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!
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!