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Archive for October, 2013

This week was a banner week for new attempts.  I will describe one this week and the other next week after a little more experimentation.

I have seen glass artists attempting various new methods using powders or paints to create patterns and then marrying these with other glass to make a collage of sorts.  There look to be many wonderful classes out there teaching how to do this, however right now I am not in a position to go to any of these classes, so I decided to figure out this technique or at least something similar on my own.

I have to admit that my first attempt was actually last year.   I used glass paint to create some abstract pictures and then layered the different pieces of glass one on top of another and fired.  It came out awful, so awful that I didn’t take a picture and have no idea where the final result is.  First, because it was just a test, I started small at 4 inches square and I think I just did too much in such a small space.  Second, I should have planned better as the colors didn’t go well together.

For this new attempt, I spent more time planning and thinking about colors and patterns and decided to use powder instead.  First I made four part sheets using blues and pinks with different patterns.  I was lazy with the patterns as I basically just used what patterns I already had lying around.  In the end, I was lucky as they ended up working well together.

My four sheets were made using (you can see them in the picture below):

  • Zig zags in Adventurine Blue Transparent (Bullseye 1140-0008)
  • Octagons in Egyptian Blue Opal (Bullseye 0164-0008)
  • Cherry Blossoms in Sunset Coral Transparent (Bullseye 1305-0008)
  • Flowers in Salmon Pink Opal (Bullseye 0305-0008)
Four Part Sheets In Kiln Ready for Firing

Four Part Sheets In Kiln Ready for Firing

A few lessons learned on the part sheets:

  1. When using powder, you need to use a pretty heavy coat so that it actually shows up on the glass especially if it is a lighter transparent color.  Of course, if you are trying to create a shading effect, you would use less in some areas, but for my purposes I tried to make sure I sifted a good thick coat onto the template.
  2. When using templates, before you begin, figure out how you can remove the template without moving the powder.  I forgot on the octagons which was my first of the four and so I had some powder shifting as I tried to remove the template.  Therefore, for the next one, I remembered to add some blue tape handles to make it easier to remove the template.  You still have to be careful, but less so with handles.  See the picture below of my template with handles.
  3. You will not want to use the edges of the fused part sheet as they will tend to pull in and not be a consistent height of glass since you are fusing a single layer, so make sure you make your part sheet big enough.  I wanted all four sheets to fit within one kiln cycle and so made my sheets 6 inches, but this did restrict me later.  Side Note:  Do not throw the edges away as these would make great pieces for jewelry.
Part Sheet Ready with Handles Before Sifting Powder onto It

Part Sheet Ready with Handles Before Sifting Powder onto It

After my part sheets were done, I cut off the edges, picked complementary colors of glass, and began to assemble my masterpiece.  Since I wanted to get a dimensional look, I knew I wanted to have multiple layers and to vary in which layers the part sheets were used, so I ended up with 3 layers which meant I needed to damn the piece in the kiln to make sure it didn’t spread off the shelf.

Part Sheets Combined with Other Glass, Ready for Firing

Part Sheets Combined with Other Glass, Ready for Firing

Here is my next lesson learned.  I had made my part sheets out of 2mm clear.  But most of the rest of the glass I own is 3mm.  I did have some pinks and purples in 2mm, but not everything was.  So while I tried to keep my layers consistent, there was a little variation in a few places, so I had to fire the piece very slowly, anneal it for a longer time, and then I noticed that the edges of the fired piece was not completely level.  So after sanding the edges to make them straight, I am now refiring the piece to a higher temperature hoping it will level out.

My lesson still-needing-to-be-learned has to do with layering the glass using clear in many places.  I tried to have as few pieces as possible, but I basically used clear to get the depth perception I wanted but didn’t want to add a piece of colored glass.  However, as you can see in the above picture, there are places where you can see the lines between the clear pieces.  I was hoping when it fused you would not be able to see these lines, but alas you can see some of them.  In many of the places it adds to the color shifts, but I would still prefer to know how to not have these lines show.  Something to explore for the future.

Piece after First Fuse

Piece after First Fuse

Overall, I really like the end result!  The colors and patterns worked well together.  I might have made it a bit too big, but I was trying not to overlap the patterns too much and it just sort of grew in size.  It is 9 inches by 12 inches will make a great centerpiece or serving platter.  I may not have made mine like the pros, but I had fun working out the process and got a result I really liked.

