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I wanted to do an addendum to last week’s post about fusing small circles.  This past week I made several attempts to follow the same process with dichroic glass for the glass bookmarks as I did with clear glass.   With one exception, I did not end up with the perfect size circle after my first firing and instead I needed to grind the edges to make the circles the right size.   Here are my assumptions on why this is the case:

  1. Most of my smooth dichroic pieces are 2mm rather than 3mm thick.  And a stack of 3mm, 2mm, 3mm was just not enough to become a circle.
  2. I then tried to compensate for the too small stacks of 8mm and added a 2mm clear piece so now I had 10mm, but then it was hard to get an exact gauge at sizing to get the exact right size circle.
  3. Many of my rippled dichroic pieces are probably sold as 3mm, but they sure seem thicker to me and hence, I also couldn’t get an exact gauge on the square size needed to get my end result the right circle size.

One last input is that often times, when I used the thin 2mm dichroic glass on a black base it would not spread out for the full circle.  To compensate for this, make sure to add a 3mm piece of black under your dichroic piece so that you don’t end up with a square of black inside the clear.

Of course, the end result of small circles even with the added steps of grinding and then fire polishing is still possible and makes for wonderful additions to things like bookmarks and wine stoppers!

Fused Glass Bookmarks

Fused Glass Bookmarks

Last week’s post still works well for the 3mm thick glass pieces, however, it doesn’t work so well when working with dichroic glass as a short cut for getting the perfect size circle in one firing.

I see many different people using small perfect circles in their fused glass jewelry and I kept wondering how to make them so round.  I usually would fuse two pieces of 3mm stacked glass then draw a circle on the back of the fused not-quite circular piece and start grinding until I felt I had gotten the glass to look like a perfect circle, but in reality, I knew it wasn’t quite perfect.

Then I remembered that during class I had taken at Bullseye Resource Center in Portland, we used excess part sheet small parts fusing three layers of 3mm square glass pieces to 1525 degrees F and voila, they had come out round.

I recently bought some bookmarks that have a small round spot for gluing glass cabochons (or wood as I bought these from a wood catalog) and decided to do some test glass circles in clear glass to see which size would work best before I started working with the more expensive dichroic glass.  I cut three squares of each size (3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″) and stacked these three squares lining them up (not sure it matters, but wanted you to know exactly what I had done).   I then fired to 1525 degrees F using a typical kiln cycle. See the top row of my picture below.

Fused Glass Small Circles using 3 layers of 3mm Glass

Fused Glass Small Circles using 3 layers of 3mm Glass

The end result is as follows:

  • Original Cut Square Size             Finished Circle Size
  •            3/8″                                         5/8″
  •            1/2″                                         3/4″
  •            5/8″                                           1″
  •            3/4″                                       1-1/8″

The finished circle size of 3/4″ is perfect for my bookmarks and so my next task will be to make these out of some dichroic scrap pieces and hopefully have some really cool bookmarks to add to my Etsy shop.

Bookmark with Small Fused Glass Circle

Bookmark with Small Fused Glass Circle

As a quick addition, I also wondered about using Bullseye rods to make small circles.  It is quite easy to just nip off a piece of the rid and fire it and get small circles or dots.  But I wasn’t sure how much effect the size of the rod nipped off would have on the dot.  So I did three pieces for this test.

For the rods, it seems that the length of the rod cut ends up being the size of the dot.  So for example, a 1/4″ length cut off the rod ended up in a dot of 1/4″ diameter and a 3/8″ length of rod cut ended up in a dot of 3/8″ diameter.  See the bottom row of the above picture.

I’ll let you know how my dichroic circles work.  Hope this helps you with your perfect small circles!

NOTE: I learn much of what I know from reading other websites, classes and blogs and hence, I haven’t really invented anything new here.  But I am sharing what I found to work and not work.  If you have found other ways to do something similar to this, please share! 

Some weeks are just slow and this week was one of them.  I didn’t get a lot done in the glass workshop, but I was able to do two additional tests this week with the small angular molds.  One test which I mentioned last week was to test opaque versus transparent as the 3mm clear glass had slumped nicely into the Four Squares mold at 1250 degrees F with a hold of 15 minutes.  Hence, this week I did a 3mm opaque piece of Bullseye special glass to which I added some frit poppies.  It slumped just as nicely at 1250 degrees F with a hold of 15 minutes.  I have not ruled out the viscosity of the glass being a factor, but I do not think just purely transparent or opaque makes a difference.

