Annealing Research Down Under

Annealing Research Down Under

Matthew Perez MFA 10 GL is among seven recent RISD alumni to win Fulbright grants for study abroad during the 2010–11 academic year. A recent graduate of master’s program in Glass, he’s now pursuing a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

During his year abroad, Perez is working with Richard Whiteley, head of the Glass Workshop at ANU’s School of Art. There he’s researching shape-induced stress factors in annealing cast glass – that is, learning to cool it at the precise rate to avoid internal pressures that lead to cracking or shattering. An internationally renowned glass artist and expert in cast glass, Whitely is advising Perez as he experiments with the annealing process in order to calculate optimal rates of cooling and potential stress points.

“Annealing is one of the most elusive and difficult steps in the cast glass process,” Perez points out. “After many hours in a molten state the material is relieved of its internal stress and slowly brought to room temperature. Most artists, including me, don’t make simple compact forms, but create complex objects that generate shape-induced stress. So, the primary focus of my research will be to better understand how to anneal objects successfully despite these added stresses.” Ultimately, Perez hopes to create a new body of work during his nine months at ANU – and to share his newfound knowledge with other artists interested in increasing the success rate for producing cast glass sculpture.

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