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Archive for July, 2012

Two weeks ago I got a little wordy talking about the first class I took, “Set Your Kiln on Fire,” so here is part 2 describing the second class I had the privilege of taking!

Fortunately, I have a very supportive husband and while I was taking the first class, he was conspiring with a friend and employee at Bullseye Glass, Devon Willis, to convince me to take a second class, Basic Kilncast Glass taught by Jim Weiler.  It was something very different for me and I really enjoyed the change.

First, I began using clay to create a sculpture making it look exactly like what I wanted my final glass piece to look like.

Clay Mold

Second, I built the mold up around the clay (with a little help from Jim :-)) and let it harden.

Mold around My Clay (definitely not beautiful!)

After the mold material hardened, I turned it over and gently removed the clay to create a cavity to which I could add glass.  Sorry, I forgot to take an intermediate picture, but for this project we added glass billets which are very large chunks of glass.  The benefit of using the billets is less bubbles for a very nice final piece of glass.

Mold Cavity after Clay is Removed

And last, after adding the glass billets (oh and calculating exactly how much glass I would need for my exact piece of glass), I waited for many hours as a piece like this takes approximately 30 hours in the kiln.  When it was cool, I carefully removed the mold material and disposed of it as it is not reusable, did some clean up around the details of the glass and even some coldworking to smooth the edges and voila, my final piece!

Glass Casting which looks exactly like original Clay Sculpture

I actually like the glass cast from the reverse side as it shows the depth when you hold it up to the light.  Totally cool and a truly great experience to try something like this.

Final Glass Casting

Thanks, Bullseye, for yet another wonderful class!

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As with any craft, basically anything goes.  But usually when fusing glass, people work very hard to eliminate bubbles.  Some bubbles are just natural to the glass craft and so a bubble free piece is nearly impossible, but typically this is the goal.

No longer!  Now there are glasses, paints and techniques all to help add bubbles to your piece.

I decided to experiment with the Bullseye reeded and prismatic glasses to see how easy or hard it was to create some geometric bubbles and it ended up being extremely easy.

Test one was with the reeded glass which is basically a sheet of clear glass with some raised glass strips.  The reeded glass has smaller strips than the prismatic glass (see photo below).  I cut two equal sized 6″ squares and then laid the bottom one reeds up and the top one reeds down 90 degrees rotated so I would trap the air bubbles in each square of overlap of the glass.  I then used 1mm purple stringers for color, cut to about 6.25″ length for a little overlap over the outside edges.

Test two was with the prismatic glass laid out exactly the same as above but with 2mm blue stringers cut to 6.5″ for more overlap.

Conclusions:

  1. It was much easier than I thought to use this glass and get the desired effect!  It just worked with only cutting, cleaning and placing correctly in the kiln on my part.
  2. I fired one version in a glass kiln (elements on top) and another in a ceramic kiln (elements on the side) to see if it would have any effect and it did not.  So either works fine for this end result.
  3. I like the 1mm stringers better as the 2mm ones seem to wobble a little and didn’t stay as straight.  I thought the 1mm would be too thin of a profile on the prismatic glass, but it would have been just fine.
  4. I left a little overlap for each stringer on the first test but as they melted and pulled it, they no longer went to the edges of the plate.  So I ground down the edges of the plate and re-fired.  Therefore on test two, I left more overlap to ensure that as the stringers pulled in, they went all the way to the edge of the plate.
  5. You can easily do the crossed stringers in one fusing by carefully laying them out and using Glastic glue to hold in place.  For the first test, I did the stringers in two passes thinking this was necessary, but for the second one I added all the stringers in the first fuse and it worked fine.

Bullseye Clear Reeded (Left) and Prismatic (Right) Glass Sheets Before Firing

Bullseye Reeded Fused Glass Plate (available in my Etsy Store)

Bullseye Prismatic Fused Glass Plate (available in my Etsy Store)

You too can easily make these plates.  I think my next test will be to use this bubble effect with a colored glass border around it.  The border shouldn’t have any impact on the bubbles, but you never know.

Do you like the bubbles?

