I love Bullseye Glass’s steel blue, maybe because I love subtle bling and the silver hue after firing is just my kind of bling. I wanted to do a drop vase using the blue and see how it would streak down the sides of the vase as the vase dropped. And I learned something new about steel blue along the way: Don’t set your expectations too firm and just enjoy how it constantly changes with each firing!
To learn more about Bullseye’s steel blue, check out their tip sheet. It has some wonderful characteristics.
Since I was doing a long drop (about 6”), I followed the rule of using 6mm for a 4” drop and then for every 2” added to the height, add another 3mm sheet of glass. Therefore, before I did the drop, I would need a total of three 3mm sheets of glass.
To start, I cut one circle from clear Tekta and another from steel blue. I lay the steel blue on top of the clear, added a stencil of large dots and sifted clear powder onto the stencil. I then fired the two pieces of glass to a full fuse. I really liked the results.
My goal was to have dots on both sides of the vase (one side large dots and the other side small dots) as I didn’t want the inside of the drop vase to be plain. So I flipped the fused disk over and added another piece of steel blue and again sifted clear powder, but used the small circles stencil and again fired to a full fuse. This time I used thin fire on the shelf as I wanted to keep the bottom smooth since it would be the top of the vase.
The tip sheet indicates that to get the best effects of the steel blue, you should fire it between 1250-1400 degrees F. My kiln does not require a very high temperature to get a nice fuse and so I typically fire it at 1440 degrees which is what I used for both firings. For the first one, the silver hue was apparent as well as the steel blue dots. And for the second firing, the same was true of the top surface. What surprised me was that the downside on the thin fire lost its silver hue and went back to steel blue. I could see a faint shift where the dots had been but essentially they were gone.
Since I wanted to do the drop now but still wanted something different on the top since I had lost the powder dots, I decided to add some clear circles which would tack fuse since I was taking the drop to 1235 degrees F. I really wish I had remembered to take a picture but the top stayed steel blue and then the inside of the vase was steel blue and the outside was a mottled silver hue and steel blue as the drop pulled the dots. Very cool!
I had one more firing to do though as I like to add a disk to the bottom for stability. And yes, I should have just added it when I did the drop, but I always want to make sure I get it centered and so usually I do this as a separate step. The pre-fired circle was a piece of steel blue with a slightly smaller circle of clear. The end result of the vase changed again which I just never expected as this time I only took the kiln to 1220 degrees F. This time, the silver hue came back on the top surface and streaks inside the vase, and the original large dots of clear powder became noticable again.
Overall, it is a very cool vase which pictures don’t do it justice. However, I was fascinated by the fact that for each fire, I really could not or was not able to predict exactly what would happen. All the more reason to love steel blue and its beautiful quirkiness!