Community Arts & Culture

Eddies of Light

Who is the artist?

The Eddies of Light installation was created by Philadelphia-based glass artist Ray King.

What is Eddies of Light made of?

Dichroic glass is a glass made out of many micro-layers of metals or metal oxides, like gold, silver, titanium, aluminum, and zirconium.  These give the glass its optical properties, and are what cause different wavelengths of light to reflect or pass through.  The micro-layers also cause an array of colors to be displayed. Since the evaporated materials are transparent, the light is not absorbed as with pigments and paints, creating uniquely crisp and vibrant colors.  Light transmitted through the dichroic surface will appear one color and light reflected from it will appear as a complementary color.  The colors shift depending on the angle of the view. Try it!

How is it made?

Multiple ultra-thin layers of different metals (like gold, silver, zirconium, etc.) are vaporised by an electron beam in a vacuum chambor.  The vapor from the metals then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure.  The finished dichroic glass can have up to 50 layers of these materials, and the thickness of the coating can be as little as 30 or 35 millionths of an inch.  Individual results can never be predicted, so each piece of dichroic glass is unique and produces a unique effect.

When was Dichroic glass discovered?

First discovered in the 4th century A.D. by the Romans, modern dichroic glass techniques were developed through NASA materials research.  Dichroic glass is now used in LCD projectors and 3D movies.  It is also, of course, used by many artists.

Installation Photographs:

Eddies of Light installation

A base layer of Terrazzo is applied.

Eddies of Light installation

Terrazzo is a mixture of granite, quartz and recycled mirror glass.  Here it is added to different colors of a liquid epoxy binder and poured into the metal-edged shapes designed by the artist.

Eddies of Light installation

Grout is then spread evenly over the surface and washed away.

Eddies of Light installation

Once the base layer is finished, workmen use a diamond drill bit to drill over two thousand holes into the terrazzo floor.

Eddies of Light installation

The pieces of dichroic glass will be inserted into these holes.

Eddies of Light installation

A special plastic-based adhesive is added to the holes and the dichroic glass rods are inserted.

Eddies of Light installation

The entire floor is then covered with grout, and washed away again.

Eddies of Light installation

The floor is inspected by artist Ray King.

Eddies of Light installation

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