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Taking classes from Bullseye is always a special treat. First, you get to learn from the experts. Second, you get to meet many of the people who work there and ask any and all questions that you have stashed in your brain waiting to ask the experts. Third, you get to meet many other very creative students who are also eager to learn and explore. And fourth, you are at the factory and can see how they actually make all of the wonderful glass and maybe buy some too.

This summer I was treated to not only one awesome class, but two. My first class was my all time favorite because well, it was totally cool to do and will add interesting effects to my glass. The class was called “Set Your Kiln on Fire,” was taught by Bonnie Celeste who is awesome at torch work, and basically involves using a torch and glass rods to create interesting components that you can then marry into your glass pieces.

I have played using a candle to do some elemental work with stringers, and we actually have a hand torch which I should have tried to use on the rods. But fear took over and yes, basically I was intimidated. So bonus number one was finding out just how easy the oxygen and propane torches were to use. We used the Micro Burner by Nortel torches in class.

Okay, reality check. Easy does not mean my components looked like Bonnie’s! But it did mean that it was easy for me to grok the process of turning it on, trying not to cause thermal shock of my glass rod, and then allowing the glass to “gather” as it melts and … We learned how to:

  • Pull stringers
  • Drop dots and droplets
  • Create leaves and subsequently when you didn’t get a leaf you got a balloon – Cool!
  • Pull nodes which is hard to describe but if you think of kelp made out of glass, then you got it
  • Form twists multiple ways
  • And last, create cased stringers

The following is a sample plate I made in the class which illustrates the results of many of these techniques. Did I already say what an awesome class this was!

Sample Plate – Black Torch Worked Components on a Vanilla Base

And a finished piece using some of the components I made. Bonus number two was that I got to bring home all of the extra components I made, some good, some not so good, but I will definitely find a use for all of them!

Finished Plate using Torch Worked Components

Oh, and just because, I will throw in a picture of me at the torch.

Me at the Torch in Class

While the purpose of this blog is to help you learn what I learn and to describe all the mistakes from which I gain value along the way, unfortunately, there really is no way for me to describe all the value I got out of the class. If it is time for you to have a treat, definitely treat yourself to this class the next time it is taught and tell Bonnie I said Hi!

Have you taken any classes lately (doesn’t have to be glass related)? What value did you gain? Please share.

P.S.  I gushed too much about this first class, so stay tuned for the next blog on the second class so as not to have this one go on forever!

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I love it when people offer me suggestions and ideas because let’s face it, we can’t each always think of all the good ideas.  Recently, a repeat customer of mine suggested I make fused glass picture frames, but rather than compete with all the rest out there, he thought baby frames were needed and would be very popular.

Since I love to try new things, I decided to give it a try and I just had to start with a rubber ducky frame.  To make it viable for both a little girl or boy, I chose mint green and white for the frame.

My first step was to create the components meaning I shaped the duck and the bow and fused their parts together.  However, since they were larger than the frame itself, it seemed like they may have a weak point where they were not on top of the frame.  My husband had a great suggestion to fuse an additional layer of glass on the back at the weak points and then attach that to the frame.  So the duck and bow went back into the kiln where I added clear to the sections that would not be on top of the frame.  You can see in the pictures how I did the bow: (1) I shaped a piece of clear glass to match the bow shape but only where it would be hanging off the frame and then (2) I used fiber paper so that the bow itself would stay flat while I was fusing the clear to the piece of the bow.

Clear Glass to Get Fused to Back of Piece of the Bow

Bow on Top of Clear Piece from Previous Picture to Fuse Them Together

After making the frame separately fusing the white and mint onto clear pieces so it would have enough weight and stability, I then fused the duck and bow onto the frame.  In this photo, I have turned the frame upside down so you can see how the duck was attached and the extra clear piece was fused to the corner of the frame.

Back of Frame Showing Yellow Duck on top of Clear Fused to the Frame Itself

Last step was to glue the fused glass frame to a metal picture frame with epoxy.

And now for the final frame picture!

Fused Glass Baby Picture Frame (available in my Etsy Store)

It was a great new project and an interesting challenge, so thanks Mark for the great suggestion.  Perhaps more frames will be forthcoming.  Any other suggestions out there?  I would love to hear them.

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