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While this post may seem simple to some glass fusers, the “rule” for straight lines is one that I often need to remind myself.  Many fused glass plates/bowls are made with two sheets of 3mm glass. Sometimes it is easier for me to put the larger glass sheet on the kiln shelf and then layer the varied color pieces on top of the clear sheet. However, since I am a lover of straight (I mean really straight) lines, you accomplish this by putting those pieces for which you want to maintain the straight lines on the bottom layer as I believe the weight of the top sheet helps keep that layer from spreading and does a better job of maintaining the lines.

I forgot in the Daisy plate below and layered my yellow daisy part sheet on top along with the blue and white pieces and if you look closely you can see that the blue lines and a few others are a little wavy.

Daisies Fused Glass Plate

Daisies Fused Glass Plate

Of course, it usually takes a misstep to trigger a memory and this plate reminded me what to do for future linear pieces. In the black and white piece, the lines are much more crisp as I put them on the kiln shelf first and then layered the clear on top. Then after the first full fuse, I flipped it, sandblasted the new top and fired it to a nice matte finish.

Black and White Window Panes Fused Glass Plate

Black and White Window Panes Fused Glass Plate

The Mondrian piece below was an experiment. I was trying to figure out an easy way to get a very thin line for a small fused glass piece and decided to use black noodles which are about 5mm wide. (The right way to do this is to cut 6mm strips of black glass and lay them on their side, but thin strips are much harder to cut and I was taking a short cut.) I cut each glass piece twice once with the blue, red, yellow and white glass and then secondly with clear. I then layered the colors on the bottom on the kiln shelf separated by the black noodles and then added the clear pieces on top. I should have taken a little more time with the grinder to get each piece exact as you can see where some of the noodles had a little room to spread, but overall, I accomplished the look I wanted and this piece ended up being one of my favorite pieces. Again I flipped it after firing, sandblasted and refired with the bottom now as the top to a matte finish.

Mondrian Fused Glass Dish

Mondrian Fused Glass Dish

Simple rule to follow if you like straight lines like I do!

I saw a picture of a beautiful bowl done by Martha Calabrese showing a nice scalloped edge and had to give it a try.   In an effort to not waste glass though, I decided to try small and focused on making a sun catcher.  I will have to admit that this process is very finicky so I am not sure how often I will do scalloped edges in the future or even go bigger as I would really hate to waste a large sheet of glass.  However, it makes a really nice edge and something different, so it was well worth the adventure.

Typical of beginners luck, my first one came out great.  I cut a circle of pink opaque and then took this to my ring saw.  I wasn’t quite sure how deep to make cuts around the circle so went with 3/8” deep cuts and tried to keep them even.  I later figured out that it would be better to make myself a template to ensure I was more even both in my depth of cuts as well as distance around the circle.  I then cut a small circle of white for the center, so the center is 6mm glass and the outside edge is only 3mm. 

Base Glass Before Firing to Create Scalloped Edges

Base Glass Before Firing to Create Scalloped Edges

I then fired this to 1465 degrees F where 1460 degrees F is my typical plate fusing temperature in that specific kiln.  It came out great.  I did have some needles around the scallops which I ground with a small scrap of diamond sanding cloth and then fire polished this at the same time I fused the decal onto it at 1350 degrees F.

Fused Glass SunCatcher with Decal

Fused Glass SunCatcher with Decal

I had an extra circle of 2mm spring green transparent which I had not used and decided to try that next using the same similar technique but measuring the scallops better this time. taking the depth to 1/2″  Since this one was 2mm for the base and 3mm for the center, I took it only to 1450 degrees F, but I think this was just too hot for the 2mm glass and it did not work at all. 

Unsuccessful Attempt at Scalloped Edges

Unsuccessful Attempt at Scalloped Edges

I then made some tests using clear so I didn’t waste more colored glass and found that really the most reliable thicknesses were 3mm of both the outside and the inside glass pieces.  Further testing also proved that the best temperature for my kiln is 1460 degrees F is the base is opaque glass and 1450 degrees F is the base glass is transparent.

I also played around with depths of the cuts as I thought that I had read that Martha cut about 5/8” – 3/4”.  For my small circles, 1/2” deep cuts gave me the best results in the transparent, whereas I could get away with 3/8” cuts in opaque glass.

Here is my final sun catcher which was my goal all along as I wanted to create a special gift for someone.  This one has sea blue transparent glass as the base and cream glass for the center with a sepia decal of our local bridge fused on to it.

Fused Glass Suncatcher with Sepia Print

Fused Glass Suncatcher with Sepia Print

Lessons learned:

  1. A template worked best to ensure even depths of cut and distance around the perimeter.
  2. Opaque can fire hotter than transparent.
  3. 3mm for both layers of glass works best.

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.  Thanks!

