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Archive for May, 2012

You know how you know something that is just fundamental to what you do.  And then you forget to think and do the math and alas, whatever happens is your own fault.  I know that fused glass likes to conform to 6mm or 1/4″ and I think I have even mentioned this in a blog before.  If you fuse a piece that is less than this thickness, it tends to pull in on the sides as it is trying to get to that magic thickness.  If you fuse a piece that is greater than this thickness, it then rounds itself out a little as it melts down to reach that magic thickness.

I recently made a piece in which I first created a part sheet out of Bullseye stringers on a piece of 3mm clear and then wanted to combine this with other sheets of glass.  So the part sheet went in the middle and then I added 3mm pieces on either side of the striped part sheet.  But the part sheet seemed to be about 2mm higher, so I decided to add clear 2mm on top of the other colors to get everything to the same thickness.

Okay, do the math.  3mm + 2mm does not equal 6mm!!!  Yes, I know the rule.  When I pulled the piece out of the kiln, you can see where the pieces pulled in on either side of the part sheet to try to reach that magic 6mm thickness.  (Sorry, but I forgot to take the picture until after I started to cut it up and did so quickly.   You can still see where the crack was on either side, the crack on the right side being much longer. And you can tell I did some editing to make the photo better – sorry.)

Yellow Striped Fused Glass Plate with Holes Along Seams

Since I had another part sheet, I tried again and this time did the math.  I added an additional 3mm clear sheet across the entire piece:  3mm + 2mm + 3mm equals 8mm, which resulted in some rounding (you can see this slight rounding in the picture) and needed to sand the edges to get it back to a rectangle again.  I could have used a 2mm clear sheet, but the 3mm piece was already cut when I did the math.

Red Striped Fused Glass Plate with a Little Bowing on Each Side

To try to save the first piece, I cut the piece apart into 3 pieces along where the cracks were, sanded them flat and then reassembled, added a 2mm sheet of clear under the entire piece, and refired.  Not bad for a fix-up.

Fixed up Yellow Striped Fused Glass Plate (available in my store on Etsy)

Of course, I have to end here with a completed piece, so here is the final red striped plate!

Completed Red Striped Fused Glass Plate (available in my shop on Etsy)

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Personal preferences play a huge role in our lives.  It impacts what we actually see when we look at something in nature or even a person we pass on the street.  We quickly form judgments on what we like and dislike based on our personal preferences.    We use our personal preferences everyday as with the objects we choose to surround ourselves because they make us feel good and sometimes even elicit a smile.

Just as with paint finishes and stains, we can choose gloss finishes or satin or matte finishes, glass can be made to have different finishes.  My husband prefers the pieces that have a matte finish;  I believe because most glass pieces are shiny and he tends to like things in life that are different from the norm.  Each finish has its benefits and so with each piece you make you get to decide which best exemplifies the features of the piece.

There are several ways to get a matte finish on your piece.  If you know in the beginning that you want a matte finish, you can always fire the piece with the colors against the kiln shelf (this side will later become the top) as it will then pick up the texture of the shelf and leave a matte finish.  Below are two pieces using the same glass (black with silver iridescence).  The first one was fired with the black side facing down, the second with the black side facing up.  It is a little hard to see in the pictures, but there is a big difference in how the glass looks.

Black with Silver Iridescence with Matte Finish (available on Etsy)

Same Black with Silver Iridescence Glass but with Gloss Finish (available on Etsy)

However, if you don’t know in the beginning, you can fire with the colors up to get the glossy finish and then after seeing it, add a matte finish by sanding or sandblasting the top.  Then after slumping at approximately 1200 degrees F, you will end up with a nice matte finish.  This can work well for jewelry pieces as well.

Jewelry Piece with Matte Finish (available on Etsy)

Similar Jewelry Piece with Glossy Finish (available on Etsy)

And last, one additional piece with a matte finish that just makes the colors pop!  What’s your preference, glossy or matte or both?

