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Archive for September, 2011

I find it interesting that most places I look list the slumping temperatures for fused glass to be between 1225 degrees F and 1260 degrees F.  They also always provide the disclosure that this depends on the kiln as each kiln fires differently and you really need to get to know your kiln and keep track of what works and doesn’t work to develop your own schedules.

I originally was using the schedule that was suggested with my kiln which was 1260 degrees F and at first, it worked great.  But as my plate size increased, several large plates started to show a problem where a bubble developed in the bottom.  Since I really didn’t have a lot of knowledge yet, I thought this meant that I was either not getting it hot enough or not holding it long enough, so I tried both firing slightly higher and holding it longer, but this only seemed to make matters worse.

Bubble in center from Slumping at too hot temperature

Then I enrolled in a cold working class and mentioned this during a break and both the instructor and another student immediately piped up that I was taking it too hot.  The heat was pushing the glass down in the mold and hence then pushing the center up into a bubble.

In their opinion, you never need to go over 1180 degrees F for a slump.  And I recently slumped a large plate that was only 3mm thick rather than 6 mm thick and it has a slight start to a bubble in the center.  So I think for 3mm thick pieces, I could go to an even lower temperature like 1160.

Since I lowered my temperatures on my ceramic plate slumps to 1180 degrees F, I have had no further bubbles.  Yeah!

A side benefit is that at such low temperatures, the kiln wash does not wear off as quickly and so I can get several slumps on one application of kiln wash!

Okay, so there is always a caveat.  I labeled this as specific to plate molds as these tend to be shallower.  I have not tried a large deep dish mold yet (and do want to try one :-)), but if I use a drop out mold, coaster mold, or slump over a stainless steel form, then I need to go to a higher temperature in order for the glass to drop or slump enough into the mold.

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Straight edges or not?

I am looking for opinions today.  The analytic in me likes straight edges (and in general things parallel or even).  Therefore, most of my pieces have completely straight edges.  And if they aren’t straight after the first firing, I will take them to a lap grinder to get them straight and then refire.

Recently I have had several friends as visiting new glass artists come to my house to learn about my hobby and make one of their own plates and I have been amazed that most of them don’t like straight edges.  They want to offset their pieces or use the ragged side of the Bullseye Glass.

So I thought I would try a piece, still mostly straight edges, but layered in some places up to 4 pieces high, allowing the edges to spread in some places; and I did not straighten the sides!

Fused Glass Plate with Natural and Uneven Edges

I liked it and so did it a second time with a round piece.  Yes, I can definitely learn to not be so anal about my edges!

Another Fused Glass Plate with Uneven Edges

I still think I will tend to straighten many of my edges, but I will also enjoy those pieces to which I decide not to.

Do you prefer your edges straight or not straight?

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I thought I would start by explaining how I make one of the simplest plates and yet everyone loves them.  It involves just 2 sheets of Bullseye Glass (www.bullseyeglass.com).  The base can be any color you want, although I have found that deep royal blue (shown in picture) and garnet red look awesome and kelly green just so so.   The top layer is then a clear transparent glass with clear fractures and a rainbow iridescence.

Deep Blue Irid Fused Glass Plate

The hardest part of the piece is cutting the top piece of glass.  Because it has many irregularities on top, I score it on the bottom.  But even so, I tend to waste glass as I am trying to get a good straight cut.

But the piece fires easily and usually the edges round nicely so I only need one firing and then a slump into the mold.

As an aside, I did try using this clear fractures glass to make a jewelry piece and it just didn’t pop the way the plate does.  I think the piece is just too small.

Fused Glass Jewelry Piece with Fractured Irid Top

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This has long been coming to start a blog and it took watching a TedTalk video on Try Something New for 30 Days* to get me over the hurdle.  For those of you who don’t know me, let me introduce myself.  I began working with Fused Glass about 2 years ago.  My previous hobby was creating jewelry and so I decided to take a class making glass jewelry components.  I trekked up to South San Francisco, California to take the class from Bea Sharp (bsharpaccessories.com) and was instantly addicted.

Bea was very gracious in answering 100s of questions and not minding my many “show and tells” asking what I had done wrong so I could learn how to improve.  I also used the internet alot and while I have learned much from different websites, it is often describing the general case and not describing examples of, “I tried this and it didn’t work, but then I modified this and voila!  Success!”

I thought I would use this blog to introduce new works I create both good and bad explaining what worked, what didn’t work and any lessons learned and maybe other newbies can learn from my lessons too.

I would like to say up front that everyone in the glass industry is absolutely wonderful at their willingness to share their knowledge and answer questions.  I definitely stumbled into a wonderful hobby and a wonderful group of people.

* http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html

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