I will post a final picture when the completed plate is well – completed.

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The analytical side of me still prevails in many of the fused glass pieces I make as is evident with my new favorite using thin straight line pieces of glass.  So I decided to break the mold (not literally of course) and go with the flow – literally!

I began with a single circle of 3mm clear Bullseye glass.  I then randomly added pieces of different colors of glass trying to stay with the lighter transparent colors.   I put some along the edges and also did some overlapping to try to create different shades of color.  I was a little afraid that I didn’t have enough glass so I added some clear pieces on top as well although I wasn’t very careful about making sure I had an even amount of glass all over.

Because of the inconsistent levels of glass I knew I needed to be very careful with my fusing schedule to prevent thermal shock.  Therefore, I fired this very slowly up to full temperature and then annealed it extra long as well.  My schedule was:

Segment Ramp(Degrees/Hour) TargetTemperature Hold(Minutes)
1 250 1050 1.5 hrs
2 125 1225 1.5 hrs
3 125 1470 10
4 FULL 900 3 hrs
5 75 800 10
6 100 700 10

In addition, because I was nervous about how much the glass would spread, I dammed around it.  I didn’t have a large enough circle dam, so I just made sure I would not fall off the kiln shelf.  You can see my setup in the following picture.

Kiln Setup

Kiln Setup

It worked quite well.  I ended with lots of different colors and because I had put some pieces along the edges, I ended up with some gentle bulges which added to the nice “go with the flow” idea of this plate.

After Initial Fusing

After Initial Fusing

I then used two different molds for this plate to create the final product.  The molds were the Infinity Series spiral texture plate and wave form slumping mold from Fuse Master.

Watercolors Fused Glass Bowl (available in my Etsy Store)

Watercolors Fused Glass Bowl (available in my Etsy Store)

I have since seen pictures from different classes where they are more strategic in where they place the glass pieces trying to create a more purposeful flow of the colors.  Definitely something to try next time.  But don’t be afraid to just let it all go and embrace randomness!

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Several friends have been posting pictures on Facebook of stores who already have their Christmas decorations proudly displayed.  It seems like the “let’s decorate” date keeps moving up in time each year.  Searches for christmas decorations and ornaments in my Etsy store and on my WordPress blog are also increasing daily.

In the Etsy forums they have started to gear artists up with their annual Holiday Boot Camp encouraging artists to get prepared with their materials for creating, packaging for shipping and so forth.  I have also noticed some stores having Christmas in July sales.  So one might ponder when is really the right time to start to display your holiday wares?

Of course, I ask this question rhetorically because I honestly don’t know the answer, but what I do know is that if people are searching my blog and my store right now looking for holiday decorations, then now must be the right time for me!

Last year I wrote a blog on making some ornaments and gift tags:  https://idlecreativity.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/fused-glass-christmas-ornaments-and-gift-tags/.  This year, I made a couple of additional types.

Blue Snowflake Ornament

I started with the Colour de Verre snowflake mold using both clear fine frit and different colors of blue fine fit.  In my 8″ kiln, the perfect temperature for firing these snowflakes is 1325 degrees F.

I cut 3 inch circles out of white glass and drilled the hole for the ribbon before firing so that the edges of the hole would have a chance to soften during the kiln firing.  When drilling holes, I use either my Dremel drill or a drill press.  Bullseye taught me about the perfect bits for drilling holes which are called Triple Ripple Diamond Drills available from HisGlassworks.  I used the 2.1mm size which is the same size I use for drilling holes in pendants.

After drilling the hole, I contour the hole by drilling with a Flame tip, 1/8 inch shank sintered diamond bit.  This gives the hole a nice sloping edge.

Last I added the snowflakes onto the white circle and fired them together at 1325 degrees to soften the edges of the disk, tack fire the snowflakes to the disk and ensure that I didn’t lose the sparkle of the snowflakes.

