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Here is another simple technique I learned, but oh so valuable.  I got this tip from Dustin Sherron at Bullseye Glass in Portland.  I always had a hard time breaking the full sheets of glass and getting the glass to break straight across.  Some glass artists suggested making sure the glass was at room temperature.  Some suggested always cut glass in half and then keep dividing, but what if I only wanted 8” and then perhaps I wanted something larger next time, but I already cut it down too small.  Others, indicated that you should break it over the edge of a table by leaning the scored line on the edge and pushing down.  I am quite sure all of these have value, but they still didn’t always make me successful.

Since I am not strong enough to try to lift the full sheet on the table, I cut my large sheets on the floor and then in the past I put a stack of cardboard sheets under the scored edge to break it by pushing on the cut edge.  I have had some success with this, but still have many non-clean breaks.

Last time I was at Bullseye in Portland, I was talking with Dustin and happened to mention I had a hard time cutting the larger sheets and he asked me how I was doing this.  I explained my cardboard trick and he said first it was too soft a material and second I needed to not just push but instead drop it against the hard edge.  I have tried this many times now and so far, all successes.

Here is my process (and sorry I use the floor, but you can adapt this to what works for you):

1.  I use the glass wrapping paper as a base on my floor mostly to catch any little bits of glass, but also protect the floor.  Then place your glass sheet on the paper.

2.  I use a carpenter square where the long side is perfect for the width of the full sheets to score the line I want.

3.  Then I place the glass on a piece of particle board or plywood (something with a hard straight edge) putting the score line on the edge of the wood and letting one end hang over the edge.

4.  Lift the side of the glass not on the board about 2 inches and then let it drop.  The glass breaks on the score line and falls onto the paper and I have a nice clean straight edge.

Breaking Full Sheets of Fused Glass

Breaking Full Sheets of Fused Glass

I have read that whites are one of the hardest to score clean and straight and it even worked with white!  Give it a try.

Thanks, Dustin!  I learn something new every time I visit Bullseye!  My favorite candy shop.  🙂

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Happy Valentine’s Day Cards

Sometimes you have to put something temporarily away to reduce frustration and perhaps later have success.  At Christmastime, I tried to make holiday cards using Christmas Ornaments and then adding them to the cards.  I bought red cards and envelopes at Michael’s and then some white card stock.  My goal was to use my Cricut to cut out everything like the holes on the front, print something on the front, print something on the inside card and then print on the back, Created by IdleCreativity.  Maybe it was the hecticness of the holidays but getting exactly what I wanted on the Cricut wasn’t working.  So I boxed everything up and put it away.

Two weeks ago, I realized Valentine’s Day was fast approaching and thought, perhaps I will try again.  This time, I decided to go simpler.  I used the red cards as I bought them with no writing, used a hole punch for the holes on the front, and used the Cricut to create the inside card.  Some inside cards I left blank, but others I added “Be Mine” and I cut a heart out on the opposite side.  I created a small card to add to the cellophane bag to indicate it was Created by IdleCreativity, the price and a message indicating to only send through the mail if it was placed in a padded envelope.  Much simpler project and it worked great.

They have flown off the shelf at the gallery where I sell them.  Give it a try!

So many ideas and so little time.  I first must apologize that it has been so long since I posted anything new.  Life has definitely gotten in the way of both my blog and in some ways my creativity.  What keeps me going is trying new things for this blog.  While I haven’t had time lately to write-up my experiments, I have at least stashed ideas, tried new things and taken notes and pictures.

I am going to start this year with a short post but a very important concept and simply put, it involves clear powder between sheets of glass.  Sometimes you find a post where someone mentions for a certain piece that they sprinkled clear powder between two sheets of glass, but I am here to tell you that you should make this a standard practice if you want to have fewer bubbles.   I don’t have a lot of pictures showing you the difference, but for this most recent set of coasters pictured below, you can see the bubbles in the blue coasters where I forgot to use clear powder and very few in the clear irid ones where I did add the powder.

Backside of Irid Coasters Showing Bubbles

Clear Irid Coaster with few Bubbles

Blue Coaster with Bubbles

1) Often when fusing two opaque glass colors together, it seems like the finished piece has “lumps.”  Not sure the best way to describe it except as lumpy.  Since bubbles in glass are common, I assumed that these lumps were just part of fusing together opaque glass.  However, when I sprinkle clear powder on the base sheet before adding the second sheet on top, I eliminate these lumps.  So much nicer.

2) When fusing transparent glasses together, I could see the bubbles, some small, some large and wanted to eliminate as many as possible.  Again, it seems like this is acceptable, but often you really want a cleaner look.  Sprinkling powder between the sheets seems to eliminates all but the smallest bubbles.

