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My Screen Printing Results from Class

Several years ago I was very fortunate to take a screen printing class at Bullseye Glass Studios in Portland OR.  It was awesome.  I learned so much about all the different tools and techniques as well as mixing colors as the two instructors were great.  The above are my creations from the class and I will never part with them!  The optical illusion one was particularly challenging as I had to take the picture, separate out all the different colors into different layers, screen print each one onto a different sheet of glass and then combine all the layers trying to carefully line them up.  It was ambitious but so very rewarding and it very much satisfied my engineering slant to life.

Fast forward to present day and I still have not had the time nor the desire to pony up for a screen printing exposure unit.  Therefore I am currently using pre-made screen prints which I purchase from AAE Glass.  I have also only bought black silk screen paste hence why all my projects are using black.  A small container goes a long way but it is quite the investment.

Here are my first attempts using the simple screens.

Screen Printed Coasters

Screen Printed Coasters

Screen Printing with Touch-ups

Screen Printing with Touch-ups

Lessons learned:

1.  If you are doing something like coasters, and want to do several, use blocks to ensure you put the glass in the same place each time,

2.  I could only print 2 coasters before I needed to clean the screen.  It could be that my paste was too thick, but it spread nicely.  So I just think the screen gets messy and then hard to keep the other areas on the glass clean.

3.  On the lighthouse one, I ended up not quite getting things lined up as well I as had thought and I could see a gap between the black enamel and the darker blue border.  So I used a brush to add a little more.  You can tell it is not quite the same.  The silk screen has no blemishes whereas where I painted it is not quite as smooth.

So now for a comparison.  Over the years I have used plastic stencils I buy or even cardboard ones I make combined with glass powder to create different patterns.   I tape these stencils onto the back of a fine mesh screen and then use a similar technique to screen printing only using glass powder.  

Powder Printing

These work quite well and are definitely pleasant to look at.  The difference is crispness.  With the stencils and powder, it is difficult to ensure an even thickness of powder everywhere and so you have some areas darker and some lighter.  Given other inconsistencies in working with glass, it all adds to the beauty of handmade, but if you are after crisp colors, go for screen printing!  I think I just convinced myself to buy another color of paste!!!

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I have written in the past about people’s preferences for a glossy finish versus a matte finish on fused glass.  I always let the piece tell me what it wants after its first firing in the kiln.  I usually start off assuming glossy, but then after that first fire you can just tell if the colors need a matte finish to pop more.  No clue why a matte finish often accentuates the colors, but it does.

Mondrian Fused Glass Plate with a Matte Finish

Recently I decided to try a combo effect.  I started with a clear platter as I was curious if the effect would work (it did!) and then progressed to two colors of blue.

Finished Clear and Blue Glass Platters with Combo Matte and Glossy Finish

Here are my steps:

  1. Start with a round circle of 3mm fused glass and then cut smaller pieces of 3mm to layer on top.
  2. Fuse to a contour fuse (for my kiln this is about 1380 degrees F).
  3. Cover all the places you want to maintain the glossy look with blue masking tape.  For my piece, this was the base sheet of glass.
  4. Sandblast all the areas not covered in blue tape.
  5. Slump the sandblasted piece onto the mold of your choice.
After Sandblasting (showing blue tape to keep areas glossy)

After Sandblasting (showing blue tape to keep areas glossy)

Lessons learned:

  1. When I did the blue piece, I couldn’t remember if I had fired the clear sandblasted piece first before slumping just at a low temperature.  After two attempts at lower and lower temps, I decided any temperature above slumping temperature was just too hot.  Even 1220 degrees F in my kiln glossed up what I had sandblasted. 
  2. You could argue the real lesson learned was to take better notes!!!!

Fused Glass Platter Combining Glossy and Matte Finish

Do you have a preference for a matte finish or glossy finish?  Just curious.  I think my husband and I always lean toward matte, but glossy sells better.

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I didn’t plan on getting obsessed with stringers, but it happened.  My original goal was just to create something different and bold for a wedding present.  I found a tutorial using stringers and made my first obsessive plate.  It ended up exactly as I had hoped and wanted.  Sorry, but I can’t explain the how of this one since I got it from a paid tutorial from Vitrium Studio if you too want to buy.

Optics

This then took me down the path of other tests with stringers.  I have often obsessed over Richard Parrish’s tapestry projects .

So I set out to create a geometric.  I made two part sheets of stringers and decided to use the blue one for this project.  Many and many hours later, I had cut and pieced it together to get something similar to what I have seen Richard produce.  I am guessing I did not do this exactly how he creates his, either that or he is a very, very patient person.  I am not, so this may be a one and only for me.  Here were my basic steps (not including my hours of figuring out how to cut and place the pieces):

Tapestry based on work by Richard Parrish

  1. For the part sheet, I used 3mm sheet glass and then placed quite tightly different colors of blue/grey/lavender/pink stringers using Glastac to keep them all in place.
  2. After an initial tack fuse to get my part sheet, I then started cutting it into strips and aligning.  Each strip was 1/2” wide and I needed many more strips than the size of the plate as I had to use bottoms of some, tops of others and so forth all in an effort to get the chevron pattern that I wanted.
  3. When I was finally ready to fuse again, to keep the stringers as straight as possible, I put the part sheet with the stringers down onto the kiln shelf and then added a 3mm clear sheet on top and dammed the whole thing.  Again I only went to a tack fuse at 1350 degrees F.
  4. Now you get to choose which side you like better.  I liked the look of the piece when looking through the clear as it gave it more depth, so I left it facing the way I had fused it with clear on top.  I might have been able to combine steps 3 and 4, but I really wanted to ensure that I keep my lines straight and so usually a tack fuse before the full fuse usually works best for me.
  5. I then ground my edges to get them all even and re-fired this time to an almost full fuse to get a nice even and smooth edge.

