Posts Tagged ‘Bullseye Glass’

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


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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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Here is another simple technique I learned, but oh so valuable.  I got this tip from Dustin Sherron at Bullseye Glass in Portland.  I always had a hard time breaking the full sheets of glass and getting the glass to break straight across.  Some glass artists suggested making sure the glass was at room temperature.  Some suggested always cut glass in half and then keep dividing, but what if I only wanted 8” and then perhaps I wanted something larger next time, but I already cut it down too small.  Others, indicated that you should break it over the edge of a table by leaning the scored line on the edge and pushing down.  I am quite sure all of these have value, but they still didn’t always make me successful.

Since I am not strong enough to try to lift the full sheet on the table, I cut my large sheets on the floor and then in the past I put a stack of cardboard sheets under the scored edge to break it by pushing on the cut edge.  I have had some success with this, but still have many non-clean breaks.

Last time I was at Bullseye in Portland, I was talking with Dustin and happened to mention I had a hard time cutting the larger sheets and he asked me how I was doing this.  I explained my cardboard trick and he said first it was too soft a material and second I needed to not just push but instead drop it against the hard edge.  I have tried this many times now and so far, all successes.

Here is my process (and sorry I use the floor, but you can adapt this to what works for you):

1.  I use the glass wrapping paper as a base on my floor mostly to catch any little bits of glass, but also protect the floor.  Then place your glass sheet on the paper.

2.  I use a carpenter square where the long side is perfect for the width of the full sheets to score the line I want.

3.  Then I place the glass on a piece of particle board or plywood (something with a hard straight edge) putting the score line on the edge of the wood and letting one end hang over the edge.

4.  Lift the side of the glass not on the board about 2 inches and then let it drop.  The glass breaks on the score line and falls onto the paper and I have a nice clean straight edge.

Breaking Full Sheets of Fused Glass

Breaking Full Sheets of Fused Glass

I have read that whites are one of the hardest to score clean and straight and it even worked with white!  Give it a try.

Thanks, Dustin!  I learn something new every time I visit Bullseye!  My favorite candy shop.  🙂

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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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Hidden Sea Treasures Fused Glass Plate

Hidden Sea Treasures Fused Glass Plate

Believe me, I am not the only one making lemonade from lemons with my glass.  I learned this from other glass fusers and it is one of the beauties of fused glass.  Don’t like something you made or in my case it failed, just fuse the glass again into something else.  These past couple of weeks I have seen my fair share of failures.  They seem to come in waves for me and the hard part about this is that when so many come at once, it can get discouraging.  Usually I just add the pieces to a redo pile for the future, although so far that future has not arrived.    

This time, I was inspired to “fix” it.  Here’s what happened and sorry, but I don’t have any in between pictures.  I started with a 6” round clear sheet of glass and added some Colour De Verre Serpentines I then filled in the gaps with different frits and fired it to a contour fused.  The result wasn’t bad but it needed something.  I then tack fused two fish and a starfish with the starfish sort of hanging over the edge.  I loved it.

Back into the kiln it went to slump into a shallow dish mold.  I knew I needed to take it slow as it was not a consistent depth of glass, however, I still must not have annealed it long enough as it has a long crack in it when I opened the kiln the next day.  

NOTE:  How do I know it cracked on the way down?  You can tell based on the edges of the crack.  If they are soft edges it probably cracked on the way up and softened as the glass was still getting hotter.  If the edges of the crack are sharp, then it probably cracked on the way down and the edges were not able to soften since the kiln was basically just cooling down.  My edges were quite sharp so I knew that next time I needed to hold a lot longer at the anneal temperature.  The best guide I know for annealing thick pieces is from Bullseye:  https://www.bullseyeglass.com/methods-ideas/annealing-thick-slabs.html

I have read that you can flatten out a piece that is cracked and sometimes the crack will heal itself.  I also thought that I could add some course frit along the crack and it would just add to the already pretty fritty piece.  But I had to flatten it out first before I could add the frit as the frit just kept rolling down the side of the bowl shape.  Flattening it out worked well although the crack didn’t heal and so I wanted to add the frit to fill in the crack.  As I was cleaning it to add back into the kiln with the frit, I pushed too hard on one side and the crack gave and half of the plate dropped on the floor and cracked more.  So now I had 4 separate pieces.  I decided to crack some of the larger pieces more and then add all the pieces into a stainless steel ring randomly and fire again to just get it all melted together.

The end result was much better than I had expected as even though the Colour De Verre pieces were now fused in completely (rather than tack fused) I could still see the fish and the part of the starfish.  Not a bad batch of lemonade!

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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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Fused Glass Holiday Ornament

Fused Glass Holiday Ornament

I mentioned in my article on using stainless steel with fused glass (https://idlecreativity.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/stainless-steel-great-for-fusing-glass/) that I wanted to try using chalk to create holes as I had seen others talking about this. I decided to use a stainless steel cookie cutter for my test.

Similar to before, I put my cookie cutter on a prepared kiln shelf, cut Bullseye Thin Fire shelf paper into thin strips to line the cookie cutter and then cut small pieces of glass layering them inside the cutter.  I wish I could tell you how to calculate the exact amount of glass to fill out your mold, but I can’t.  What works for me is to do two layers of colored and clear glass and then add a third level of all clear glass on the top.

I wasn’t too concerned about the exact shape and hence I wasn’t worried that my shelf paper did not fit snugly into the corners. If you want your glass to be the exact shape, spend time to make it fit and perhaps even use some white glue to attach the paper to the cookie cutter.

Mold Set-up Using Chalk to Create Hole

Mold Set-up Using Chalk to Create Hole

I borrowed a piece of chalk from my husband and since I had the best of intentions to return it, I actually used the whole length. In hindsight, after fusing it became pretty brittle and broke off, so I highly recommend that you cut the chalk to a little higher than the depth of your piece and then you can use the remainder piece another time.  Also, make sure you line the chalk with fiber paper so the glass doesn’t stick to the chalk.

Fused Glass Ornament After Firing

Fused Glass Ornament After Firing

I fired this to a full fire at 1460 degrees F and the chalk came out quite easily. Well, it sort of disintegrated so hold it over a trash can!

Happy Holidays!

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