In my Las Vegas class with Roz Stanton and Debbie Patana we used several different products to experience ways to add dimension to our glass art.  One of these products was glass paint and MUD from Unique Glass Colors.   This was a product I had bought several years ago and had dabbled with but not explored to its full extent so it was great to have a nice introduction.

They have several unique products with which I wanted to play, their bubble paint and their MUD.  So I decided to make a water scene with a seahorse to make use of these products.  We each were given 2 sheets of clear glass to create our projects.

Let’s start with the MUD.  According to Unique Glass Colors website, MUD is a glass based texture medium.  It dries hard after applying and is three dimensional-like so it is great for outlines and items you want to stand out.   I decided to use this to outline my seahorse and also for the coral.  To apply the MUD, you can use a brush, stick, palette knife or cake decorating set which is what we used in the class.  You can use the MUD as already mixed and we just scooped it into the pastry bag, applied a tip and squeezed it right onto the glass.   This piece of glass with the seahorse and coral will be my top piece of glass.

Tip: The MUD dries very quickly so make sure to store your pastry bag and tip in a plastic storage bag with a damp sponge in between uses during your project.

For the UCG paints, they come in powder form and we mixed each color we wanted to use in a little plastic cup using equal amounts of powder with the UCG Medium. The goal is a consistency of melted ice cream.

It might sound strange to want to add bubbles to your fused glass as so many of us spend a lot of time learning the perfect firing schedules to get as few bubbles as possible and here we are adding bubbles, but bubbles can add dimension and realism to a scene.  But the bubble paint needs to be capped with another sheet of glass for the bubbles to manifest, so I took my second sheet of clear and painted my background scene using Royal Blue, Teal Green and Teal Blue.  Each bubble paint color has unique properties and some colors produce larger bubbles and some smaller bubbles, so it will be good to explore these colors when I have time to learn more about their differences.  In my final piece, it appears that the Royal Blue and Teal Green produced the larger bubbles and the Teal Blue was more consistent with smaller bubbles. Nice!

It was suggested that we explore adding paint on all four sides of the glass so I decided to paint in the seahorse on the bottom of the glass sheet where I painted its outline.   I elevated the glass sheet on some upside down plastic cups so I could paint on the bottom without disturbing what I had already done on the top side.  This time I used some of the non-bubble producing paint colors and painted the seahorse using flesh and mint green colors.  I didn’t take into consideration that 1) the bubbles might come through from the base glass and 2) that my colors from the base and the seahorse would mix, so the seahorse colors changed and he ended up bubbly.  Unintentional, but not bad.

Project Before Firing Painted using UCG Paints ad MUD

Project Before Firing, Painted using UCG Paints ad MUD

Last, after I put the two sheets of glass together, the scene was a little boring, so I added some tan and warm brown paint on the top sheet to add some sand texture.  And then I added some gold dots on the coral.  The gold is actually pre-mixed and I just dabbed a toothpick in the paint to apply to the coral.

The paint requires a typical high firing schedule, and so I fired my piece to 1460 degrees.

Fused Glass Tile after Firing, Painted using UCG Paints ad MUD

Fused Glass Tile after Firing, Painted using UCG Paints ad MUD

A few lessons learned here:

  1. If there is paint on the bottom of your glass it will stick to your prepared kiln shelf and is much harder to remove later from your glass than kiln wash.  So either make sure your bottom sheet of glass has no paint on it, or use shelf paper under your glass when firing.
  2. Don’t be fooled by the unfired colors.  You can see in my before and after pictures that the before colors did not resemble at all the after colors.  This concerned a few of the other students at first as they had thought they didn’t mix the color they really wanted.  It does make it a little hard to visually feel your piece before you fire, but the after colors are so rich and vibrant.
  3. The directions indicate it is best not to paint this on your glass with a paint brush but to rather apply it with something like a popsicle stick and sort of puddle it on as you want a fairly thick layer and no streaks.  I actually did use my brush and it worked fine.  Something to also test more later.
  4. Last, the direction state to use a stainless steel cake tip for the MUD.  I assume it has something to do with chemical reactions.  One of the reasons I had not used my own MUD before the class was because I had a hard time finding stainless steel tips.  I asked about this in class and was told it didn’t really make a difference and I have to admit that I didn’t see any issue after firing knowing that I had not used a stainless steel tip.  So again, something to test.

Last week was my fourth year attending the annual Glass Craft and Bead Show in Las Vegas.  I love meeting the vendors, asking questions, and learning valuable information.  I am not ready to buy a new kiln yet, but I was definitely in shopping mode!

For the first time, I decided to take a class at the show and as long as I was springing, I wanted the best.  I anxiously waited for registration to open and got my first choice, a 4-day class taught by Roz Stanton and Debbie Patana called Mastering Art with Glass.  The class was wonderful as we learned so many different techniques and got to try different products.  It was funny that some of the products many of us had bought in the past either at the show or through an online vendor, but then for whatever reason had not used.  So it was great to have an easy introduction to these products.

