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Posts Tagged ‘Warm Glass’

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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Glass and metal are next in my combining glass series.

Fused Glass on Stainless Steel Wall Art

Fused Glass on Stainless Steel Wall Art

I was recently at a metal supply store in Portland and bought a couple of scrap pieces of stainless steel.  To make my first attempt easy, I started with the smaller piece so I didn’t have to figure out how best to cut the metal.  I made my glass piece 2’ shorter than the metal on all sides.  That was the easy part.

I knew I needed to do something with the stainless steel to make it look nice. While in general stainless steel has a nice finish, it had scratches and smudge marks.  First I sanded it to remove the scratches.  Then I used an angle grinder and started playing with flap discs of various grits trying to add an artsy finish to the stainless steel.  I still wasn’t happy with my results and so my husband suggested I try a wire brush on the angle grinder and I liked the results when I stopped trying to make things perfect and just went for truly artsy.

I had grappled for weeks with how I was going to hang the finished piece.  If I hadn’t already made the glass piece the perfect size, my husband suggested we take the top edge and fold it over forming a C and then put a hole in that which then one could use to fasten to the wall.  Maybe for a future piece.  For this one, I finally decided to cut a piece of wood about the same size as the glass, paint it black, add a keyhole with the router for hanging with a screw and then attach it to the backside of the metal.

You can see a trend in my trying to get this done.  I solve one problem only to think of another.  Now how to glue the pieces together.  I looked at epoxies, silicone, liquid nails and VHB (very high bond) tapes.  If I held the glass up to the metal, I could see that the metal was not completely flat, and I was concerned in getting everything to hold together well.  I decided I needed a little bit of a give in the attachment.  I have a silicone that is made specifically for attaching metal to wood and glass (http://www.caulkyourhome.com/ge-silicone-II-aluminum-and-metal.php) and have used on plant stakes with success so decided to go with silicone.

Side view of Glass, Metal and Wood after Attaching

Side view of Glass, Metal and Wood after Attaching

The day after I attached everything together, my husband woke up remembering that different kinds of metals can react with each other and cause what is called a galvanic reaction potentially making the stainless steel rust.  This would not be a problem if the wire brush I had used had only been used on stainless steel, but alas it had not and since it was putting small tiny scratches in the surface of my metal, it could also leave other metal pieces behind from previous uses.  Hmm, I was definitely not going to sell this piece to anyone then.  I decided to hang it in my bathroom where there is the most moisture and see if over time, it did indeed develop rust.

Next dilemma, since this might only be a temporary hang in the bathroom, I didn’t want to put a screw in the wall and would rather use a picture hanger which would only be a tiny hole in the wall.  I bent the picture hangar and chiseled some wood out of the back piece trying to make the hangar fit snug in my keyhole and have the piece lie nicely on the wall, but in the end I was concerned that it was not sturdy enough and might fall on the counter.  I fell back to traditional picture hanging and attached screw eyes into the wood back, added picture wire between them and now it is hung quite sturdily.   The good part of this whole process is that it made me realize that a customer may not want to put a screw in their wall either and so perhaps my keyhole solution was not the right choice even though it is a really sturdy option.

Back of Piece for Hanging

Back of Piece for Hanging

The lessons learned on this project are numerous and I think many still to come, but I really want to do more of these.

1.  This probably goes without saying, but think about the whole process before getting started and figure out how you are going to solve each issue.  I still consider finding the right way to hang it my biggest issue and want to try the metal bending method with my next piece.

2.  Silicone moves a lot for a few minutes after applying and attaching so perhaps next time I will try VHB with the goal of having each piece stick exactly where I place it the first time.

3.  I had tried to attach the front (glass) and back (wood) to the metal in one step and then use clamps to hold them together hoping this would make it easier to get all pieces to hold together flat.  However, I had a really hard time with the silicone still moving a little to get everything lined up and stuck where I wanted it and didn’t really succeed.  Next time, I will attach them in two steps.

4.  Understand your materials and tools meaning if I am going to continue to use stainless steel, I guess I need to purchase new grinder attachments that are labeled only for use on stainless steel.