Four Square Fused Glass Dish - 3mm thick (available in my Etsy Store)

Four Square Fused Glass Dish – 3mm thick (available in my Etsy Store)

I also had another mold that I wanted to try.   The One-Square Dish from Bullseye.  So I prepped this mold and made a 6mm square base.  For this mold, 1250 degrees was not hot enough and I needed to refire it to 1265 degrees with a 15 minute hold which worked nicely.  I have not done any other tests on this mold as of yet, but plan to as I think this is a perfect little ring dish or condiment dish.

One Square Fused Glass Dish - 6mm thick (available in my Etsy Store)

One Square Fused Glass Dish – 6mm thick (available in my Etsy Store)

Have a great next week!  And happy fusing to all the fuser’s out there!

I embarked on a new test trying to figure out with smaller more angular molds if 3mm or 6mm thickness of fused glass made a difference in being able to get better definition of the mold.  I used Bullseye’s Four-Square Dish (8935) for all of the following tests.

When I first started fusing glass, I slumped most of my glass pieces at 1225 degrees F based on information I had gleaned from various forums and tutorials.  I started to have a problem with larger plates developing a large bump in the center of the base and as I was in a class at the time, I asked for advice from other more experiences fusers.  I was told that I was taking my slumping schedule too hot and I should not go over 1180 degrees F.  So I have been using 1180 degrees F for my top temperature in my slumping schedule and it works quite well for my kilns and my pieces.

I recently bought some new molds which have more angular indentations, and my pieces did not seem to be taking advantage of the angles.  At first I assumed this was just the way it was, but then when I was in the Bullseye Resource Center, their fused pieces showed off these indentations quite nicely. I noticed that in many of the smaller, angular molds, they had only used a single sheet of 3mm glass and so wondered if this was the key.

Hence my desires to do some testing.  Spoiler alert:  I have to admit that for each test, I ended up with more questions and additional new things to try, so this post is just the beginning of answering the question.  

I first made a 6mm base of cyan and deep red glasses.  I read again many posts and it seems that many people slump deeper molds around 1220-1225 degrees F, so I decided to start with 1225 degrees F for this dish holding it for 10 minutes.  The dish came out nicely, but the sides are softer and not what I was trying to accomplish.

Four-Square Fused Glass Bowl in Cyan and Deep Red (6mm thick)

Four-Square Fused Glass Dish in Cyan and Deep Red (6mm thick)

My second plate was a single sheet of 3mm glass and again I slumped it using the same temperature of 1225 degrees F for 10 minutes.  I had really expected to see a difference in the indentations of the mold between the 3mm piece and the 6mm piece and I did not.

Four-Square Fused Glass Dish using 3mm Bullseye Special Glass with Extras

Four-Square Fused Glass Dish using 3mm Bullseye Special Glass with Extras

As I was in a hurry for my 3rd piece, I just used a 3mm sheet of clear glass this time taking the kiln both hotter to 1250 degrees F and holding it for 15 minutes.  This time I did indeed end up with more defined indentations.  But I realized after the fact that my first two pieces were opaque and the clear was not and hence perhaps since I altered the viscosity of the glass, this was another variable to which I needed to test.

Four-Square Fused Glass Dish in 3mm Clear Glass  (and taken to hotter slump temperature)

Four-Square Fused Glass Dish in 3mm Clear Glass (and taken to hotter slump temperature)

Here are all the factors which I believe are important and could possibly alter the end result:

1) thickness of the glass

2) viscosity of the glass

3) maximum slumping temperature

4) hold time at the maximum slumping temperature

My next tests this coming week will be to do a similar opaque 3mm sheet to test 2 but at the higher temperature and then also to try a 6mm fused blank at the higher temperature of test 3 to see if the opaqueness/viscosity play into the end result.

Of course, all the pieces are visually nice and completely functional for nuts, dips, salt tastings, and so forth.  But sometimes you just have to know How Things Work!

