Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone has a safe and cheerful holiday season.

This year, I was lucky to be the Featured Artist in December at one of the galleries (Backstreet Gallery) where I sell my fused glass art. This means I have an extra space in the front window in which I can show new and different items to feature and of course, holiday themed is good. Some are ornaments which we hung from the top of the window.

I have used many Colour de Verre molds over the years and tried two new ones this year, Holiday Tree and Stocking and Stars.  I liked leaving them hollow but also tried the idea in their tutorial for filling them in. Wow! Very cool!

My other new try was to make some tree ornaments but rather than hanging them, I added a copper wire before firing, made some squares out of fancy wood, drilled a hole for the wire and then stuck the wires in the wood for a standing tree decoration.

I used both 12 gauge and 14 gauge wire on the trees; 12 gauge is probably better as it will be sturdier. I flatten the wire on the end I plan to put between two pieces of glass, however this step is not required. The outside of the copper wire exposed to air will flake off in the kiln and you will need to vacuum the flakes, but the copper itself will be just fine. After removing the glass piece from the kiln, sand the wire to remove any of the black copper oxide flakes (I used 220 grit) and then lightly hammer the wire to harden it as heating the wire softens the wire and you want it to stand firm.

Holiday Fused Glass Trees on Wood

You can scrap wood, nice wood, plastic … I used a fancier wood, but it was a large scrap piece. I cut the wood into squares and then drilled a hole in their center very slightly bigger than the wire as I didn’t want much play but I also didn’t want to have to use force to get the wire into the wood. I also added a little glue on the wire so it would hold firm in the wood. Very easy to make and people loved them!

Hope you have a wonderful 2019 and for all you fusers, Happy Fusing!

Sometimes it feels good to use a hammer.  Even if it is glass when it has a purpose and I don’t mean frustration.

A customer favorite plate involves using a hammer to break the glass.  I cut the background piece to the right size for the mold and then cut the inside piece 3/4” to 1” less.

Hammer Plate (Black Irid on White Glass)

Hammer Plate (Black Irid on White Glass)

To hammer the piece, it works best when the glass you want to break is on a hard surface like a piece of plywood.  Lay on top of the glass a piece of thick paper like the paper used to wrap glass.  Grab a hammer and a center punch.  It can be a pointy one or not so pointy.  If you want to try to crack the glass right in the center, then you need to align the center punch with exactly where you want it to crack.  Take a good whack with the hammer and it should crack. (Oh, I should have warned you to make sure you have your safety glasses on.)

Remove the paper and check out your pieces.  The good and bad of this process is you don’t always get it to crack as you wanted, but I have found almost all cracks interesting.  See the two different pieces for which I basically did the same thing but got different results.  

Carefully move the pieces onto a piece of cardboard to transport to your workbench.

I sometimes grind the edges just to remove sharp little shards.   Then clean each piece, lay on the base layer of glass and if you want you can glue each piece down.  I use Bullseye Glastac, but you can also use Elmer’s glue.  In my kiln, I fuse the piece to 1380 degrees F because I want the edges to round, but I don’t want the pieces to fully fuse and instead have a nice contour.

Give it a try and enjoy.

I am a member of a Co-op Art Gallery, Backstreet Gallery.  Every year we do a community challenge to give the local artists a chance to branch out of their artistic comfort zone and try something new and then display/sell their artwork at our gallery.   This summer’s challenge was ‘Bots and Beguiling Beings.  I immediately thought of robots and trying to make them stand-up on their own weight. 

Lucy and Leonid, Fused Glass Robots

I did a sample test first with clear glass, two feet and a rectangle above connecting them with 14g copper wire and it worked great.

I had saved some leftover house copper wiring scraps when we were doing house projects and therefore had scraps of 12g and 14g as well as a spool of 18g and 24g from jewelry projects. The copper wire will come out of the kiln after firing with scale on it and you will need to sand it off unless you like that look. 

I cut 3” lengths for the legs and arms, and then 2.5” for the neck and ears. I used mostly the 14g scraps and then 24g for Lucy’s hair. In hindsight, I had intended to twist the necks but then decided not to, so I would make the necks slightly shorter. The glass should fuse right around the wire at a full fuse, but to make it nicer looking, I used a hydraulic press to flatten the ends of the wire first before sandwiching between the two layers of glass.  You can also accomplish this with a hammer.

I read that the best way to clean the wire before fusing was salt and vinegar, so I made a small bath and soaked the wire before fusing.

I first fused those pieces of glass that I wanted to fully fuse with the copper, so the head, body and feet.  I then tack fused the extra’s like eyes, mouth, buttons, lace, shoe strings and bows for Lucy.

The hardest part was probably sanding the copper wire after firing using 220 grit sandpaper. I was just a little paranoid that I would break the glass as I sanded, but I sanded while the piece was still lying flat on my work surface to make it easier.

To stand Lucy and Leonid up, I used a piece of 3/4” pvc pipe to curve the legs and adjusted them a little until they were self-supporting.

I didn’t want people poking themselves on Lucy’s hair, so I used a propane flame to round their ends. If you hold the tip of the copper wire in a flame it will ball up into a tiny bead. Then I twirled the wire around a thin metal stick to curl it.

I found some matching glass beads for their hands and added them to the arm wires.  It took me awhile to figure out how to decorate Leonid’s ears and head. I finally decided that coils of copper would be right.

I had a lot of fun making Lucy and Leonid.  Hope you enjoy them and try something new yourself this summer!

