Archive for November, 2013

If you have been following my blog, I mentioned several months ago that I approached a local store to learn about selling my products in a store.  I received lots of great advice, but one of the most memorable was that since I brought the owner a little bit of lots of different items (coasters, night lights, soap dishes, boxes, barrettes, etc) I had overwhelmed her.  She said it would be best to just bring one line such as coasters.

Recently I noticed a small store in Mountain View, CA called The Mountain View General Store.  It is very tiny, but seemed like the perfect place to get started with selling in a store as all items are handmade by local artists.  So I approached the owner, Tina Ambrogi, bringing just Christmas ornaments and asked her if she would be interested in selling them.  She said, “Yes.”  Yay!!!  And not only did she want to sell the ornaments, but basically any of my fused glass items.

I was then presented with a dilemma because any item I chose to give her to sell in her store meant I had to remove that item from my Etsy store and hence how do you figure out what will sell where.  But I finally made my choices and dropped the glass and contract off at the Mountain View General Store on Wednesday afternoon.  By Thursday afternoon, I had already sold one item and gotten a custom request for another.  Very, very exciting!

If you happen to be local to the San Francisco Bay Area, check out the Mountain View General Store for your Christmas shopping or everyday shopping for handmade items!

Mountain View General Store

Mountain View General Store

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Before I get started with this week’s experiment, I wanted to thank all my wonderful readers as I zoomed past 10,000 views this week.  I do not know if 10,000 views in a little over two years is good or bad, but it sure made me feel good.  And if I have helped even a small percentage of those views with their glass fusing, then it makes me feel great!  Thank you again.

Now on to my next experiment – so much to share on this one.  I love the look of something called the crackle effect and so decided to try to experiment and see if I could create this effect.  My first and un-photographed attempts included placing glass powder on a glass sheet and firing, placing powder directly on a kiln shelf topped with a glass sheet and firing, and placing powder on fiber cloth, spritzing with water and firing and all of these had interesting results of shaded powder, but none had the effect I was going for.

A recent Facebook post of a class on the crackle effect had an interesting picture of someone actually holding a piece of fiber cloth with powder on top that got me thinking.  In hindsight, I had read something similar to this on the Glass Fusing Made Easy site, but I guess I didn’t really understand it at the time.  So off I went to experiment with this new found knowledge.

First, I thought I would show one of the final results so you could see what I was trying to accomplish.

Completed Blue Fused Glass Plate (available in my Etsy Store)

Completed Blue Fused Glass Plate (available in my Etsy Store)

I tried three methods as follows:

1)  First, I added water to the glass powder and then spread this damp powder on a sheet of fiber cloth.  This was harder than I had thought it would be.  I had to take my hand and smooth over the top as it was very clumpy.  Then I picked up the fiber cloth and “cracked” the powder as much as I could without allowing the powder to fall off.  I placed this in the kiln and fired.  After it was done, I added a piece of clear on top and fired again.

2) This time, I placed my fiber cloth down and spritzed some water on it.  I then sifted dry powder until it seemed like it was covered and then spritzed some more water.  I then added more powder because I have a tendency to never use enough and so I went gonzo and spritzed one more time.  I then did the same as above and picked up the fiber cloth and “cracked” the powder.  This one seemed easier and I got a lot of smaller cracks than I had above.  I think because I hadn’t pounded the wet powder so tightly together!  I placed this in the kiln and fired.  After it was done, I added a piece of clear on top and fired again.

Methods 1 (on right) and 2 (on left) ready to fire

Methods 1 (on right) and 2 (on left) ready to fire

Methods 1 (on right) and 2 (on left) after first fire

Methods 1 (on right) and 2 (on left) after first fire

3) This last method was a suggestion from someone else and while it was exactly what it says “cracked glass”, it wasn’t quite what I wanted to achieve.  I again used fiber cloth and sifted powder on to the cloth.  I fired this one as is without cracking.  After it was done, I put the fiber cloth with the now solid but thin piece of glass onto a hard surface and used a roller to crack the glass.  Even though it was very think, it was harder to crack than I would have thought and I had to add some things to my roller to get it to crunch down more on the glass.  I put the cracked glass back into the kiln with a sheet of clear on top and fired again.

Method 3 after first fire and cracking with roller

Method 3 after first fire and cracking with roller

The results:

1)  Method 1 was definitely not the crackle effect.  However, if you wanted a large blotchy amorphous look to your final piece, this would be the process!  I will talk about lessons learned later, but definitely the key lesson on this one if you do like this look, is to use distilled water.  I used tap water and who knows what was in the water because you can see all sorts of deposits in the final result.

Method 1 after adding clear on top of topside

Method 1 after adding clear glass on top of top side

2)  Method 2 is the closest to the crackle effect.  I don’t think it is 100% the right solution, but you can see that it is a very cool looking effect.  You do have to decide which side to use as the top and the bottom have a slightly different look.  I chose to use the top side up and so placed my clear glass on the top and fired.  Later I added a lighter color of blue on the bottom and re-fired.

Method 2 after adding firing with clear on top of topside

Method 2 after adding firing with clear glass on top of top side

3) Hmm, what can I say.  It is definitely a cracked glass look, however I am not sure a very attractive one.  Well worth the effort to see if it would work though.

Method 3 after firing with clear glass on top

Method 3 after firing with clear glass on top

There are many lessons learned with these experiments:

  • As mentioned above, use distilled water.
  • I was very nervous about firing the kiln with the pieces still damp from the water, and had meant to vent the kiln to let the steam escape, but forgot.  It didn’t seem to matter, but I am guessing it was not very good for my kiln.  So if you do fire them wet, you should probably vent.
  • However, I think letting the powder dry is probably the best thing to do before you fire.

Why do I say that I don’t think I still have it quite right – because with the pieces I see on the web, the crackle edges seem very sharp and sometimes seem to be a different color almost shaded.  My edges of the crackle on my finished plate are very constant, smooth and round.  Although, I do like the final plate (shown above)!

Biggie Sizing It

Of course, I had to biggie size method 2 creating a 10″ circle.  I tend to experiment with small pieces, but I am always anxious to try them bigger.   I cut out a 10″ circle of the fiber cloth and spritzed it with water.  In order to get shading of the edges, I layered multiple colors of glass powder.  I started with the darker colors and then added the lighter color on top.  In hindsight, I actually think I did this backwards, oops!   Although in hind hindsight, I guess it depends on whether you plan to use the top side or the bottom side.

I did let this one dry some and picked it up to do the cracking.  Holding a 10″ circle is much harder than holding a 5″ square!  So I had some loss of powder along the edges.  I tried to squish it back on, but you can tell where I did this.  Lesson learned, cut my fiber cloth bigger and just trace the 10″ circle onto it.  This way I am not trying to hold the edges and wiggle the cloth where the powder can fall off the edges.  I fired this the same as above with the exception that I went ahead and added the clear glass for the first fire.  I wasn’t sure if this would make it not crack, but it didn’t seem to affect this part, so definitely combine these steps into one firing.   Again perhaps not the true effect, but I love its looks.

10" Circle after firing

10″ Circle after firing

Close-up of Top Side of 10" Circle

Close-up of Top Side of 10″ Circle

Close-up of Bottom Side of 10" Circle

Close-up of Bottom Side of 10″ Circle

As you can see in the pictures, the top side and the bottom side have different looks.  I have not finished this one as I need to do some sanding around the edges to get rid of the bad parts, but I think this time I will fire it with the bottom side up and compare it with my already completed small plate.

Because I love this look, I do plan to keep experimenting to find the true crackle effect but for now I am content that I have at least learned something new and plan to use this in a few new pieces!

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