If you have any suggestions as you have already discovered the secrets to doing this, please add your comments!  This will help both me and any readers.  Thanks.  :-)

I find nature to be very calming and hence decided to add a little nature to a few fused glass night lights.  A night light is that little extra something that sits unobtrusively on the wall, and yet you see it regularly as you walk by both in daylight and in darkness.  Why not enjoy a beautiful scene with glass and colors that sparkle and reflect the light and maybe you will smile and relax each time you see it.

These night lights are also a great beginner project for glass fusing as they are small and creative allowing that taste of creating glass art without being overwhelming.

Frog Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

Frog Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

I have made night lights using two layers of glass (each layer is 3mm) and also a single 3mm sheet of glass and I personally think the single layer looks better as it not so heavy.  However, with a single layer of glass it is harder to get a variety of color and depth, so I decided to try using glass powder and glass frit to paint on the color and add depth.  You can do the whole process in a single firing, however because I do not have a lot of experience with “glass painting” I decided to do it in two firings.

Hummingbird Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

Hummingbird Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

For the first firing, I started with a single piece of 3mm clear glass and added powder.  My final night lights were going to feature a frog, hummingbird, rooster and stork, so for each character I needed to decide on the background.  Were they flying in the air, sitting among the weeds, playing in the water and then which glass colors best exhibited this scene.

But let me back up a step.  As I am not that familiar with powder colors once they are fired, I did a first step of creating some samples using clear glass and just laying strips of different blue and green powders, then firing so I would have this sample when trying to choose the sky and grass and water colors.

If you haven’t heard this mantra before, “if you think you have enough powder on your piece, add more!” remember it now.  I didn’t use nearly enough on my samples, but it was enough for me to get the idea.

Now back to the night lights, after deciding what scene I wanted for each animal, I applied the different glass powders to create the background and then fired each piece to 1400 degrees F.  I was glad I was doing a second firing because I didn’t follow the mantra above and did not have enough color.  So before adding the animals to each sheet, I added some more powder to the background and in some cases I added some other sizes of frit to give the piece dimension.  I then took the stencil of the animal and carefully laid it on the background and first added a layer of glass powder inside the template and then topped it with a layer of fine frit sometimes in the same color and sometimes in a  different color.   I then fired them a second time taking the kiln to only 1350 degrees as I wanted the top layer of frit to not completely fuse in.

Rooster Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

Rooster Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

Sometimes I curve the night lights with an additional firing on a stainless steel form and sometimes I decide I like them to remain flat which is what I decided for these nature night lights to better show off the animals.

Stork Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

Stork Fused Glass Night Light (see Etsy listing)

The last step is to glue the night light metal backs to the glass using E6000 glue. 24 hours later I put the glass with the metal back (but not the plastic night light base or bulb) in the oven, heat the oven to 200 degrees and then let it cool to room temperature before removing the pieces.  This helps the E6000 glue adhere better.

These night lights were that easy!  If you are just getting started in glass or perhaps teaching some newbies, give this project a try.

I recently was asked to make a picture frame for someone’s parent’s 50th Anniversary.  (Congrats to the wonderful couple!)  The only requirement was to use gold in the design.  I decided to use both black glass with gold iridescence from Bullseye as well as gold mica powder.

True to any project I do, I learn a lot and usually have to do things twice before I am happy.  I started by making the corners of the frame.  I cut templates for the 50th, Hearts and Wedding Bells out of cardboard and taped them to 2 inch squares of black glass.  Then I lightly brushed on a glass glue and sifted the mica onto the glue.  After they dried, I removed the cardboard templates.  Some spots were well, “spotty”, so I mixed some mica with the glue and used a paint brush to touch things up.

In order to remove extraneous mica powder I used Q-tips and water and basically cleaned up the edges of my design and removed excess mica that had fallen anywhere on the black glass it didn’t belong.  I then fired the squares to 1275 degrees F.   I guess I didn’t examine them carefully enough as they looked fine at a quick glance, and in general the squares looked good although the mica was somewhat muted.  Since my client said her parents were not flashy, muted was fine.

