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Archive for February, 2017

Sometime ago I visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens when they were featuring a Chihuly Art Garden and it was wonderful to see the exquisite glass mixed in with all the beautiful greenery.  I decided to give some fused glass garden art a try. 

Fused Glass Garden Stakes

Fused Glass Garden Stakes

When I started this task several years ago, I wanted to go with pre-made stakes and searched for quite a while before I decided to get the stakes from Creative Jubilee.  I’ll have to admit that I don’t even remember what I used to attach the stake to the glass but we were working at the time to fix a house up for sale and I am pretty sure I grabbed the same silicone caulk we were using for the windows.  I liked the stake but some of my glass ended up being fairly substantial, read heavy, and I wanted a thicker diameter stake.

Over time, I read many blogs and Facebook posts where people were not sure how to glue metal stakes to glass so I took this as something I needed to figure out and test.   This time though I decided to make my own stakes, buying some aluminum metal rod which I cut to length and using a course belt sander, sanded one side flat so it would lie flat against the glass.  It is probably not necessary to have it lie flat against the glass, but I thought, “why not.”

Aluminum Rod Sanded on One Side

Aluminum Rod Sanded on One Side

Aluminum Rod Lying Flat on Glass

Aluminum Rod Lying Flat on Glass

I researched different kinds of glues, epoxy and silicone and decided to try a silicone adhesive specifically made to adhere metal and also good for an outside environment.   

http://www.caulkyourhome.com/ge-silicone-II-aluminum-and-metal.php

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper experiment without testing the finished product in the elements.  While my weather does not vary greatly, these stakes have seen a few 90 degree days and a several more freezing days and they still look the same as the day I put them in the planters.

Back of Plant Stake showing Silicone

Back of Plant Stake showing the GE Silicone II Adhesive

Back of Plant Stake

Back of Plant Stake showing the Creative Jubilee stake with typical Window Silicone

While I really like the silicone adhesive made for metal, it did cost more and both have held up just as well after one year of testing.  Perhaps over the long haul this will change.  The silicone adhesive for metal only came in grey, so if you needed clear because of a transparent piece, try a different clear silicone made for outside use.   Either way, enjoy some beautiful glass in your garden!

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I love Bullseye Glass’s steel blue, maybe because I love subtle bling and the silver hue after firing is just my kind of bling.  I wanted to do a drop vase using the blue and see how it would streak down the sides of the vase as the vase dropped.  And I learned something new about steel blue along the way: Don’t set your expectations too firm and just enjoy how it constantly changes with each firing!

Bullseye Glass Steel Blue Drop Vase

Bullseye Glass Steel Blue Drop Vase

To learn more about Bullseye’s steel blue, check out their tip sheet.  It has some wonderful characteristics.

Since I was doing a long drop (about 6”), I followed the rule of using 6mm for a 4” drop and then for every 2” added to the height, add another 3mm sheet of glass.  Therefore, before I did the drop, I would need a total of three 3mm sheets of glass.

To start, I cut one circle from clear Tekta and another from steel blue. I lay the steel blue on top of the clear, added a stencil of large dots and sifted clear powder onto the stencil. I then fired the two pieces of glass to a full fuse. I really liked the results.

My goal was to have dots on both sides of the vase (one side large dots and the other side small dots) as I didn’t want the inside of the drop vase to be plain. So I flipped the fused disk over and added another piece of steel blue and again sifted clear powder, but used the small circles stencil and again fired to a full fuse. This time I used thin fire on the shelf as I wanted to keep the bottom smooth since it would be the top of the vase.

Bottom of Fired Steel Blue Vase. Can see the faint outlines of where the clear powder dots had been, but they disappeared when fired facing the shelf.

Bottom of Steel Blue Vase fired facing thin fire. You can see the faint outlines of where the clear powder dots had been, but they disappeared when fired facing the shelf.

 

Top of Disk after Firing with Clear Powder for Dots

Top of Disk after Firing with Clear Powder for Small Dots (This became the outside of the vase and bottom of the vase rim)

The tip sheet indicates that to get the best effects of the steel blue, you should fire it between 1250-1400 degrees F.  My kiln does not require a very high temperature to get a nice fuse and so I typically fire it at 1440 degrees which is what I used for both firings.  For the first one, the silver hue was apparent as well as the steel blue dots.  And for the second firing, the same was true of the top surface.  What surprised me was that the downside on the thin fire lost its silver hue and went back to steel blue.  I could see a faint shift where the dots had been but essentially they were gone.

Since I wanted to do the drop now but still wanted something different on the top since I had lost the powder dots, I decided to add some clear circles which would tack fuse since I was taking the drop to 1235 degrees F.  I really wish I had remembered to take a picture but the top stayed steel blue and then the inside of the vase was steel blue and the outside was a mottled silver hue and steel blue as the drop pulled the dots.  Very cool!

I had one more firing to do though as I like to add a disk to the bottom for stability.  And yes, I should have just added it when I did the drop, but I always want to make sure I get it centered and so usually I do this as a separate step.  The pre-fired circle was a piece of steel blue with a slightly smaller circle of clear.  The end result of the vase changed again which I just never expected as this time I only took the kiln to 1220 degrees F.  This time, the silver hue came back on the top surface and streaks inside the vase, and the original large dots of clear powder became noticable again.

Top View of Bullseye Steel Blue Vase after 4 Firings Where the Dots Became Visible Again

Top View of Bullseye Steel Blue Vase after 4 Firings Where the Dots Became Visible Again

Overall, it is a very cool vase which pictures don’t do it justice.  However, I was fascinated by the fact that for each fire, I really could not or was not able to predict exactly what would happen.  All the more reason to love steel blue and its beautiful quirkiness!

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