes will.  And it's behavior is consistent and predictable.

The easiest way to try out aluminum as an inclusion is to cut a small piece from a soft drink can.  Although tin snips work best, this can even be done with common household scissors.  Just be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges of the can.

Sandwiched between two layers of clear glass and fired to a full fusing temperature, a thin sheet of aluminum takes on a fascinating appearance.  It becomes a mass of dark brown bubbles, with lighter highlights scattered throughout the piece.  The effect is unlike that of any other metal, and is interesting enough to make aluminum an inclusion well worth exploring.

Click here for more tips on using aluminum as an inclusion.

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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