Winter Wonderland Snowflake 1 (available in my Etsy Store)

Winter Wonderland Snowflake Ornament (available in my Etsy Store)

Blue Snowflake Holiday Ornament (available in my Etsy Store)

Blue Snowflake Holiday Ornament (available in my Etsy Store)

Star Ornament

I wanted to try to combine wire with glass, so decided to try a simple star or spoke ornament.  I also wasn’t sure how stacking 4 pieces of glass would work, so decided to try this one in two separate kiln fires.  For the first firing at 1410 degrees F, I made 2 separate crosses and sprinkled one with red fine fit and the other with green fine fit.  I was hoping that the center section would fuse flat but that I would not take the kiln so hot that the glass would pull in trying to get to 1/4 inches.  (Remember the 1/4″ glass rule?  If not, read here.)

Even though the center did not completely fuse flat, I was able to stack one cross on top of the other and then fuse them together again using 1410 degrees F in the kiln.  Last I found some great red 20 gauge wire and wrapped it around the glass to make the holder and add some zing!  Very fun.

Green and Red Holiday Ornament (available in my Etsy Store)

Green and Red Holiday Ornament (available in my Etsy Store)

Guess seeing and making decorations really does get you in the holiday spirit.  No wonder stores bring the decorations out earlier each year.  Let the selling begin!

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Earlier this year I acquired a new glass cutter and I realized that I now have several methods of cutting straight edges, so thought I would share what works best for me.

Carpenter Square

Starting with the cheapest tool to acquire is my metal carpenter square.  When cutting my full-size Bullseye sheets of glass, I need something large enough to cut across the width of these sheets of glass.  The carpenter square is perfect for this as it is 24 inches on one side.  I just score along the square and then break the glass either over the edge of a table or the edge of several pieces of cardboard or using my running pliers.

As this was originally my one and only tool, I used this for all straight edges.  I would line the one edge up on the straight edge of a piece of glass and cut on the inside of the other edge.  The downside is that the square can easily move while cutting so it is less of a sure thing with each cut.

Carpenter Square

Carpenter Square

Bohle Silberschnitt Workspace

The next tool was my first glass cutting straight edge tool which I bought at the Bullseye Resource Center.   It is called the Bohle Silberschnitt Workspace (http://www.bohleamerica.com/shop/Manual-Glass-Cutting/Strip-and-Speed-Cutters/SILBERSCHNITT-reg%3B-Roll-up-Workplace::62.html) and includes a rubber mat with a metal guide along one side which the glass cutter rides in as it cuts.  You can cut your glass from about 3/8 inches up to 12 inches wide.  This is now my workhorse tool for straight edges.   It is also my go-to tool when I know I want all pieces to be cut exactly the same size as I set the ruler to say 4 inches and then cut all pieces without changing it so that all pieces comes out exactly the same size.

The cutting edge is very nice and it is very easy to position my glass and cut.  I see that they sell replacement blades, but I have been using the original for several years now and it still works great.  I do dip the tool in cutting oil every few cuts though and also need to clean out the guide part of debris every once in a while to keep it moving along the guide smoothly.

Bohle Silberschnitt Workspace

Beetle Bits Cutting System

My latest purchase this last spring at the Las Vegas Glass Convention was the Beetle Bits Cutting System.  I had debated whether I really needed it, but liked the way it made it easier to cut angles.  I was also having a hard time with the Bohle cutting my thinner strips of glass such that they scored and broke easily and cleanly.   So I went ahead and purchased the Beetle Bits this year and it works like a charm.  It is a little cumbersome to get larger pieces of glass under the cutting arm, so I tend to go back to my Bohle workhorse for just normal straight-line cuts.  But for cutting strips that are thin like 3/8 inches or cutting triangles and other angles, this tool is awesome!

Beetle Bits Cutting System

Beetle Bits Cutting System

For cutting the strips, I actually score several at a time.  Using 1/2 inch as my sample, I score the first line 1/2 inches from the edge.  I then move the glass over so that my score line is now on 1/2 inch on the ruler and score the next line.  I do this for as many strips as I want out of that one sheet of glass.  Then using the running pliers, break the middle score first and keep breaking each piece along its middle score.  You will get much better cuts than if you cut the outside strip each time.

As I am now addicted to cutting thinner strips, check out a few of my striped plates.

Do you have other favorite glass cutting straight-edge tools?  Please share as I would love to know the benefits and disadvantages of other tools.

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