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Archive for May, 2015

A local supplier of glass decided to get out of the glass selling business.  Unfortunately before he announced it to the public, he sold all of his fusible glass and supplies and hence all that was left was his copious amount of stained glass.  I wanted to take advantage of his great glass prices and knew that as long as I did not fuse two different pieces of glass together, that I could use the stained glass, so I bought some transparent iridescent pieces and also some opaque swirl pieces.

My first test was a clear iridescent glass which I cut into a circle and first fused to 1350 degrees F so I could soften the edges.  From past experience, if the iridescent is exposed, it sometimes burns off, so I put the iridescent side down.  Then I put the circle on a stainless steel floral vase former and slumped it taking the kiln to 1235 degrees F.  It came out great.

I then wanted to try a vase with a square blank and used a yellow/orange swirl glass for that vase.  The seller had told me his experience with heating the opalescent stained glass was that it needed more temperature, however I decided to keep the edge softening temperature the same.  It actually needed less temperature as at 1350 degrees F, I ended up with some needle points on the edges and needed to grind the edges some before slumping.  Similarly on the slump, I could have used less than 1235 degrees F.  The vase ended up touching the shelf, but still has a nice look to it.

I did two other tests each using a single sheet of the stained glass and fusing it to itself.  For the first test I cut a rectangle out of the 12″x12″ sheet of glass and then took the remaining pieces and cut them into smaller pieces and fused them around the outside of the plate so that it had a raised edge.  Worked great.  Since I took this piece to 1400 degrees, I ended up with a little devitrification on the glass, but overall it is nice for a candle plate.

The last test was cutting my 12″ x 12″ piece into strips and fusing them together looking like a basket weave except I left out the weave.  Took this piece to 1380 degrees F and then slumped it at 1170 degrees F.  Again it worked very well.    Still some devitrification, so I think the opal stained glass pieces are very similar to the opal fused glass pieces and temperature and firing schedules are important to consider.

Fused Glass Pieces Using Stained Glass

Fused Glass Pieces Using Stained Glass

The picture shows three of my four test pieces.  If you have access to stained glass, and want to create a piece that is basically one color or want your piece to be just a single piece of glass thick, try using stained glass!

NOTE: I learn much of what I know from reading other websites, classes 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.  Thanks!

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A couple of months ago, I received a custom order for cobalt blue dinner plates.  The customer was great and very patient as she had waited years to get these custom plates made exactly as she had dreamt.  The task for me was to figure out how to accomplish her dreams.

Cobalt Blue Ruffled Fused Glass Dinner Plate

Cobalt Blue Ruffled Fused Glass Dinner Plate

The first decision was color and it ended up being a decision of glass.  I am mostly a Bullseye fused glass person, but this time the Spectrum cobalt blue transparent color matched her ideal, so I went with Spectrum for his project.

The second challenge was how to make the ruffles.  Often when making a glass plate, you use two sheets of 1/8″ glass in order to get a nice even 1/4″ glass plate.  See my previous post on glass thickness, Do the Math – Fused Glass Likes 6mm or 1/4″.  And often one of the two glass sheets is clear as it helps fuse the other colors without changing their colors and let’s be honest, it is cheaper than other glass colors.   Typically to get a ruffle you do a contour fuse (1380 degrees F in my kiln).  However, if I used clear glass as the bottom layer and cobalt blue on top, you would see a clear gap between the blue ruffles not to mention a clear rectangle in the center.  So instead, I used blue for both layers of glass.

Ruffle Plate using Clear Glass as the Base

Ruffle Plate using Clear Glass as the Base

The last challenge was the shape of the final plate.  She chose a rectangular plate and wanted the outside ruffle to be 1.5″ deep and then the drop of the center of the plate to be .5″ deep.  I called/wrote every mold manufacturer I could find and no one had a mold that shape nor made custom molds.  I am quite sure there is a company out there that would make the custom mold, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune for one set of dinner plates.

I investigated Duraboard and decided that this was perhaps my best option but it was very expensive and I was nervous about spending the money on something about which I didn’t know that much. In addition, in order to get the .5″ drop, I would need to get a deeper board and then carve the bottom and make sure it was level.  I called D&L Art Glass and talked with my favorite sales person, Beverly, and while she said Duraboard would work for my application, why not try several layers of fiber cloth which I already had and with which I could experiment. She was absolutely right!

I stacked three layers of 1/8″ fiber, cut the inside rectangle out and slumped the first plate.  It was perfect for my goal and gave me the exact shape I wanted.  However, I had forgotten about making sure to burn off the fiber and it left a haze on the plate.  The next couple of plates I vented the kiln until it reached about 1000 degrees, but then stopped on subsequent plates and they were fine.  So I believe you really only have to do it until you completely burn off the fiber.  Since I was using it for slumping to 1235 degrees, it took me several firings to completely burn things off.   It would have been better if I had just burned it off on its own by taking it to a higher temperature.  Hindsight!

Three Layers of Fiber for Custom Mold with .5" Drop

Three Layers of Fiber for Custom Mold with .5″ Drop

Plate After Slumping on Custom Fiber Mold

Plate After Slumping on Custom Fiber Mold

I was a great project with many challenges and wonderful lessons learned.  And I ended up with a very happy customer who saw her dreams come true!

Here are my key lessons learned:

1) Make sure you burn off fiber before you use it or vent the kiln if it has not been allowed to burn off.

2) I was only able to get three firings on the Spectrum Cobalt blue glass.  If I did a fourth firing to correct issues, I ended up with lots of small holes in the bottom.  In my experience with Bullseye, I can get more like 5 firings before weird things happen with the glass.

Have you ever needed to make a custom mold? What material did you use?  I would be very curious to learn more for my next project.  Thanks!

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