The Klaus Moje Connection: How Bullseye Came to Develop Compatible Glass
Left: Coldworking at Bullseye. Right: Untitled 5 – 2010, 2010.
In 1979, the German-born artist Klaus Moje was teaching a workshop at the now-famous Pilchuck Glass School, just outside of Seattle. Among his students was Boyce Lundstrom, one of the founding partners of Bullseye Glass Company—which at the time was primarily making glasses for the stained glass industry. Lundstrom invited Moje to Portland to see the Bullseye factory and to meet his partner, Dan Schwoerer.
Moje had been making works using kilnformed glass methods since the mid 1970s, using German glasses that had originally been developed for the button industry. They were never intended to be reheated and melted together. As a result, they had many different problems, ranging from surface defects to incompatibility. In the case of incompatibility, the glasses could be melted together, but they would break apart upon returning to room temperature because they did not "fit." This was the fate of many of the early works that Moje attempted.
The Bullseye team had already done some work toward developing compatible glass, but they fully committed to the project only after meeting Moje and seeing his promising work. Inspired by the artist's methods and recognizing the limitations of the materials he was using, the Bullseye team promised Moje they would deliver him compatible glasses that would solve his problems. Moje was nonplussed. The great factories of Europe had been working on these problems for hundreds of years to no avail. But two years later, in 1981, a crate of Bullseye Tested Compatible glass, the world's first glasses specially formulated for working in a kiln, unexpectedly arrived at Moje's studio in Hamburg.
Bullseye was able to develop these glasses through careful formulation and documentation, and the development of a simple test that is now the industry standard for determining compatibility. The key to Bullseye's success was in recognizing that compatibility could be achieved by adjusting both the expansion and the viscosity of glasses. In other words, while other companies had focused on trying to match the expansions of different glasses, the pioneers at Bullseye recognized that glasses with exactly the same expansion (linear coefficient of thermal expansion) would not necessarily fit one another, and that only by developing glasses with compensating differences between expansion and viscosity could glasses be made to fit one another.