I put all the remaining pieces together for the frame (clear as the base, black glass on top with strips of the black gold iridescence) and fired it to a full fuse.  Unfortunately, the corners ended up with streaks of a haze basically where I had done the cleaning.  In hindsight I realized that I should not have used tap water (or in my case lake water) to do the cleaning as who knows what chemicals are in the water.  So what to do.

Picture Frame Before Firing the First Time

Picture Frame Before Firing the First Time

I decided to sandblast the frame and of course, since the mica only sticks to the glass it touches and it is really only on the surface, the mica disappeared.  Therefore after sandblasting and religiously cleaning the frame, I reapplied the corner designs.  This time though I just used a paintbrush rather than sifting to apply the mica and did my clean up of the excess mica powder with Bullseye’s Spartan glass cleaner.

I re-fired to an almost full fuse.  The mica corners are actually vibrant where before they had been muted.  If I had to guess it is because mica got down into the tiny holes of the sandblasted glass and so there was more mica remaining after the fuse to sparkle.

Finished Picture Frame after Second Firing with Brighter Mica Powder

Finished Picture Frame after Second Firing with Brighter Mica Powder

Lessons learned:

  • For a more vibrant Mica look, apply the mica to sandblasted glass.
  • Use distilled water or glass cleaner for the mica clean-up step.
Close-Up of the more Vibrant Hearts

Close-Up of the more Vibrant Hearts

In the end, it turned out very well and I hope her parent’s really love the frame!

Spring is when many of us get the motivation to freshen up something or someplace in our lives. Glass drawer pulls are a great way to add a special touch to a dresser or cabinets.   I had bought a mold for making drawer pulls over a year ago and never gave them a try, so I found the mold and instructions from Creative Paradise and began to experiment.

This process is actually fairly simple with some lessons learned which I will describe below.  The basics of the process are to start with a hole punch to punch disks from 1/8″ fiber cloth and then add all 5 disks to a nichrome wire which comes with the mold.  You then cut fiber paper 1/2″ x 3/4″ and wrap it around the disks and glue it in place.  I will have to admit that this task is the hardest of this whole process.  You are working with small pieces and my fingers just had a hard time getting the paper around the disks and glued evenly.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.

After making four of these fiber disk stacks, prepare your mold (I used MR-97) and then push the nichrome wires into the holes in the mold, so the wire is sticking out the bottom of the mold and the fiber disk stack is resting on the cavity on the bottom of each drawer pull.   Add frit and fire to a full fuse temperature.

Fused Glass Drawer Pulls

Fused Glass Drawer Pulls

While the process was straightforward, I did have several lessons learned:

1) The instructions indicate to use medium frit at the bottom of each knob around the fiber disk stack so you get as little air around them as possible and get a nice fully filled base.  My first attempt was with medium frit and I had a very uneven base on the knobs (see red and yellow knob in the picture below).  My next attempt was using fine frit which I thought worked much better (see aqua blue knob – 2nd from left), but still room for improvement.  For my third and fourth attempts, I stuck with the fine frit, but actually patted the frit down into the hole to get a very dense pack.  This worked the best.   See the light blue and adventurine green knobs below.

Illustrates Impact of Frit Size on Drawer Pull Base

Illustrates Impact of Frit Size on Drawer Pull Base

2) Use a very fine spoon to place the fit around the stems in the cavities and try hard to make sure the stem is standing straight up to get an even fill around the stem or your finished knob base will be a little lopsided.

3) Be very careful that none (or very little) of the nichrome wire is sticking up above the fiber disks.  I had one wire get stuck in the finished glass knob.  After pulling and twisting with pliers, I was able to remove it, but best to just make sure the wire doesn’t get stuck in the first place.

You get a very different look from course frit (recommended in the instructions) versus medium and fine fit as well as solid or multiple colors.   My husband’s favorite is the solid adventurine green as he likes the single color, and depth that the adventurine gives.  I like the multiple colors like the light blue and white one or the cranberry pink and vanilla one which I think are perfect for a baby’s dresser.  Which do you like best?

The last step is to insert a brass insert for the screw, but since these inserts didn’t come with the mold, I will have to buy these.  Can’t wait.

I believe that these drawer pulls might be hard to sell as most people already have their colors and want the drawer pulls to match those colors, but I think there are some cases where these little extras come first and set the colors.

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