I can tell from my readers that Crackle glass is very popular, so I wanted to start by letting everyone know that there are two great online resources to learn more about making crackle glass. The first is an ebook from Lena Beckéus called, “Glass Fusing Design Techniques with Powders on Fiber Paper” available on Amazon and the second is a new ebook from Bob Leatherbarrow called, “Introduction to Kilnformed Glass Powders: Basic Crackle Texture, Micro and Backed Wafers” available on Bob’s website.  They are both excellent reads with wonderful instructions and firing schedules.

Since I started to try to figure out crackle before either of these books was available, my technique is a modified version of both as I wasn’t measuring my powder thickness or worrying about depth of color.   However, I have come to love my method. After reading Lena’s book, I wanted to try something different and explore the options. I had always before sifted the powder onto the fiber, and then covered the powder with a sheet of glass before firing. This method truly makes the piece look like the glass has cracked.

Crackle adding Clear Sheet before First Firing

Crackle adding Clear Sheet before First Firing

After reading Lena’s book and also getting feedback from readers of this blog, I wanted to explore creating crackle where the first firing is done without adding the piece of sheet glass and then adding that glass later. I also decided  to see if I could make my “crackles” be larger or smaller by modifying the thickness of powder I put down. Time to make test samples.

For the samples, I put the powder on the fiber, sprayed with water and moved the fiber like I normally do. I then fired the powder to my normal 1410 degrees F (the book suggests higher, but I stuck with what I know). 

After Firing Just Powder

After Firing Just Powder

After the first firing, I added powder in a different color to fill in between the cracks, added a sheet of clear on top and re-fired to 1450 degrees F.

After first fire, added Powder between Cracks

After first fire, added Powder between Cracks

I discovered that the thicker the depth of powder, I ended up with more crackles closer together.  The thinner the depth of powder, the more the powder tied to pull in and hence fewer larger crackles.  You can also see that the crackle now looks like round blobs rather than “cracked” glass.

Finished Crackle Samples

Finished Crackle Samples

Last, Bob’s book has a section on powder wafers that I decided to try.  Following his instructions, I created the dragonfly and sailboat powder wafers. I read the caution that sometimes with darker colors of crackle glass, the background shows through the lighter powder sample, but I decided to go for it anyway with the sailboat. If I left this sample on a table (as in the picture), the sailboat shows okay, but using it as a night light, the sailboat does not show up well when backlit.   Something to think about next time.  I am also not sure I quite got the right process for attaching the powder wafer to the night light base as even though I added the wetted powder to the back of the wafer, I still have curled edges of the wafer, but I am okay with this look.

Crackle Glass with Powder Wafer

Crackle Glass with Powder Wafer

Interesting how you can get different looks by just varying the powder or adding decor.  If you love crackle fused glass, I strongly encourage you to get either or both of the two books mentioned at the beginning as they are a wonderful resource with lots of suggestions and options to try.

Just wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays and thank you for reading my posts and following my blog.

Have a great 2016.  Happy Fusing and Creativity!

MerryChristmas2015

Fused Glass Holiday Ornament

Fused Glass Holiday Ornament

I mentioned in my article on using stainless steel with fused glass (https://idlecreativity.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/stainless-steel-great-for-fusing-glass/) that I wanted to try using chalk to create holes as I had seen others talking about this. I decided to use a stainless steel cookie cutter for my test.

Similar to before, I put my cookie cutter on a prepared kiln shelf, cut Bullseye Thin Fire shelf paper into thin strips to line the cookie cutter and then cut small pieces of glass layering them inside the cutter.  I wish I could tell you how to calculate the exact amount of glass to fill out your mold, but I can’t.  What works for me is to do two layers of colored and clear glass and then add a third level of all clear glass on the top.

I wasn’t too concerned about the exact shape and hence I wasn’t worried that my shelf paper did not fit snugly into the corners. If you want your glass to be the exact shape, spend time to make it fit and perhaps even use some white glue to attach the paper to the cookie cutter.

Mold Set-up Using Chalk to Create Hole

Mold Set-up Using Chalk to Create Hole

I borrowed a piece of chalk from my husband and since I had the best of intentions to return it, I actually used the whole length. In hindsight, after fusing it became pretty brittle and broke off, so I highly recommend that you cut the chalk to a little higher than the depth of your piece and then you can use the remainder piece another time.  Also, make sure you line the chalk with fiber paper so the glass doesn’t stick to the chalk.

Fused Glass Ornament After Firing

Fused Glass Ornament After Firing

I fired this to a full fire at 1460 degrees F and the chalk came out quite easily. Well, it sort of disintegrated so hold it over a trash can!

Happy Holidays!

I recently bought a ceramic ruffled plate mold at a sale for $6.  What a deal!  However, when I used the mold the first time, the resulting plate did not rest flat on the table, and instead rocked driving me crazy.  I realize that not all tables and countertops are completely flat either, but this was enough of a rock that it was clearly an issue.

At first to resolve the issue, I put the plate back into the kiln and refired to only 1050 degrees F rather than 1200 degrees F but the result was less of a ruffle on the plate.  Time to figure out how to resolve the real issue.

