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Posts Tagged ‘Bullseye Glass’

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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Recently my husband was placing an eBay order for some electronic components from China and noticed if he got to a certain amount, he got a discount. He looked to see what else was available on their store and noticed some stainless steel cookie cutters. He is always on the lookout for stainless steel for me as it works so well with kilns.  They were three small different size circles and were just a couple of dollars for all three.  Awesome!

It was hard to be completely confident that they really were 100% stainless steel, so when they arrived I fired one to 1400 degrees F to see if is flaked and it came out the same as it went in with a little less shine to the metal. Now ready to test with glass.

I decided to use each of the three rings differently. First I lined each ring with Bullseye Thin Fire. And yes, if you look closely at the picture you will notice I had the wrong side facing the glass. I was surprised, but it didn’t seem to matter.

I had made some pattern bars with one color being steel blue opalescent and I wanted to see how the pattern bar would melt, so I added one rectangular slice of the pattern bar to one of the rings. For the second ring I nipped some rods into 3/8″ pieces and set them on end with pieces of clear Tekta on top. The third ring was comprised of pieces of Tekta mixed with green and red confetti and green, red and white stringers and some small pieces of dichroic course frit for effect.

Stainless Steel Rings with Glass Before Firing

Stainless Steel Rings with Glass Before Firing

  • The glass in the smallest ring flowed all the way to the ring and came out very nice and for the purposes of testing how to use the ring worked out quite well. After some smoothing of the edges, fire polishing and a bail, it will be ready to be worn as a necklace.
  • The second mostly filled out the ring, but I wish I had added more color and covered the dichroic pieces with Tekta as they didn’t flow as well.
  • The pattern bar melt did not fill out the largest ring, but it was still a good way to contain the glass melt.
Glass after Firing in the Stainless Steel Rings

Glass after Firing in the Stainless Steel Rings

Since I have a very hard time getting circles for jewelry and wine stoppers to end up both the right size and a perfect circle, I think finding stainless steel circles the right size is the best way to go.

Over the years I have bought shaped cookie cutters and was planning to use them as templates to contain frit and then remove them before firing. However, now I that I know these circles work so well, I might give them a try for say Christmas ornaments. If you do give this a try, make sure you test your cutters first to ensure they are really stainless steel.

As a side note, I have read that using chalk with thin fire around it works well to create holes in glass, so I think a Holiday shaped cutter with chalk will be a great next test and will make a nice ornament.  Stay tuned for the results of my tests!

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Too many things I want to try however not enough hours in the day, so I decided to use one piece to play with two ideas.  The first goal was to replicate the Wonky Vase I had accidentally made awhile ago however many people really liked.

The second goal was to play with the Bullseye’s French Vanilla and Dense White color combination. Typically the reaction between them is a grey outline and very striking. I have seen debates on whether to make vanilla the base with dense white on top or the opposite. For this experiment, I went with vanilla as the base and dense white on top.   

I chose to start with a crackle glass and as often is the case, messed up on my first try as I grabbed white glass rather than the french vanilla. My dense white powder on white base was barely visible. With long drop vases, I like to have at least 3 layers of glass, so no worries. I did another crackle base with the dense white powder and french vanilla glass on top and then added to the top of that the other base so I had crackle on both sides.

Dense White Powder on Vanilla Base Crackle

Dense White Powder on Vanilla Base Crackle (Side 1)

Dense White Powder on White Base (Side 2)

Dense White Powder on White Base (Side 2)

The dense white on vanilla side ended up darker grey than I had expected but I remember reading others’ posts where they indicated that the reaction depended on the amount of heat and the number of times heated.  I had heated this already twice, first to 1400 degrees F and later to 1465 degrees F, to fuse the two bases together.

Now for the process of creating the wonky vase, I set up the kiln for a drop vase and let it drop. As typical with drops, each one takes a different amount of time depending on the colors of the glass and this one took exceptionally long, almost 2 hours at 1365 degrees F.

What amazed me is how the dark grey color deepened and turned browner as the vase dropped.   In hindsight, I realized I should not have been surprised about the brown color as this is exactly the reaction you get when mixing these colors where there are lots of points of reaction as in the Bullseye River Rock technique which uses french vanilla frit and dense white powder.

My first thought looking at the drop vase was hmmm, not what I expected.  But it grew on me as I let it sit for a while and realized how much it looked like a mushroom.  Now, what to do for the base to hold the vase vertical.   First I tried greens for grass, but they almost detracted from the vase.  Then I remembered some extra river rock glass I had lying around.   The river rock reminded me of a fall/winter ground where a mushroom might just pop up.

I needed a sturdier base, so I added the river rock on top of a brown transparent glass and fired the base into an organic form.  The drop vase then went back into the kiln to be tack fused onto the vase.   Since I needed to elevate the drop mold to allow for the base depth under it, I added fiber on top of the drop mold using different depths to add some wavy dimension to the top of the vase.  I took the tack fuse a little too hot and ended up making the vase wonkier which was great because this is exactly what I wanted!

Wonky 'Shroom Fused Glass Drop Vase

Wonky ‘Shroom Fused Glass Drop Vase

Detailed View of Wonky Vase

Detailed View of Wonky Vase

Next step is to try the opposite, dense white as the base with french vanilla on top.