How to do it?

1) Clean your bottom sheet of glass. 

2) I used a small lazy susan to elevate the glass so it is easier to then move to the kiln.  Using a sifter, sift just a small amount of powder across the surface.  It does not need to cover it, however I do make sure I get the edges.

I am not sure technically what is happening, but I believe that the clear powder is creating a small gap that allows the air to escape rather than getting trapped and causing bubbles.  Since you want the edges to be the last to fuse so more air can escape, I just make sure that the edges are powdered.

3) Clean your top sheet of glass and place it on top of the bottom sheet and start the kiln.

Very simple.  It adds an extra step and I do go through clear powder faster now, but definitely worth the effort!

Sometime ago I visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens when they were featuring a Chihuly Art Garden and it was wonderful to see the exquisite glass mixed in with all the beautiful greenery.  I decided to give some fused glass garden art a try. 

Fused Glass Garden Stakes

Fused Glass Garden Stakes

When I started this task several years ago, I wanted to go with pre-made stakes and searched for quite a while before I decided to get the stakes from Creative Jubilee.  I’ll have to admit that I don’t even remember what I used to attach the stake to the glass but we were working at the time to fix a house up for sale and I am pretty sure I grabbed the same silicone caulk we were using for the windows.  I liked the stake but some of my glass ended up being fairly substantial, read heavy, and I wanted a thicker diameter stake.

Over time, I read many blogs and Facebook posts where people were not sure how to glue metal stakes to glass so I took this as something I needed to figure out and test.   This time though I decided to make my own stakes, buying some aluminum metal rod which I cut to length and using a course belt sander, sanded one side flat so it would lie flat against the glass.  It is probably not necessary to have it lie flat against the glass, but I thought, “why not.”

Aluminum Rod Sanded on One Side

Aluminum Rod Sanded on One Side

Aluminum Rod Lying Flat on Glass

Aluminum Rod Lying Flat on Glass

I researched different kinds of glues, epoxy and silicone and decided to try a silicone adhesive specifically made to adhere metal and also good for an outside environment.   

http://www.caulkyourhome.com/ge-silicone-II-aluminum-and-metal.php

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper experiment without testing the finished product in the elements.  While my weather does not vary greatly, these stakes have seen a few 90 degree days and a several more freezing days and they still look the same as the day I put them in the planters.

Back of Plant Stake showing Silicone

Back of Plant Stake showing the GE Silicone II Adhesive

Back of Plant Stake

Back of Plant Stake showing the Creative Jubilee stake with typical Window Silicone

While I really like the silicone adhesive made for metal, it did cost more and both have held up just as well after one year of testing.  Perhaps over the long haul this will change.  The silicone adhesive for metal only came in grey, so if you needed clear because of a transparent piece, try a different clear silicone made for outside use.   Either way, enjoy some beautiful glass in your garden!

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!

Bullseye Glass Steel Blue Drop Vase

Bullseye Glass Steel Blue Drop Vase

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.

Bottom of Fired Steel Blue Vase. Can see the faint outlines of where the clear powder dots had been, but they disappeared when fired facing the shelf.

Bottom of Steel Blue Vase fired facing thin fire. You can see the faint outlines of where the clear powder dots had been, but they disappeared when fired facing the shelf.

 

Top of Disk after Firing with Clear Powder for Dots

Top of Disk after Firing with Clear Powder for Small Dots (This became the outside of the vase and bottom of the vase rim)

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.

Top View of Bullseye Steel Blue Vase after 4 Firings Where the Dots Became Visible Again

Top View of Bullseye Steel Blue Vase after 4 Firings Where the Dots Became Visible 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!

Glass and metal are next in my combining glass series.

Fused Glass on Stainless Steel Wall Art

Fused Glass on Stainless Steel Wall Art

I was recently at a metal supply store in Portland and bought a couple of scrap pieces of stainless steel.  To make my first attempt easy, I started with the smaller piece so I didn’t have to figure out how best to cut the metal.  I made my glass piece 2’ shorter than the metal on all sides.  That was the easy part.

I knew I needed to do something with the stainless steel to make it look nice. While in general stainless steel has a nice finish, it had scratches and smudge marks.  First I sanded it to remove the scratches.  Then I used an angle grinder and started playing with flap discs of various grits trying to add an artsy finish to the stainless steel.  I still wasn’t happy with my results and so my husband suggested I try a wire brush on the angle grinder and I liked the results when I stopped trying to make things perfect and just went for truly artsy.