Ruffled Christmas Plate

Ruffled Christmas Plate

My husband works with metal which is very exact and helped me figure out how to solve the problem.  Here are the steps I used.

1.  Figure out which diagonal is rocking and mark that both on the glass and the mold.  It is really important to keep track of this diagonal as you work through the issue.  The glass is rocking on this diagonal because one of the corners on the mold is not low enough for the glass to slump into.

2.  It doesn’t matter which of the two corners you work on that diagonal, as long as it is one on the problem diagonal.

3.  Use sandpaper (I used 220 grit) to sand down the ceramic mold in that corner where the glass needs to slump lower.  The goal is to sand it far enough that the two corners can slump equally.

4.  So how can you tell if you have sanded the mold far enough?  Take a small ball of clay and put it on the mold where you are sanding at the low point.

Mold with Clay Ball Placed where I Need to Sand

Mold with Clay Ball Placed where I Need to Sand

5.  Place the glass plate onto the mold and flattened the plate into the mold squishing the ball of clay.

Clay Ball Flattened Between Glass and Mold

Clay Ball Flattened Between Glass and Mold

6.  When you lift the plate, turn it over and see how thin or thick the clay is.  This thickness is how much farther you need to sand to get the mold even.  You can test this by taking the glass with the clay still attached and placing it on a known flat surface to see if it lays flat.  My plate no longer rocked with the clay so I knew this is how much farther I needed to sand.

Thickness of Clay is How Much I Need to Sand Away on the Mold

Thickness of Clay is How Much I Need to Sand Away on the Mold

7.  Sand some more and repeat the test until you get to where the clay ball thickness was miniscule.  Ultimately I learned to sand this slightly more than I thought I needed as I am guessing re-kiln washing ended up adding slightly to what I had just sanded.

8.  I then kiln washed the mold and re-slumped the plate.

Final Test Plate with Nice Ruffle and No Rocking

Final Test Plate with Nice Ruffle and No Rocking

Ultimately I did this test and re-firing twice to get it right but it does work.  And remember that many surfaces which we think are flat are indeed not flat.  My husband owns something called a Surface Plate which is designed to be flat for just such testing.

For me this was worth the effort as the rocking really bothered me.  I did have to laugh though as I later realized that many of my store-bought regular dining plates did not sit flat on the table either due to either typical manufacturing inconsistencies or tables and counters not always being flat.

I loved learning how to resolve the issue with the mold and make my glass plates better.

Recently my husband was placing an eBay order for some electronic components from China and noticed if he got to a certain amount, he got a discount. He looked to see what else was available on their store and noticed some stainless steel cookie cutters. He is always on the lookout for stainless steel for me as it works so well with kilns.  They were three small different size circles and were just a couple of dollars for all three.  Awesome!

It was hard to be completely confident that they really were 100% stainless steel, so when they arrived I fired one to 1400 degrees F to see if is flaked and it came out the same as it went in with a little less shine to the metal. Now ready to test with glass.

I decided to use each of the three rings differently. First I lined each ring with Bullseye Thin Fire. And yes, if you look closely at the picture you will notice I had the wrong side facing the glass. I was surprised, but it didn’t seem to matter.

I had made some pattern bars with one color being steel blue opalescent and I wanted to see how the pattern bar would melt, so I added one rectangular slice of the pattern bar to one of the rings. For the second ring I nipped some rods into 3/8″ pieces and set them on end with pieces of clear Tekta on top. The third ring was comprised of pieces of Tekta mixed with green and red confetti and green, red and white stringers and some small pieces of dichroic course frit for effect.

Stainless Steel Rings with Glass Before Firing

Stainless Steel Rings with Glass Before Firing

  • The glass in the smallest ring flowed all the way to the ring and came out very nice and for the purposes of testing how to use the ring worked out quite well. After some smoothing of the edges, fire polishing and a bail, it will be ready to be worn as a necklace.
  • The second mostly filled out the ring, but I wish I had added more color and covered the dichroic pieces with Tekta as they didn’t flow as well.
  • The pattern bar melt did not fill out the largest ring, but it was still a good way to contain the glass melt.
Glass after Firing in the Stainless Steel Rings

Glass after Firing in the Stainless Steel Rings

Since I have a very hard time getting circles for jewelry and wine stoppers to end up both the right size and a perfect circle, I think finding stainless steel circles the right size is the best way to go.

Over the years I have bought shaped cookie cutters and was planning to use them as templates to contain frit and then remove them before firing. However, now I that I know these circles work so well, I might give them a try for say Christmas ornaments. If you do give this a try, make sure you test your cutters first to ensure they are really stainless steel.

As a side note, I have read that using chalk with thin fire around it works well to create holes in glass, so I think a Holiday shaped cutter with chalk will be a great next test and will make a nice ornament.  Stay tuned for the results of my tests!

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