NOTE: I learn much of what I know from reading other websites, classes and blogs and hence, I haven’t really invented anything new here.  But I am sharing what I found to work and not work.  If you have found other ways to do something similar to this, please share.  Thanks!

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Last year, I moved to a small city along the Oregon Coast.  At the time, there was a vacant movie theater which we hoped would some day reopen.  Our wish came true about six months later when the movie theater reopened as City Lights Cinema.  The owners, Michael Falter and Susan Tive, have created a wonderful place to relax while enjoying new release movies as well as independent films and documentaries.  They just celebrated their one year anniversary and I wanted to make a glass plate to help them celebrate.  Hence began my challenges.

Before a movie starts at the Cinema, the City Lights logo is displayed and it always reminds me of my white and black crackle plates which is how I began to envision these plates would develop.  You know me and crackle!   I was reminded though how important it is to take notes as it has been awhile since I made the white and black crackle and I had to try several combinations – french vanilla with dense white, white with grey, white with black, french vanilla with black – before getting a base plate I liked.  I went with the white and black crackle base.

First lesson learned:  Don’t forget to take good notes!  I keep having to remind myself of this especially when I am feeling lazy with the paperwork.

Their logo is representative of the old illuminated tin signs where the letters are formed out of sheet metal and there are light bulbs inside.  The tin color is red with the foreground color being a burnt yellow. 

City Lights Cinema Logo

City Lights Cinema Logo

Since I have been playing recently with powders, I thought perhaps the best way to create the letters would be to create powder wafers for each letter.  I printed their name onto Bullseye thinfire paper using my laser printer.

Second lesson learned:  The toner did not stick very well to thinfire and while it was good enough for my purposes, my printer cartridge needed a little cleaning to get rid of the extra toner that did not stick to the paper.  Perhaps my inkjet or just copying the letters over a light box onto the thinfire would have been better.

Powder Wafers for Letters

Powder Wafers for Letters

I added the powder using a paintbrush to fill in the letters on the thinfire paper and fused to 1325 degrees F.  The letters came out okay but I did notice that each letter shrank from its original size and some where quite thin in places which makes sense as the powder was pulling in during firing.  I then made a small sample powder letter I using the yellow and tried to see how they would look when I stacked them overlapping each other.  I debated if this would give me a nice finish as I wasn’t convinced they would fully fuse into the base.

Adding Powder Wafers Together

Adding Powder Wafers Together

While I was pondering how to do this, my sister-in-law suggested I try something like silk screening asking if there was such a thing in glass.  Why yes there is and it has been on my list of Bullseye classes to take however I know it requires silk screening materials and know how which I current do not possess.  This got me thinking that perhaps I could just put the powder directly on a sheet of glass and make one red and one yellow and then overlay them.

To do this, I use a sheet of cardboard to cut out the logo using this as my stencil for applying the powders to the glass sheets.

Third lesson learned:  Don’t use corrugated cardboard as the cut edges tend to shed.  I learned this several years ago but forgot.  Oh well.

After the crackle base was ready, I added a thin 2mm sheet of white to the back, while sifting the red letters directly onto the top of the crackle and took it to a full fuse.  To create the red letters, I taped the cardboard stencil to the glass, did a light spritz of hair spray and then sifted the red powder.

Cardboard Stencil with Red Powder Sifted onto Base

Cardboard Stencil with Red Powder Sifted onto Base

I then took a clear sheet of glass the same size as the base and using the same stencil and sifting technique adding the yellow letters to this sheet.  Because I wanted the final yellow to be offset from the red, I had to make sure I shifted my cardboard template the correct offset.  For this sheet, I didn’t want the single sheet of glass to pull in at a full fuse, so I only did a tack fuse at 1325 degrees F.

When both were fused, I needed one more fuse to marry the yellow letter sheet to the base.  I had read a good technique for fully fusing two pieces of already fired glass is to add a thin layer of clear powder between them eliminating bubbles that might form as the sheets will heat up at different rates.  So I decided to do this and it worked beautifully!

Fourth lesson learned:  Clear powder between sheets of glass works well to eliminate bubbles between the layers.  

Ready for Final Fuse (Base plate with Clear Powder Between, Clear Sheet with Yellow Letters on Top)

Ready for Final Fuse (Base plate with Clear Powder Between, Clear Sheet with Yellow Letters on Top)

Oh, I almost forgot about the light bulbs both here writing and when firing!  I had previously fired white and french vanilla course frit taking the kiln to 1510 degrees to create dots for my light bulbs.  I decided to go with the french vanilla dots as they showed better than the white dots which seemed almost transparent.  For the final firing pictured above, I layered the base crackle plate, a fine sift of clear powder, then the clear sheet with yellow letters, and finally I placed the dots onto the yellow letters.

City Lights Cinema Anniversary Fused Glass Plate

City Lights Cinema Anniversary Fused Glass Plate

Check it out.  The City Lights plate turned out to be one of my better creations and I was happy to give it to Michael and Susan for their first City Lights Cinema anniversary.

I would love to learn other ways to create the letters, so if you have any suggestions, please share.  Thanks!

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