Friday, January 31, 2014

What's New: Tiny Fused Glass Plates


If you've been reading my blog, you know that I'm on a path to use up my excess glass -- this not only includes clear and smaller sheet glass but also the leftover bits from prior work.  Often, because I like the glass design, I save it hoping that the next time I make similar glass, I might be able to incorporate it.  However, over time the only thing that I've done is to accumulate lots of little bits of glass.  Until now.  By sizing down, I have just enough to make smaller 4" x 6" plates.  And, since I have a small accumulation of glass, I am able to make a wide variety of designs -- I've already made 15 so far!  These tiny plates are not only a nice size for gifts but also fun to make.  I'm happy with how these turned out.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! New Fused Glass Ornaments

Merry Christmas! By now, I'm sure those who of you who put up a Christmas tree already have it decorated - mine's been up since just after Thanksgiving.  But, in the spirit of the holiday, I just wanted to share with you some of the new fused glass Christmas ornaments that I made this year.

Two of the new ornaments involve wire wrapping.  The first is a take off on my wire-wrapped Christmas tree pendants.



The base is made from bits of green glass and the balls are made from pieces of glass rod that have been fired at a high temperature to become round.  I played around with the wire wrapping a bit to get a design that I liked -- keeping in mind that the challenge with wire wrapping glass is how to get the wire to stay firmly in place.  Unlike the pendant, which has grooves around the outside, the ornament uses two holes at the top and the bottom to anchor the wire, while the wire embellishes the ornament as garland and decor at the top and bottom.


The next set of ornaments are two different versions of hearts - one wire wrapped and the other not.  Like with the tree, I needed to play around with the wire-wrapping of the curved heart.  I found that the hole at the top did the trick to help anchor the wire in place.  The base of the speckled heart is simply clear glass that's been sprinkled with red, pink and white frit to create a marbled effect.  This also helps keep the glass light enough to hang on a Christmas tree.


The second heart is also created to be light, using just a single strip of clear thin glass to fused the three different colors (red transparent, red opaque and red/green fracture streamer) together.

I've been making ornaments since 2008 and try to add a few new ones every year.  This year, I found that I have nearly one ornament for every branch (16) of my wire Christmas tree, even though I retired some of the ornaments over the year!  Looking forward to figuring out what the new ones will be for next year.  In the meantime, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Working with Powders to Make Fused Glass Votives

In my prior post, I shared how I made flower plates using clear glass and powders.  The process for making the votives is pretty similar with a couple of adjustments, the main one is that the technique calls for draping rather than slumping. 

As mentioned, I'm on a quest to use up my excess scrap glass.  As I have smaller pieces than what I used for the flower plates, I decided to make petal votives.  I cut out my leaf or petal pattern based on the size of the glass - for this project, I had 3 sizes of petals.  Then I applied the excess powder from the flower plates, which was really a blend of all the colors that I used previously grouped by primary color (e.g. red, green, blue).  After these are fired, instead of the colored dots, I used clear ones to create a design.







The dots are made from clear frit that I fused to 1500 with a 45 minute hold.  I picked out similar sized dots to create a design on the petal and put these back into the kiln to tack fuse before they were draped onto stainless steel votive cups that have been kilnwashed.  The kilnwash needs to be applied while the stainless steel is hot.  What I do is to heat them with a blow dryer but you can also heat them in the kiln to 500 degree and then apply the kilnwash.


The draping process takes a lot longer than slumping as you want to have a uniform drape.  I could have tried something faster as these are small and have open spaces but went with something conservative (100 degrees/hr to 1225) as I didn't want to use up kiln time to test out a different schedule.  And, when I opened the kiln, I was very happy with the outcome for the most part.  Some of them didn't drape evenly, which was probably a result of not paying more attention when I tack fused them together.  I really like the look of the clear dots.  Let me know what you think.





Friday, November 29, 2013

Working with Powders to Make Fused Glass Flower Plates

I mentioned that I'm working on using up my scrap glass.  Actually, anything less than a square foot is typically referred to as scrap, so the pieces can be either fairly large or small.  For me, I have a lot that are approximately the same size -- which is the result of making coaster sets.  As I just purchased a new box of bumpons, I figure that I've made over 175 coaster sets, which means a lot of excess scrap accumulated over time.  So, what I decided to do is to make flower plates.






To start, I gather my glass and cut a pattern of the a petal from a manila folder based on the size of the glass as well as the size of the mold that I plan to use.

.



As with cutting circles, the more excess you have between the size of the pattern and the total glass size, the cleaner the cut.  So, there's a balance between trying to use up as much of the glass as possible and the amount of extra work you want to do (e.g. using grosing pliers to pull off the excess and grinding the sides smooth).




Next I put down some paper to catch the powder and set up a little station to elevate the glass, which makes it easier to lift up the glass to transfer it to the kiln shelf.




After I'm done, I load the kiln and tack fuse to 1365 degrees.  And, I save the power to use in another project.  When the petals come out, I tack fuse the petals together and use the dots that I made earlier as the center.  I fire this to 1375 degrees but now because the entire piece is thicker, I need a longer annealing hold, which for this project was 2 hours.



Tips:

  • If you're new to free form cutting, start with the larger size glass first, which makes for a cleaner break and less coldworking. You'll get better cutting the same pattern with practice, so cutting with less excess glass becomes easier.
  • Because the petals are symmetrical, I scored one half on one side and then flipped the glass to score the other half.  This allowed me to have nice score lines without crossing an existing score which can dull the cutter.
  • Wear latex gloves if you have them -- when I didn't, it still felt like I had powder on my hands no matter how much I washed them afterwards.
  • Wear a respirator - this is a must when dealing with powder.
  • Don't use hairspray to try to adhere the powder afterwards - it just clumps up and the truth is that you don't need it.
  • Do use hairspray to help the dots and petals stay in place as you transport the shelf to the kiln.
  • While I intended to make the flowers using the same colored petals, I found that I liked them better when there was a contrast between the top and bottom petals.
  • Take notes on how much powder you use -- for me, the right amount is 4 passes but it can vary based on how much powder you put on with each pass.
So far, I've made 16 of these, each with 14 petals, which means that I've used 224 pieces of scrap glass!  At the same time, I now have a bin with quite a bit of the excess glass from the sides.  So, I'm making progress but still have a way to go.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scrap Challenge - Progress Report

Well, it's been 1 month that I've been working on using up my excess glass (as well as stocking up for the holidays).  Here's what I've made so far:
  • Patterned glass to be cut up and used in future work.  Examples here and here.
  • Pattern glass that will be the base for wire wrapped Christmas tree ornaments.  I'll post the finished photo of these as I've added some red balls but still need to wire wrap these.
  • Snowflake ornaments

  • Frit casting with prior made frit  
  • Frit (for wreath ornaments, heart ornaments and clear dots)
  • Dots (for use in plates and votives).  I'll post the finished product later next month.




Here's what I learned:

  • I haven't made a dent in the amount of scrap glass I have.  I think I'll still be using up my scrap at the beginning of next year.  I guess it took me a while to accumulate this, so I shouldn't think it will be gone overnight.
  • Dots are a great way to use up scraps of already fused glass, especially if you have a tile saw.
  • And, the dots I made with the clear frit turned out to be round even in instances where the frit didn't seem round or even square.  
  • When making dots, it's a much easier clean up when using Papyros shelf paper rather than Thinfire.
I still have a long way to go.  However, I should be able to post the results of a lot of this work within the next month.  And, if you have any suggestions for what to do with excess glass, please let me know!!