I have been fascinated recently with all things “holey” meaning using the glass in ways to create holes.  I started with a tutorial for sand dollar plates (more on this in a future blog) and then morphed to using strips of glass next to each other in a single layer trying to create a “holey” look and then putting this on top of a platter.

Examples of Platters with Fused Glass Strips or Stringers

I later came across several posts on Fused Glass Fanatics in Facebook using stringers (instead of glass strips) to create an even more ethereal look and became hooked.  Again I used this on some platters but then wondered what it would be like on a drop vase on the outside so I could easily see the effect and I loved it. 

Drop Vase with Glass Stringers


Here are the steps for both the glass strips and stringers:

1) For glass strips I cut 1/4” wide strips same as you would do for a strip plate where you put the strips on edge.  If you break one, don’t worry, just put it together in the kiln.  It will separate when fired but since you want holes this only adds to it.   For stringers, just cut them all the length you want and it is okay to mix 1mm and 2mm stringers.

2) Lay them all next to each other in the kiln and fire.   I will have to say that the lay-up of the stringers in a circle took me an inordinate amount of time, more than expected.  

Lay-up of Glass Strips in Kiln before Firing

Lay-up of Stringers in Kiln before Firing

Here is my schedule:

Ramp     Temperature     Hold Time

500        1050 F                 1 hr

500        1455 F                 10 minutes

AFAP     900 F                  1 hr

100         700 F                  10 minutes

3) After firing, clean your fused piece very carefully to remove any residual kiln wash or fiber paper.

4) When adding to a plate or coaster, I found I got less distortion of the edges of the plate from 3 layers if I first fused the two full sheets together. After making sure I had straight edges, I placed the fired “holey” strips on that plate either doing a tack fuse or full fuse and the edges stayed straight. 

5) Often these strip plates look better with a matte finish, so I then sandblast the whole thing and slump it which is the perfect temperature to keep the matte finish.  Sandblasting if often necessary anyway because I didn’t get off all the kiln wash before the second fire and I needed to fix the result. So I usually sandblast even if I want a glossy finish.

For the drop vase I wanted to use excess pieces of stringers from the plates as I had lots of smaller pieces which seemed perfect for a 6” circle. After I had fused the strips in a circle, I then fused it onto a layer of black and clear glass, and last I flipped and fused some random excess pieces of stringers to the other side so both sides of the vase were interesting. 

After firing on Black Base before Dropping

One last comment is that I tested the initial stringer fusing both on kiln wash and thin fire paper to see which was better. As far as the appearance after firing and getting a nice separation, you can see in the picture below for the twop two pieces that it did not matter. However, for clean up afterwards and making sure the resulting glass was clean before adding to a plate, the thin fire won this test as it is much easier to clean and perhaps not always require sandblasting. 

No Visible Difference between using Kiln Wash and Thin Fire

I have been playing with paint on glass for many years. My first was a gift for someone with whom I worked for several years, but he was heading back to India, so I painted a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge using Glassline Paints. 

Fused Glass Plate with Glass Paints

But I always wanted to try more with paints. Then Bullseye started selling the Color Line paints and the samples I saw had such vivid colors I had to give it a try.

Even though I bought the paints, I hadn’t had time to play until a friend who is a watercolor painter asked if she could paint on glass to make some sun catchers as gifts. Since I am definitely not a painter, the deal was she would do the painting and I would do the firing.

Participating in several Facebook groups I had read that red colors could pose issues and had experienced this myself with different paint brands, and true to form, for her sun-catchers the red either faded or turned a slight grey color. I was quite disappointed, but she graciously said she liked them. So began my testing.

I figured the variables were kilns, fiber paper, and venting. I later learned that other paint colors was also a variable. On the small samples, what seemed to work best for me was my larger kiln perhaps because it has more oxygen which is a good thing for the red colors and no fiber paper just kiln wash.

During the holiday season, I decided to try my knowledge and paint some ornaments. I painted 5 of them, put them in the my larger kiln, vented it to 1000 degrees F, and hoped the red color would stay vibrant. On those ornaments that had larger areas of red, I was disappointed. For the wreath ornament where I added the red berries on top of the green, the red berries stayed very vibrant.  And on the ornament where I first painted green and then red on top, the red stayed as well.  But you can see in the picture how others faded.

Fused Glass Ornaments where Red Paint has Faded

To remedy my faded reds and using the fact that the red worked on top of the green, I used an orange color to paint where the red was, then when dry painted over the orange with red and fired again.  The red stayed put this time.

Fused Glass Ornaments showing Vibrant Red Color

Again my trusted advisor at Bullseye, Dustin, helped me by mentioning that other colors in the kiln also affect the reds and it is best to fuse red just by itself and to also make sure I do more than just venting and create an airflow. So I tried one more time with two pieces of glass again in the larger kiln with just kiln wash, vented to 1000 degrees and left the peepholes open to create an airflow, with just red paint, no other color.  Interesting enough, one piece worked and the other didn’t.  The one that did had a much denser coverage of red which perhaps is also a factor.

Red Paint before Firing in Kiln

Red Paint After Firing in Kiln

I am not sure if I have provided enough useful information here for you to be successful with red paints, but my goal was to offer you my experiments to help you if you are trying to use red paints to achieve some success.  I definitely plan to do more with paints and so will continue to learn about how to make reds and pinks and similar colors keep their rich beautiful colors.

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