The key pieces we made were three 18″ circles which I will share mine here.  My favorite is Ellie, the elephant.   Each involved a different process and tools.

Ellie, the Elephant

Ellie, the Elephant

I did learn that underneath I am still an engineer always planning and utilizing lines and much of the design work in class was fast and free-flowing.  So I didn’t feel as creative as some of the other students, but I enjoyed watching them work hoping that some of Roz’s and Debbie’s and the other student’s ease of flow would wear off on me!

Dancing in the Serengeti

Dancing in the Serengeti

Over the next several blogs I will share some of the products/tools we played with in class as perhaps you will like to try these products as well.  And if you ever get the opportunity to take a class from Roz and Debbie, I know you will enjoy yourself immensely.

Sunset on the Beach

Sunset on the Beach

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I recently worked on a custom order for a fused glass drop vase.   While I made a similar vase several times in the past, Murphy had his hand at this one.  The first vase ended up with a weird finish on the outside of the vase.  It looked fine, but just didn’t feel right even after sanding it.  So I started the second vase.  This time, a relay in my kiln failed and I had to replace the relay.

For drop vases, it is important to be present when the vase is actually dropping so you can control the depth of the drop.   Since my current shop is an hour drive away, I set the schedule to stay at 100 degrees F for 18 hours and then start the program so that it would be ready to drop when I arrived at the shop the next day.  This way I didn’t need to sit there for 6-7 hours waiting for it to drop. Also at the top temperature, the first vase dropped to the right depth at 1.5 hours, so this time I had set the hold time for 1.25 hours to be on the safe side.

While the schedule worked for the first vase, for the second vase the kiln seemed to ignore the 18 hour hold and when I arrived the next day, the vase had dropped and the kiln was already at room temperature.    And this time 1.25 hours was too long of a hold and so the drop not only touched the kiln shelf, it pushed the vase stem sideways.  Hence why I am calling it the wonky vase.  While interesting in its own right, this vase is not what the customer wanted.

Luckily vase three went well although I did stay at the shop the entire time to ensure the schedule was working and it dropped the appropriate amount.

Fused Glass Drop Vase

Fused Glass Drop Vase

So what to do with a wonky vase?  It no longer made sense to use the stand, so I decided to make the vase its own stand.   After creating the base using two 3mm sheets of glass with some confetti added on, I then put the vase back on the drop vase mold to tack fuse the vase onto the base I just made.  I only went to 1200 degrees F for the tack fuse.

In one of my original blogs, I had explained a faux pas I made with my drop mold and had to cut the mold to get the vase free.  Check out the blog for a picture of the mold (http://idlecreativity.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/planning-ahead/).  I still have this mold and it was this mold I used to do the tacking of the base so I didn’t have the same removal problem again.  To cover the cracks in the mold, I used fiber cloth which also helped elevate the vase enough for the base glass to fit beneath.  Love it when a plan comes together.

Check out the completed Wonky Fused Glass Vase!

Wonky Fused Glass Drop Vase

Wonky Fused Glass Drop Vase

In early January, I mentioned that I wanted to create a two-tone crackle bowl and was playing with grey and black glass powder and showed some samples I had tried.  They were interesting, but none of them rocked my socks.  So I took a leap of faith with the bowl (meaning no more samples) and used french vanilla and black.

On the fiber cloth, I first covered the circle outline with a layer of french vanilla powder, then a layer of black powder and then a final layer of french vanilla again.  I wanted the black to just peek out around the edges of the french vanilla.

I also wondered what it would look like to add another color but not have it crackle.  So after I sprayed water on the powder, let it dry awhile and then did the crackling (please read my previous posts if you want a better step by step description), I added red powder on top.  I should have done this after I moved the fiber to the kiln, as moving it cracked the red and I needed to add a little more on top.  I then covered with a 3mm clear top and fired.

After the first fire, I then put another sheet of 3mm clear on a kiln shelf added another streak of red (as I wanted the bottom of the bowl to have a similar streak as the top) and then put the crackle layer on top and fired again.  Last, I slumped it into a shallow bowl mold.

Fused Glass Crackle Bowl

Fused Glass Crackle Bowl

Close-up of Glass Crackle

Close-up of Glass Crackle

I love the black just peaking around the french vanilla in the crackle.  However, a friend commented that they thought the red was needed as it might be a little boring with just the vanilla and black.    What do you think?  Too plain without and it needed the red?  Very curious for your thoughts!

Two years ago, I did a lot with Mica powder as I really wanted to use it to create ginkgo leaf impressions on glass.  I had some success, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped and as typical for me this meant sending the process to the back burner to play with again in the future.