I had grappled for weeks with how I was going to hang the finished piece.  If I hadn’t already made the glass piece the perfect size, my husband suggested we take the top edge and fold it over forming a C and then put a hole in that which then one could use to fasten to the wall.  Maybe for a future piece.  For this one, I finally decided to cut a piece of wood about the same size as the glass, paint it black, add a keyhole with the router for hanging with a screw and then attach it to the backside of the metal.

You can see a trend in my trying to get this done.  I solve one problem only to think of another.  Now how to glue the pieces together.  I looked at epoxies, silicone, liquid nails and VHB (very high bond) tapes.  If I held the glass up to the metal, I could see that the metal was not completely flat, and I was concerned in getting everything to hold together well.  I decided I needed a little bit of a give in the attachment.  I have a silicone that is made specifically for attaching metal to wood and glass (http://www.caulkyourhome.com/ge-silicone-II-aluminum-and-metal.php) and have used on plant stakes with success so decided to go with silicone.

Side view of Glass, Metal and Wood after Attaching

Side view of Glass, Metal and Wood after Attaching

The day after I attached everything together, my husband woke up remembering that different kinds of metals can react with each other and cause what is called a galvanic reaction potentially making the stainless steel rust.  This would not be a problem if the wire brush I had used had only been used on stainless steel, but alas it had not and since it was putting small tiny scratches in the surface of my metal, it could also leave other metal pieces behind from previous uses.  Hmm, I was definitely not going to sell this piece to anyone then.  I decided to hang it in my bathroom where there is the most moisture and see if over time, it did indeed develop rust.

Next dilemma, since this might only be a temporary hang in the bathroom, I didn’t want to put a screw in the wall and would rather use a picture hanger which would only be a tiny hole in the wall.  I bent the picture hangar and chiseled some wood out of the back piece trying to make the hangar fit snug in my keyhole and have the piece lie nicely on the wall, but in the end I was concerned that it was not sturdy enough and might fall on the counter.  I fell back to traditional picture hanging and attached screw eyes into the wood back, added picture wire between them and now it is hung quite sturdily.   The good part of this whole process is that it made me realize that a customer may not want to put a screw in their wall either and so perhaps my keyhole solution was not the right choice even though it is a really sturdy option.

Back of Piece for Hanging

Back of Piece for Hanging

The lessons learned on this project are numerous and I think many still to come, but I really want to do more of these.

1.  This probably goes without saying, but think about the whole process before getting started and figure out how you are going to solve each issue.  I still consider finding the right way to hang it my biggest issue and want to try the metal bending method with my next piece.

2.  Silicone moves a lot for a few minutes after applying and attaching so perhaps next time I will try VHB with the goal of having each piece stick exactly where I place it the first time.

3.  I had tried to attach the front (glass) and back (wood) to the metal in one step and then use clamps to hold them together hoping this would make it easier to get all pieces to hold together flat.  However, I had a really hard time with the silicone still moving a little to get everything lined up and stuck where I wanted it and didn’t really succeed.  Next time, I will attach them in two steps.

4.  Understand your materials and tools meaning if I am going to continue to use stainless steel, I guess I need to purchase new grinder attachments that are labeled only for use on stainless steel.

If any of my readers have suggestions for how to hang which would be appealing to most customers, I would love to hear from you.  Thanks!

I seem to be obsessed these days with combining different materials with glass as I try to learn how to work with mixing materials.  One surprising but very exciting combination was ceramics.  Recently I started a ceramics class at Alissa Clark’s Clayworks and one day had this gestalt about what might look cool.

Fused Glass and Ceramics Plate

Fused Glass and Ceramics Plate

My next visit to her studio, I made a ceramics plate leaving the center unglazed where I would later add the glass.    For some reason I had thought that the glass would stick to the ceramics if I left the ceramics unglazed.  Why did I think this?  For kiln shelves and ceramic molds, if you don’t prime them, your glass will stick.  Right?  After getting back the fired and glazed ceramics plate, I added my inset of glass and fired the piece to 1200 degrees F.  It didn’t stick.  Hmm.

My husband likes it better this way as it is easier to clean the glass.  Positive thinking!  I had posted a question to a glass group on Facebook asking about combining glass and ceramics and several responded that it would work but would probably not be food safe as the glass would potentially crack.  In hindsight, perhaps they were thinking I would fire this hotter.

I guess this experiment needs more testing.  Alissa has offered to fire a piece in one of her ceramics kilns and take the combo of ceramics and glass up to a higher temperature than my glass kiln will fire.  I will let you know how this experiment turns out.

For now, I will just enjoy this piece I made as I really like the black and white combo of glass and ceramics!

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