If any of my readers have suggestions for how to hang which would be appealing to most customers, I would love to hear from you.  Thanks!

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I seem to be obsessed these days with combining different materials with glass as I try to learn how to work with mixing materials.  One surprising but very exciting combination was ceramics.  Recently I started a ceramics class at Alissa Clark’s Clayworks and one day had this gestalt about what might look cool.

Fused Glass and Ceramics Plate

Fused Glass and Ceramics Plate

My next visit to her studio, I made a ceramics plate leaving the center unglazed where I would later add the glass.    For some reason I had thought that the glass would stick to the ceramics if I left the ceramics unglazed.  Why did I think this?  For kiln shelves and ceramic molds, if you don’t prime them, your glass will stick.  Right?  After getting back the fired and glazed ceramics plate, I added my inset of glass and fired the piece to 1200 degrees F.  It didn’t stick.  Hmm.

My husband likes it better this way as it is easier to clean the glass.  Positive thinking!  I had posted a question to a glass group on Facebook asking about combining glass and ceramics and several responded that it would work but would probably not be food safe as the glass would potentially crack.  In hindsight, perhaps they were thinking I would fire this hotter.

I guess this experiment needs more testing.  Alissa has offered to fire a piece in one of her ceramics kilns and take the combo of ceramics and glass up to a higher temperature than my glass kiln will fire.  I will let you know how this experiment turns out.

For now, I will just enjoy this piece I made as I really like the black and white combo of glass and ceramics!

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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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My First Art Festival

My First Art Festival

Last weekend was my first art festival and craft show where I set up a booth to sell my art glass.  It was a wonderful experience.  My hopeful goal was just to sell something as I would hate to do all the work, sit there for two days and not sell anything.  My secret goal, of course, was to sell lots, (1) just because it would make me feel good and (2) I didn’t want to cart all the unsold items home!  I would say, I was some where in between the two goals probably closer to the first.  I covered my costs which included having to buy things like tablecloths and a sign so that was very good.

While getting ready for the show, booth layout was probably the most stressful for me.  I knew I needed some dimension meaning not just a flat table and kept trying to figure out how to add this.  We had some IKEA shelves we were no longer using and my husband suggested cutting one in half which I could then put on the table as a shelf system and then remake the other to hang earrings.  We used some old antenna wire between the peg holes for the earning hangers and then used twine and S hooks to hang sun catchers.  I also brought the other shelf unit just in case, and we ended up setting it up at the back of the booth.

IKEA Shelf Repurposed for Earring Stand

IKEA Shelf Repurposed for Earring Stand

I hadn’t thought I would need help sitting there for the two days, but my sister-in-law joined me both days and it was wonderful to have someone better at engaging people, keeping me company, and also helping wrap as I was doing the money transactions.  Thanks, Kim!

The best part of the weekend was all the valuable lessons learned from listening to people’s comments, both those they intended me to hear and those they did not.  Here are some of the lessons learned:

  1. I have a mold for spoon rests and have made several over the years, however I heard a couple of people indicate it was just too big. Time to buy a smaller mold.
  2. I wanted to offer choices so I put some pendants on chains and some on cards without chains (for a few less dollars).  Regardless of how the pendant was displayed, people always wanted a chain, but often of their choice.  So I think it would be better to somehow display so people could pick the pendant and then pick the chain.
  3. A corollary to #2 is that I only had chains that went up to 18” and many people needed a larger size.  So I have ordered some that are 22”-24” for the future.
  4. At first we hung some pendants onto the wooden shelves on the table.  But we noticed that everyone tended to just look down and so we moved them all to the table to get seen.  I still think dimension is good, but am not quite sure how to set things up so that people look at everything.
  5. My last lesson was to talk to others who had done the show before and listen to their advice.  Several people indicated that while they liked the show and it was a good show, it was mostly attended by visitors who were in town more for the festivities and to eat and drink rather than open their wallets to items.  So while I really prefer to make the larger plates, I made sure to have lots of small items on hand like pendants, small dishes, soap dishes, picture frames and so forth.  And these were exactly the items I sold.

Overall well worth the experience to give this a try and perhaps one day I will do another show, maybe for the Holidays.

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