For the second part sheet I had made, I wanted something easier meaning less hours trying to get the right pieces lined up correctly.  So I decided to cut the strips wider and on an angle.  As I was laying them on the workbench, some were up and some were down and it looked quite cool.  So I decided to fire them that way, however this time I wasn’t sure how to keep the stringers straight as some would be facing down and others facing up.  Here are my steps:

Zig Zags

  1. I used 3mm sheet glass and then placed quite tightly different colors of red/orange/yellow stringers using Glastac to keep them all in place.
  2. After an initial tack fuse to get my part sheet, I then started cutting it into diagonal strips and aligning.
  3. In the kiln, I placed a sheet of 3mm clear on the shelf and then placed every other strip face up and the remaining face down.  I didn’t bother constraining it this time but again only took it to a tack fuse at 1350 degrees.
  4. This one looked the most interesting looking at it from the top where some of the strips had clear on the bottom and top and the others had two clears on the bottom but just the stringers facing up.  If I flipped it over the stringers just seemed lost.  However the top was not as smooth as I would like, but had a very interesting effect and one I wanted to keep.
  5. I ground my edges to get them all even and re-fired but kept it at a contour fused to not distort the stringers and keep the effect I liked.

If you zoom in and look closely you can see that where the stringers were sandwiched between the bottom clear sheet and clear on top, they did distort a little but it gives a very interesting effect as it leads your eye to the next piece.

Hope you enjoy these projects!  Give them a try sometime and let me know how yours turn out.

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Last year I was given a commission to make quite a few drop vases for a wonderful older woman.  Over time, her requests changed often and so for quite some time I continued to make them in many colors and schemes to meet her needs.  Of course, I couldn’t help throw some tests into the mix as I wondered what would happen under various circumstances.

Drop Vases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Drop Vases

As an example, I was curious what would happen to stringers as they dropped into the vase.  So I made my circle disk with a cross pattern of stringers.  The drop was fascinating as some of them expanded and stretched as they dropped.

Drop Vase with Stringers

I then wondered what would happen with a circle with a pattern of bubbles.  I made my circle disk first using Bullseye reeded glass getting the regular pattern of bubbles throughout.  When it dropped, those bubbles toward the bottom had the most stretch.  And even though it is clear, it is very cool!

Drop Vases with Bubbles

Now, for the accident.  What happens when you totally forget to watch the drop and stop it at the right time?  I remembered about 2 hours later!  While not what I wanted or expected, it actually ended up being a very interesting piece.  It seems solid and is water tight so can be used as a real vase, but it is also very thin and definitely not something I would sell.  Perhaps though through more testing, I can find an in between where it is still different and cool, but at the same time not so fragile.

My Accident – Dropped Too Long

What other suggestions for tests on drop vases do you have?

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I love the Creative Paradise texture molds and since I live on the West Coast, the mold with a lighthouse and sailboats is quite popular.  My typical way of using some of these texture molds is to put a piece of Bullseye Iridized Glass face down on the prepared mold, sift some clear powder on the sheet to prevent bubbles and then top with a sheet of clear glass taking it to a full fuse.

I then slump the finished plate onto a mold with cupped sides for a finished platter.

Mold with Sheet Glass

Mold with Sheet Glass

I was getting bored doing the same thing each time, although I did try many different iridized blues, so decided to try something new for me.  I used frit to fill in the mold cavities trying different colors for the water, sky etc.  Then added 2 layers of 3mm clear on top with a fine sifting of clear powder between and fired.

On my first attempt, I didn’t have enough frit and so added more and refired the piece.  Not sure if this will happen every time, but I ended up with a nice large bubble.  Perhaps I should try to get it right on the first firing!  I redid my frit attempt making sure to add enough frit as well as more saturated colors and it worked perfectly.  I used a gold pen to outline the sailboats and lighthouse before slumping it onto a double curve mold.  It sold immediately!

Mold with Frit and Clear Glass

Mold with Frit and Clear Glass

Of course I had to try yet another way!  This time, I decided to use sheet glass colors to match the color of the sky and water enhanced with some frit.  I then cut the shapes of the lighthouse and sailboats out using my ring saw and inserted clear glass for the shapes.   For this variant, I first full fused the two layers of glass before adding to the mold.   My lesson learned was that glass spreads a little at full fuse and so my lighthouse and sailboat shapes ended up being a little larger than that on the mold, but careful placement of extra frit when adding to the mold and the gold pen makes it look fine.

Mold with Cut Sheet Glass and Frit

Mold with Cut Sheet Glass and Frit

If you haven’t tried one of these texture molds, give it a try. Three different looks all with the same mold. So many ways to use them and be creative!

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