Fused Glass Plate with a Matte Finish (available on Etsy)

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I have to admit that my first instinct to using a new tool is fear.  I read many blogs and articles and Facebook entries of artists doing something new for the first time and never hear even a hint in their words of fear which makes me quite jealous.  But in my defense, I have been trying to push myself to accept my fears, and then move beyond them and be willing to give everything a try.

Over a year ago we had bought a sandblaster and while I really wanted to use it, it seemed overwhelming to figure out all the things I needed to be able to do it correctly.  I kept reading articles searching for the perfect answer, but then would get more overwhelmed and would once again put it on the back burner.  Luckily, two recent events removed the hurdles and propelled me forward.

First I read a post of another glass artist (Jill Matthew Glass) who had used a sandblaster and I got up the courage to ask some questions.  She told me which blast material and grade she used which had long been a confusion for me.  And second at the recent Glass Expo, I was talking to different vendors, and one vendor asked me what now seems like a simple question:  Was I going to etch the glass or just blast away to get a smooth surface for refiring?  Since my primary goal was the latter, I actually learned that the nozzle I owned was exactly what I needed.

Much of what I had found on the net was aimed at people who planned to etch into glass which has finer requirements.   For those of us just wanting to blast away the glass to get a new surface for re-firing, I needed 120 grit Aluminum Oxide with a wide ceramic nozzle to blast away a large area at one time.  Most blast cabinets like mine from Harbor Freight Tools automatically come with a wide nozzle on the blast gun.  With my husband’s help, we put the cabinet on a cart so it could be portable, connected up the air compressor  and a vacuum with a high filter bad and I was set to go.  I have no idea why I was afraid as it is so very simple to do and has exactly the results I needed.

I got so inspired when sandblasting the other day that I resurrected many personally deemed failed projects, sandblasted each of them and will now try to make them successes by re-firing or perhaps adding to another piece.  Below is one such piece.

Fused Glass Plate after Sandblasting and Refiring (See plate in My Store)

Now I am starting to get the itch to try etching glass!  Have you tried this?  Do you think it is just as easy?

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I get asked a lot by non-glass making friends about basic glass layout.  Recently I had this desire to make a ruffled plate, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to explain two basic glass layouts and show off my ruffled plate.

Quick technical detail about fusing glass: When fusing glass, it naturally wants to fuse to 1/4″  (6mm) thick. The easiest then for a glass fuser is to layer 2 sheets of 1/8″  (3mm) thick glass together which will keep their shape and fuse together nicely.  If you have less than 1/4″ (6mm) stacked when you fire, it will pull in slightly as it is trying to acquire its 1/4″  (6mm) thickness and conversely if you have 3 layers of glass equal to 3/8″ (9mm) thick, it will bow out slightly on the sides as it spreads to get to 1/4″ (6mm) thickness.

To get a straight edge on a plate, often you will lay your colored pieces down on the prepared kiln shelf and then place a sheet of clear on top making the clear about 1/8″ larger so that it overlaps the edges of the colors just slightly.  Then when you take your glass to a full fuse, the clear will fuse down over the edges of the color and leave a nice straight and glossy edge.

Also having the clear on top gives a depth to the piece of glass.

Fused Glass Plate with Clear Glass Fused on Top (see in My Store)

If however, you want ruffles like I decided I wanted to try, you should lay your clear down first onto the prepared shelf.  Then place your colored pieces on top and have them actually be slightly larger than the clear.  When they fuse, they will fuse down over the edge of the clear piece and leave a nice glossy edge.  But where each piece meets, it will come in slightly (since that overlap isn’t actually 1/4″ (6mm) thick at that point) and so you will have a slight ruffle (or indentation) where the two pieces meet.

By having the colors on top especially opaque colors, you don’t get the depth you might see with the clear on top, but I think you get more vividness to the specific opaque colors.  See if you tell the difference!  Click on the picture to make it bigger and show the ruffles better.

Fused Glass Plate with Clear on Bottom and Green and White Tiles Overlapping (See in My Store)

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