Last year, Bullseye came out with a tutorial on making a bowl out of frit balls using their opaline striker glass. I loved it and so bought the opaline course frit to give this a try. However, since opaline is more expensive than other colors, I decided to try this first using primary colors of glass.
To read Bullseye’s tutorial go here: http://www.bullseyeglass.com/methods-ideas/frit-balls.html
I am going to walk you through the steps I took and the gotchas that I faced as I will have to say, mine doesn’t quite look like theirs!
The step to make the frit balls (or dots as I like to call them) was fairly straight forward. Just lay course frit out in your kiln and take it to 1500 degrees F. And yes, you can laugh, as I was kind of anal in how I laid it out. You will get the same results if you just pour it out and make sure there is a little space around each piece. In my defense, I was trying to pick pieces that were about the same size as the jar of course frit tends to have varying sized pieces. 🙂
After my dots were fused, it was time to lay them out to make the bowl. It made sense to do this one as a square since this was a test and squares are easier to slump. I used shelf paper to avoid having to clean primer off the bottom of any of the dots. And to create my square, I using white glue to glue 4 pieces of fiber paper (like 1/8″ thick) to the shelf paper. This ended up being a really good idea as then it didn’t move on me as I was laying out the dots inside the square!
Now, I thought this step would be easy, but it was actually quite a pain! And as you can see, there were many places were a dot wouldn’t fit even though I tried to squish them all in. So my end product had a lot bigger holes than I thought it would. It is still a cool plate, but hole-y!
Okay several tidbits for you. First, there were a few dots that just did not attach and so as I lifted the fused plate, they were left behind on the shelf. Second, the balls did shrink somewhat which is why I think there were gaps. I took this to 1375 degrees F which was perhaps too hot and if I had kept it lower they would not have shrunk and they would have all kept attached.
It is more solid than I had thought it would be but still somewhat fragile. So while cleaning I knocked 2 dots off the side. So I thought, what the heck, I can just fuse again and fill in the holes with dots, using glue to attach them to another dot hoping they would then fuse together. No such luck and I tried this twice. So your best bet is to ensure that each dot is crammed next to others so that they all fuse the first time.
Still a cool test and definitely worth trying again! Perhaps not worrying about them facing up and instead just cramming them in the space even if they are overlapping! A new experiment for another day.