You see huge stone pillars on each side, a mix of old mosaic and wooden flooring, the typical paintings of religious scenes and stained glass windows. This traditional surrounding was the inspiration for the project to turn those fragments of glass into tiles for our bar fronts.
We collected all the pint glasses that were broken at our beer garden site in Elephant & castle over the entire summer of 2019 to melt and form these into tiles for the Mayfair alter bar.
Before the opening of our Mayfair venue, the GK boys went to Bath and got a proper introduction to how to melt, form and colour glass. Thanks to KT from Minimelt glass for overcoming her doubts about the feasibility of our plans and being a great support!
Done with the training and back in London, an oven was rented, all materials were organised in their workshop and the project for the summer was sorted. Over 1,000 square tiles were needed for both bars and for each tile you needed about 1.5 pint glasses. Quite a bit of beer had to be drunk to break enough glasses for the task! With the gained knowledge and shattered glass in the pots, it was time to start.
The first step is heating the oven to reach the required 1,200 degrees which takes around two hours.
Then a shovel filled with glass fragments is held in the oven to melt it all. To achieve this vibrant amber tone, pigmented glass splinters had to be added to the melted glass shortly before removing it from the heat source.
Our friend next door, an electric car mechanic built a metal mould that could resist the high temperatures in the shape of the bricks. The boys then slowly and evenly poured the liquid into the moulds. This had to be done by two people, one held the rod with melted glass pouring it into the mould, and the other cut the glass flow. If the mixture wasn’t liquid enough, it could not be pulled into shape. With a torch the tile is finished off to get the corners settled, the brick still needs to be at 600 degrees Celsius.
For the cooling down period, the bricks go into a pottery kiln and stay there for the first four hours at 530 degrees. After that, the temperature falls 10 degrees every hour, and after about 48 hours the glass bricks are cooled enough to be taken out.
It took over 4 months to finish all pieces by hand. But from now on you can admire the embellishments on the bars.
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