Last year, I moved to a small city along the Oregon Coast. At the time, there was a vacant movie theater which we hoped would some day reopen. Our wish came true about six months later when the movie theater reopened as City Lights Cinema. The owners, Michael Falter and Susan Tive, have created a wonderful place to relax while enjoying new release movies as well as independent films and documentaries. They just celebrated their one year anniversary and I wanted to make a glass plate to help them celebrate. Hence began my challenges.
Before a movie starts at the Cinema, the City Lights logo is displayed and it always reminds me of my white and black crackle plates which is how I began to envision these plates would develop. You know me and crackle! I was reminded though how important it is to take notes as it has been awhile since I made the white and black crackle and I had to try several combinations – french vanilla with dense white, white with grey, white with black, french vanilla with black – before getting a base plate I liked. I went with the white and black crackle base.
First lesson learned: Don’t forget to take good notes! I keep having to remind myself of this especially when I am feeling lazy with the paperwork.
Their logo is representative of the old illuminated tin signs where the letters are formed out of sheet metal and there are light bulbs inside. The tin color is red with the foreground color being a burnt yellow.
Since I have been playing recently with powders, I thought perhaps the best way to create the letters would be to create powder wafers for each letter. I printed their name onto Bullseye thinfire paper using my laser printer.
Second lesson learned: The toner did not stick very well to thinfire and while it was good enough for my purposes, my printer cartridge needed a little cleaning to get rid of the extra toner that did not stick to the paper. Perhaps my inkjet or just copying the letters over a light box onto the thinfire would have been better.
I added the powder using a paintbrush to fill in the letters on the thinfire paper and fused to 1325 degrees F. The letters came out okay but I did notice that each letter shrank from its original size and some where quite thin in places which makes sense as the powder was pulling in during firing. I then made a small sample powder letter I using the yellow and tried to see how they would look when I stacked them overlapping each other. I debated if this would give me a nice finish as I wasn’t convinced they would fully fuse into the base.
While I was pondering how to do this, my sister-in-law suggested I try something like silk screening asking if there was such a thing in glass. Why yes there is and it has been on my list of Bullseye classes to take however I know it requires silk screening materials and know how which I current do not possess. This got me thinking that perhaps I could just put the powder directly on a sheet of glass and make one red and one yellow and then overlay them.
To do this, I use a sheet of cardboard to cut out the logo using this as my stencil for applying the powders to the glass sheets.
Third lesson learned: Don’t use corrugated cardboard as the cut edges tend to shed. I learned this several years ago but forgot. Oh well.
After the crackle base was ready, I added a thin 2mm sheet of white to the back, while sifting the red letters directly onto the top of the crackle and took it to a full fuse. To create the red letters, I taped the cardboard stencil to the glass, did a light spritz of hair spray and then sifted the red powder.
I then took a clear sheet of glass the same size as the base and using the same stencil and sifting technique adding the yellow letters to this sheet. Because I wanted the final yellow to be offset from the red, I had to make sure I shifted my cardboard template the correct offset. For this sheet, I didn’t want the single sheet of glass to pull in at a full fuse, so I only did a tack fuse at 1325 degrees F.
When both were fused, I needed one more fuse to marry the yellow letter sheet to the base. I had read a good technique for fully fusing two pieces of already fired glass is to add a thin layer of clear powder between them eliminating bubbles that might form as the sheets will heat up at different rates. So I decided to do this and it worked beautifully!
Fourth lesson learned: Clear powder between sheets of glass works well to eliminate bubbles between the layers.
Oh, I almost forgot about the light bulbs both here writing and when firing! I had previously fired white and french vanilla course frit taking the kiln to 1510 degrees to create dots for my light bulbs. I decided to go with the french vanilla dots as they showed better than the white dots which seemed almost transparent. For the final firing pictured above, I layered the base crackle plate, a fine sift of clear powder, then the clear sheet with yellow letters, and finally I placed the dots onto the yellow letters.
Check it out. The City Lights plate turned out to be one of my better creations and I was happy to give it to Michael and Susan for their first City Lights Cinema anniversary.
I would love to learn other ways to create the letters, so if you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks!