Archive for June, 2016

I don’t know what took me so long to do this project as the results are so valuable.  I have three small to medium kilns and have learned over the years which kiln works best for different goals.  Ann is a small 8” kiln and works best for jewelry pieces, small dishes, business card holders.  Betty, my 14” glass kiln, is my workhorse and where I fire all larger plates.  Cindy, is a tall ceramics kiln that my husband resurrected from an auction listing of “bricks”, and is great for vases and frit molds.  However you may notice that my descriptions are pretty general, because while I had this high level knowledge, I didn’t really have any specific data to validate the above or help me make decisions on different pieces.

I saw a Facebook post about someone making test tiles and I was reminded that I had put this off for too many years.  I took the lull after my Art Festival where I needed to get other things done in my life to make the test tiles.  They don’t take much time at all to make, but they take up a lot of time in the kilns to fire each to the right temperature so this was a perfect time to do the test tiles.

I used a Bullseye Technote, Knowing Your Kiln, for the design of the tiles incorporating a high viscosity color – white, with a low viscosity color – black as well as adding frits and stringers of different sizes.  Note that the technote is really more for finding hot spots in your kiln which I think would be a different good test for Betty, but I took the test tile design for my kiln temperature test purpose.

Fused Glass Test Tiles

Fused Glass Test Tiles (Part 1)

Fused Glass Test Tiles Part 2

Fused Glass Test Tiles (Part 2)

The results are so interesting and will help me considerably in the future make decisions for each project on the firing schedule and top temperature.  On each tile, I have written the top temperature and either A, B or C for Ann, Betty or Cindy.  As you can see in the pictures, a nice contour fuse in Ann is 1425 degrees F, in Cindy it is 1450 degrees F, but in Betty it is only 1375 degrees F.

I had assumed the difference in temperatures between Betty and Cindy was only 10 degrees and so if I was making a large number of something like these dichroic picture frames, I would use both Betty and Cindy and set Betty 10 degrees lower than Cindy and they just never looked the same.  Now I know why!

Fused Glass Dichroic Picture Frame

Fused Glass Dichroic Picture Frame (available in my Etsy Shop)

When you get the chance, you really should do your own set of test tiles as I am quite sure over time these tiles for reference will save me time and glass money with more successful projects.

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My First Art Festival

My First Art Festival

Last weekend was my first art festival and craft show where I set up a booth to sell my art glass.  It was a wonderful experience.  My hopeful goal was just to sell something as I would hate to do all the work, sit there for two days and not sell anything.  My secret goal, of course, was to sell lots, (1) just because it would make me feel good and (2) I didn’t want to cart all the unsold items home!  I would say, I was some where in between the two goals probably closer to the first.  I covered my costs which included having to buy things like tablecloths and a sign so that was very good.

While getting ready for the show, booth layout was probably the most stressful for me.  I knew I needed some dimension meaning not just a flat table and kept trying to figure out how to add this.  We had some IKEA shelves we were no longer using and my husband suggested cutting one in half which I could then put on the table as a shelf system and then remake the other to hang earrings.  We used some old antenna wire between the peg holes for the earning hangers and then used twine and S hooks to hang sun catchers.  I also brought the other shelf unit just in case, and we ended up setting it up at the back of the booth.

IKEA Shelf Repurposed for Earring Stand

IKEA Shelf Repurposed for Earring Stand

I hadn’t thought I would need help sitting there for the two days, but my sister-in-law joined me both days and it was wonderful to have someone better at engaging people, keeping me company, and also helping wrap as I was doing the money transactions.  Thanks, Kim!

The best part of the weekend was all the valuable lessons learned from listening to people’s comments, both those they intended me to hear and those they did not.  Here are some of the lessons learned:

  1. I have a mold for spoon rests and have made several over the years, however I heard a couple of people indicate it was just too big. Time to buy a smaller mold.
  2. I wanted to offer choices so I put some pendants on chains and some on cards without chains (for a few less dollars).  Regardless of how the pendant was displayed, people always wanted a chain, but often of their choice.  So I think it would be better to somehow display so people could pick the pendant and then pick the chain.
  3. A corollary to #2 is that I only had chains that went up to 18” and many people needed a larger size.  So I have ordered some that are 22”-24” for the future.
  4. At first we hung some pendants onto the wooden shelves on the table.  But we noticed that everyone tended to just look down and so we moved them all to the table to get seen.  I still think dimension is good, but am not quite sure how to set things up so that people look at everything.
  5. My last lesson was to talk to others who had done the show before and listen to their advice.  Several people indicated that while they liked the show and it was a good show, it was mostly attended by visitors who were in town more for the festivities and to eat and drink rather than open their wallets to items.  So while I really prefer to make the larger plates, I made sure to have lots of small items on hand like pendants, small dishes, soap dishes, picture frames and so forth.  And these were exactly the items I sold.

Overall well worth the experience to give this a try and perhaps one day I will do another show, maybe for the Holidays.

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