You may remember awhile I ago I talked about a fused glass melt I had created using a Sur La Table grill pan.
As is typical for me, I looked at that piece of glass for months before deciding what colors with which to marry it and how to architect the piece. In the end, I decided to try my hand at a technique called strip construction.
I first read about strip construction on the website of a veteran glass expert, Steve Immerman. He has beautiful work and writes excellent tutorials. Thanks, Steve!
For those of you not expecting to do this but wanting to understand the basics, you cut your glass into thin strips, typically 3/8″ thick and then rather than laying them flat in the normal fashion where they are 1/8″ thick, you actually stand them on end. Because what you just cut (3/8″ thick) is greater than the glass “properties law” that glass wants to get to 1/4″ thickness, you need to create a dam around your piece to keep it at that thickness.
Well, I was a little lazy because my melt was 1/4″ thick already, so instead of trying to figure out how to use 3/8″ thick strips and get the melt to match, I cut my strips to 1/4″ thickness, but I still needed to dam the project using pieces of kiln shelf as the dams with fiber between the glass and the damn.
What did I learn:
1) Cutting strips evenly and thin is hard and tedious so be prepared to make more than you need because well, they don’t all work out.
2) When the strips fuse, you can see the lines of each strip. What I didn’t realize was that the lines on top of the piece are much more fluid and so they don’t stay very straight. The lines on the bottom do, so I guess people usually end up using the bottom as the top – which I did as well. I was lucky that melts tend to have very different looking tops and bottoms, but usually both sides are cool. So the end result is still nice, just not what I had originally planned.
3) Usually when I see someone else’s strip construction piece, they have outlined their focal piece with strips that are perpendicular to all the other strips. I thought this was just a design choice. Now I think this has a purpose to make all the strips appear to be very even when they truncate at the focal piece. As you can see, mine are jagged looking since I did not include these perpendicular strips. Note to self to add these pieces next time.
4) It probably would have been better to use 3/8″ strips as they are easier to cut and get even. Since my strips were not very even, I ended up with a very wavy edge where the strips ended on each side. It wasn’t that hard to cold work the edges and get rid of the waves, but doing it right the first time might have saved me this step and an extra firing. (See interim pictures above as I took these before I cold worked the piece.)
While these were interesting lessons learned, completed strip construction pieces are very eye catching and elegant and something I will definitely try again!
Usually I point you to Etsy where my pieces are for sale. This one I am keeping!
NOTE: I learn much of what I know from reading other websites and blogs and hence, I haven’t really invented anything new here. But I am sharing what I found to work and not work. If you have found other ways to do something similar to this, please share!