How to Make Recycled Glass Countertops

Written by gail cohen
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It’s keen to be green, and nothing shows one’s commitment to the environment more than using recycled goods to craft utilitarian room and decorative additions. Re-crafting pre-used glass has gone from small studios to large building contractors, and these days room refurbs can include everything from sinks to counters made of recycled glass. If your talents lie in a variety of do-it-yourself adventures and you would like to try your hand at this environmentally friendly craft, learn a few general instructions to get started.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Countertop mould or template
  • Prepackaged mould-making composite (optional)
  • Industrial glass or premade frit
  • Appliance to crush glass
  • Industrial-sized kiln
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Rubber gloves

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select a prefabricated counter template or form--or make your own clay or stainless steel mould by using prepackaged mould-making compound. You may wish to use your existing counter top as a template. The mould must withstand kiln temperatures. Explore the link to Slumpy's.com in "Additional Resources," below, to find moulding materials if you choose to start from scratch.

  2. 2

    Measure the area you wish to cover to determine how much frit you will need to cover the countertop area. Don protective eyewear and gloves to begin preparing the frit if you plan to grind down the raw materials yourself. You will be working with fine slivers of glass, so you may also want to wear a dust mask.

  3. 3

    Grind the glass down to fine particles. Artisans recommend the following methods of glass reduction: 1) Heat the glass in a kiln before plunging it into water so it shatters naturally; 2) break glass up and feed pieces into a coffee grinder; 3) wrap the glass in cloth and smash it with a hammer; or 4) run glass through an old trash-disposal unit or food processor. All methods are hazardous and the appliances you enlist to handle the project will probably need to be retired after you crush the glass. As an alternative, you may wish to purchase ready-made frit from a crafting supplier.

  4. 4

    Place the glass into the kiln set to a temperature that reads between 704 to 926 degrees C maximum. Verify this temperature range by consulting the kiln’s instruction manual. As the frit melts, the shards will begin to bond, creating a molten, solid mass.

  5. 5

    Remove the material from the kiln at least once during the process to press out air bubbles that may form as the glass is heated. You may not be able to avoid every air bubble in the finished product, but a “bubble squeeze” will minimise them. Do not remove the glass compound from the kiln until it has sufficiently cooled.

  6. 6

    Slump the hot glass. Do this by laying the soft mixture into the mould or template, and then gently tamp the material down so the glass assumes the shape of the counter. While the material is still warm you can add custom embellishments, like coloured glass pieces, metallic touches or other materials to create a one-of-a-kind counter top.

  7. 7

    While the glass is still malleable, use a file or other tool to smooth raw edges that may have formed. The finished glass counter, once cooled and ready for installation, will be from five to seven times stronger than normal glass that has not been subjected to this intense heating process.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt this project if you have not previously worked with molten glass and/or have no access to an industrial-sized kiln.

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