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Archive for April, 2012

Last year, I had tried to be creative for Christmas and create a piece using irregular edges. I was so excited to see it when it came out of the kiln and alas, it had a great big crack in it. I wrote Stacy Smith (one of my favorite glass people!) at Bullseye and after answering many questions because she was going to have to assess via mail rather than seeing it in person, Stacy wrote me that I had too many disparate layers and this makes it hard for the glass to heat up and cool evenly. She suggested that I try it again and take the ramp up and the ramp down very slowly.

Short description of this piece:  In the center it was 5mm thick (2 sheets – one 2mm and the other 3mm). The edges were then laid down so that they would overlap the sides but not be completely on the center section, so the sides ranged from 3mm to 8mm. And since I also overlapped the corners, in some places the corners were actually 11 mm thick.

Fused Glass Plate with a Crack from top to bottom

As a side note, if you want to know whether your glass cracked on the way up or down, look at the crack. If it has smooth edges like this one does, then it cracked on the way up because the edges softened when it hit the peak temperature. If it cracked on the way down either during annealing or after, it would be a sharp crack.

Took me awhile to get around to Try 2, but I made another one earlier this week and this time, while I did some overlap as before, I tried to have less variation in thicknesses ranging from 3mm to 8mm. And instead of using a normal fusing schedule, I took this one very slowly ramping at 150 degrees per hour up to 1225 degrees and held for 1.5 hours, then 250 degrees per hour (to get through the devitrification range quicker) to 1410 degrees and then annealed it on the way down for 2 hours. If I had added more thickness to my piece, I would have actually annealed the piece for 3 hours. This time no crack!

Fused Glass Plate with Varying Thicknesses and Fired Slowly

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I have done some painting on glass before and love the way I can make it look like a watercolor.  But recently at the Las Vegas Glass Expo, I noticed that the colors seemed bolder on some of Glassline’s samples.  They explained this is for 2 reasons:  1) there pieces were uncapped versus mine which I had been capping with clear glass and 2) a white base tends to bring out the colors more than a clear base.  The first picture below is a clear base capped with clear.   The second picture below is on a white base and not capped and what a difference in the green and blue colors.

Painted Fused Glass on Clear Base and Capped with Clear

Painted Fused Glass on White Base and Uncapped

Here are some other interesting things I learned from this experiment.

  1. It is best if you take the uncapped, painted piece to full fused temperature to really get the boldest colors.
  2. You can brush, sponge or even air brush the paint on, but try not to get too thick as this tends to lead to cracking.
  3. Some web sites indicate that you should do a tack fire before a full fire to ensure it doesn’t crack.  I asked Glassline about this at the Glass Show and they indicated this is the result of too thick of a coat and there is really no need for a tack fuse first.
  4. Always ensure that it dries completely before firing especially if capping.   It actually dries pretty quickly, but if you can’t wait, then use a hair dryer.

In the piece below, you can see some bubbles at the stems of the flowers because it was the last thing I painted and didn’t wait long enough for it to dry before firing.

Painted Fused Glass with Bubbles because Paint Not Dry when Fired

Last, in the picture below, you can see the piece above after it has dried and before fired.  Do not panic that the paint color seems so muted when it dries as it then go back to the wet paint color when it is fired.

Painted Fused Glass before Firing (colors lighten when dry)

Materials:

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My New Year’s resolution was to continually try new things with my fused glass.  Little did I know that this would extend to other things thanks to my husband’s desire to try new things regardless of the medium.

Recently we began the task of redoing our powder room, aka small bathroom.  I am not sure how room designs normally start, but ours began with the sink.  It was a glass vessel sink that was on sale for a ridiculously low price and it was very cool!  The sink was back painted with black, deep red and yellow.  Our design had begun. We used some leftover yellow paint from another room on the walls.

However, we didn’t want this to be a huge undertaking so we kept the tile floor and really wanted to keep the light fixture to reduce the drywall work.  The problem was that the light fixture was a light bar with a sort of pink marble bar – definitely not fitting in.  So we decided to create our own bar by back painting a sheet of glass to match the sink.

We learned quickly the issues with cutting circles in glass as you need the sharpest diamond tools and since we needed 8 holes, we kept having to buy new tools to keep them sharp and if you couldn’t tell the tool was losing its sharpness, you would crack the glass.   Eventually we gave up and bought the glass pre-drilled from a local glass show.

The painting though turned out to be alot of fun.   We used some of the old broken glass to test our painting skills and do some color matching.  After getting the right colors, my husband actually did the painting and well, I was the advice person.  🙂   Check it out!

Back Painted Glass Vessel Sink

Back Painted Glass Light Bar

Remodeled Bathroom Showing Sink and Painted Light Bar

I would have never thought to do this ourselves, but I am so glad my husband wanted to experiment and it turned out great.

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This weekend I traveled to Las Vegas for the Glass Craft and Bead Expo.  My husband taught me the first time we came three years ago that I would get out of the show what I put into it and so each year I ask many, many questions of the vendors here.  It is amazing how much I learn from every single encounter and this year was no exception!

Glass Craft and Bead Expo 2012

Here are a few of the things that I learned which are quite valuable to me and hopefully you too!

1.  I love using Colour de Verre molds to make glass boxes, candles, and leaves and flowers for adding to plates.  My presents last Christmas were candles and for logistic reasons I started making them in my tall Skutt 714 kiln, a ceramics kiln because the elements are on the sides rather than the top.  As time ran out, I doubled up and used a second kiln, aSkutt Firebox 14 which is a glass kiln with the elements on the top.  However, the candles were just not coming out as nicely on their sides in this second kiln.  I had bought additional molds to use for doubling up and thought perhaps I had not prepared them right or was doing something else wrong.  Craig and Larry from Colour de Verre enlightened me here at the show that these molds actually do much better in the side firing kilns because they can heat more evenly throughout the mold rather than baking from the top.  Guess I know which kiln I will be using in the future to make candles and boxes!

2.  A month ago I talked about my experiments with mica powder and ginkgo leaves and my never ending bubbles.  I was talking with David Alcala who was showing an interesting product called Flexi-Glass and he indicated that after he adds stringers or mica onto a piece, rather than capping with a sheet of clear glass, he adds clear medium or course frit to the top so any moisture can escape.  Wow, such a simple idea and yet I would have never thought of that on my own.  Can’t wait to get home and try this out.

3.  Last year, we bought a sandblasting cabinet, but I have yet to actually use it.  It was on my list to figure out and so before coming to the show I was researching what I needed.  For some reason after investigating on the web, I thought I was going to have to buy a different blast gun with a very small nozzle as this was best for glass work.  But very quickly into my conversation with someone, he asked me if I was trying to etch glass or surface blasting to remove any imperfections and when I answered the latter, he indicated that I had everything I needed.  I didn’t want a small nozzle gun which was concentrated on a small area as I wanted to actually blast evenly across the entire plate.  I had not understood this distinction in my research.  So yeah, I am now ready to give my sandblasting cabinet a try – maybe next weekend.

All in all a great show for me.  Lots of knowledgeable people to talk to and learn from and lots of finished pieces as samples to ooh and ahh over as well!

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