Canyon De Chelly was in the original line up of colours launched by Creation is Messy in 2006 and is still in primary production today. My batch of Canyon De Chelly dates from 2006. The rods for this glass are a smooth greyish-green to brownish green depending on the batch and the light (natural light seems to bring out more of the brown tones). Each batch varies a little, with some interesting concentric circles of different colours through the middle. The most interesting thing about this glass is the array of bruised pastel colours that will show up if you work the glass just right. Canyon De Chelly is named after the mystic canyons in the USA where the Navajo resided for thousands of years. Just like these great canyons, the glass is as changeable as the rocks that soar up hundreds of feet into the sky.
You can trick a variety of colours out with careful heating and cooling and Canyon De Chelly will reward you with a range of pastel tones, rather than the sandy brown colour it’s most known for. The method for tricking out Canyon De Chelly’s colours reminds me of the technique used with Reichenbach Iris Orange Raku R-108 (“Raku” for short) to make it pop. In one sense I think of Canyon De Chelly as a striking glass (because it can kiln strike a little) in another sense, when I’m working this glass in the flame I treat it as if it is Raku’s little brother.
The colours are not as intense as Raku but they are very pretty in their own right and a lot nicer than the brownish tones most people like this glass for.
Here are my tips for pulling the soft pastel “bruise” colours out of Canyon De Chelly. If you want to make these beads and you do not batch anneal, make them at the end of your torch session so that your beads are not soaking too long. Canyon De Chelly will strike all the way to it’s golden sand brown colour if the beads are sitting too long at a high holding temperature. You will lose the colours you’ve developed in the flame.
1. Get used to working slowly and out near the top of your flame if you want the bruised pastel colours. (This means you should be working about two inches above your normal working zone).
2. Don’t melt a big gather of this glass to make a bead. Apply slow even heat to the end of the rod and wind the glass on to the mandrel. (A big hot gather will strike to a rich ochre brown)
2. Any shaping and melting should take place in the top part of your flame. You’re working this glass cool and slow, if you bring it down to melt hot and fast you will strike it all the way to brown.
3. Once the bead is the size and shape that you want, bring it down into the middle part of the flame (where you normally work) and heat it all evenly. You want the glass to glow red, from a slow deep heating. Do not get it molten.
4. When the bead is glowing red all over (for a good sized round bead this will take about a minute), move the bead out of the flame completely, rotate the glass in cool air (This is also a good time to use any shaping tools). As it cools the bead should go white, you may think you’ve burned all the colour out, but you haven’t.
5. Slowly introduce your bead to the flame, green, then blue, then purple will develop (in that order) first. To get this colour range you don’t need much heat. To stop the reaction and to develop brighter purples, greens and blues, touch the glass to something cold. A brass marver is good. If you like those colours, flame anneal way out at the tip of your flame ,if you are batch annealing to stop the strike. If you’re going straight to kiln, don’t let this bead sit too long before going into an annealing cycle. (The brighter you can get the colour in the flame the richer the colour will be after finishing in the kiln).
6. Keep heating if you want the darker grey purple tones and light caramel tones, if you go this far and touch your bead to brass or cold graphite you will pull back some of the paler blue, green and purple tones.
Other interesting things to note with Canyon De Chelly is that you can layer dots of it on top of itself and you will see a variation (as if they were two different glasses). You may also get a thin black line around, for some reason this glass when merged with itself develops striations. It’s not exactly black, it’s looks almost like a transparent vein (see heart beads).
Also if you heat up a gather with intense heat and dot it onto your existing bead Canyon De Chelly will go a rich cocoa brown (see the very tip of the big heart bead for the colour reference). Hades and other dominant dark pastel colours like to spread out over the top (see lentil bead for reference).
My Kiln Firing Temperature
My kiln has a ramp up schedule of 5.5 degrees celsius a minute (330C an hour), holding at 45 minutes at 535 degrees celsius (995F) before ramping down at 3.5C a minute (210C an hour). I do run my kiln slightly hotter than normal firing temperatures because I mostly make very big beads. For Canyon De Chelly you may want to run your kiln to 505C (940F) to keep as much of the bright colour developed in the flame.
Lastly, Canyon De Chelly is a soft glass (it doesn’t need long to etch) even after it has been correctly annealed it is prone to chipping. When cleaning bead holes out with a Dremel the glass will chip at the edges of the hole if not careful, so go slow if using a Dremel or electric tool to clean out the bead holes. I’ve only ever seen this chipping happen with Lauscha White Kryolith and Canyon De Chelly, it’s a sign that this glass is very soft.
I was reminded recently that Canyon De Chelly is another one of those CiM glasses that does not like to be encased. Canyon De Chelly dots layered in trans glass for petals and such is fine, I haven’t noticed any cracks doing that.