This past December I decided to create ornaments for my yoga instructors placing a simple yoga symbol in mica so I was back to figuring the process out.  I had recently read Bridget Stiverson’s blog and she explained that rather than painting or stamping on the mica, she sifted it onto the glass and her pictures looked great.  So I did my typical test and decided to paint one and sift one.  While the painted one is not bad and could have an application depending on your goal, the sifted one is far more simple and elegant and was perfect for my ornament application.

Mica Painted on Glass and then Fused

Mica Painted on Glass and then Fused

Mica Sifted onto Glass and then Fused

Mica Sifted on Glass and then Fused

Bridget used a stamp to stamp the image on the glass first and then dusted the mica over the stamped area.  I didn’t have a stamp for the yoga symbol so I made a template out of cardboard.

For the painted method, I mixed the mica with Bullseye GlasTac and then painted that inside the template.

For the sifted method, again using the template I painted just the Bullseye GlasTac on the glass and then dusted the mica over the glue.

Key lesson learned:  If you work with glass, I am sure you have heard many times to wear a face mask when working with glass powder/frit.  But don’t forget to use it with mica as well.  I had mica dust all over the place as it is so fine it just floats in the air.  I did try to collect the extra mica after sifting to use in another application, but I know I lost a lot to the air!

Enjoy and Namaste!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and did not allow yourself to get caught up in the holiday rat race. Every year I promise myself that I will do less at the holidays and alas I still have not succeeded in having a stress free and relaxing holiday season.   I had even hoped to create a custom picture of my glass with a cool Holiday or New Year’s message.  Maybe next year.

I did spend a lot of time in the glass shop in December making some custom orders, trying smaller items like wine stoppers and money clips for sale in the Mountain View General Store, as well as making some Christmas presents.  One of the items involved using my version of the crackle glass technique for which I am still attempting to figure out all the nuances.  So I thought I would share some of my additional lessons learned.

A friend requested a custom purple crackle bowl with a green or yellow background.  My first attempt was with a transparent purple as it has a rich deep purple look.  But then when I paired it with a spring green background glass it came through the purple color and made it look black/brown and wasn’t the look we wanted.  So I got some opalescent gold purple and tried again.  This was much better.

Green and Purple Crackle Bowl

Green and Purple Crackle Bowl

But we decided we wanted more green and so I combined an adventurine green color for the bowl.  I ended up making two as unfortunately the first one had a small hairline crack along the top edge after slumping.  We reversed the colors as well.

Purple and Green Crackle Bowl

Purple and Green Crackle Bowl

Here are four lessons learned:

  • Based on your color choices and the look you want, you need to be careful and pick the right transparent or opalescent color glass powders.
  • You also need to check the Bullseye Reactive Glass charts because I didn’t realize that initially I had chosen reactive colors and so had to add an extra 2mm sheet of clear between my crackle powder sheet and my background glass.  Hence why I think I got the crack because I didn’t anneal it long enough for the extra thickness.
  • When looking at the final product (especially in pictures), I don’t seem to get an even amount of powder for the crackle.  Assuming the look you want is consistency, try to lay out an even amount and thick amount of powder.
  • The adventurine green color does really well with the crackle effect.  I was amazed at how cool it looked.

Now I am working with grey and black glass powders and trying to get a shadow of black peaking around the edges of the grey.  I wanted to make this into a 2″ deep bowl and have the design two-sided so you could have a different look inside and outside.  My original thought was to separate the layers of crackle glass with a sheet of white.  But when I did my test sheet using white glass on the powder rather than clear glass, I noticed the crackle effect was much different with white as the background.  Then I remembered that white glass is very stiff and does not flow as well and I think it stifled the crackle somewhat.

Next lesson learned:

  • For a better crackle look, use as your first base sheet a color of glass that flows well.

So I did another test piece with clear glass on the powder and figured I could add the white as a next step.  This time I laid one half with grey and the other half with black and then added another layer of powder on top laying grey on top of black and black on top of grey and capped with clear.  I wanted to see if the grey would peek out around the black like the black peaks out around the grey.  This worked okay, but the black is so dominant that the grey did not peek out around it.

Last lesson learned:

  • Don’t hesitate to layer different colors.  It has a nice shadow effect as long as the color on top is a heavy powder layer of a lighter opalescent color.

So my third attempt was to add a layer of grey powder, then black powder and finally grey powder again capped with clear glass.  This worked quite well (see the right sample in both pictures below).  Now I think I am ready to try my bowl.

Grey and Black Crackle Tiles - Side 1 (Try 1, 2 and 3 in order)

Grey and Black Crackle Tiles – Side 1 (Try 1, 2 and 3 in order)

Grey and Black Crackle Tiles - Side 2 (Try 1, 2 and 3 in order)

Grey and Black Crackle Tiles – Side 2 (Try 1, 2 and 3 in order)

Stay tuned for final pictures of this bowl.

Happy 2014!  And I hope all of your projects whether they be glass or otherwise are productive, full of learning and downright fun!

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