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Copyright, All Rights Reserved. All content on this site is copyrighted, Dana Worley, as of the date of posting. Reuse or redistribution of this content is strictly prohibited without express written permission of the author.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Follow-up on Flexi-Glass and Mica Powder

small Christmas plate with mica star
A small Christmas plate with a mica star.
Happy Holidays! It's been a busy few months in the glass studio in preparation for Red Butte Garden's annual glass show and Logan's Annual Winter Gift Market. Add that on top of holiday travel and festivities, and there hasn't been much time for blogging!

As mentioned previously, I planned to incorporate the use of mica powders mixed with Flexi-Glass Medium into some larger pieces. I've done that, and I wanted to share some of the results. Some of the pictures aren't a good as I would like, but many of these were rushed off to market and pictures were taken quickly. Almost all of those with mica incorporated were sold (they were a hit!), so I didn't have an opportunity to properly photograph them.

candle bridge with mica embellishments
Candle bridge

The piece at the right is a candle bridge that is embellished with some pieces torn from the mica sheet. It's quite nice with a round ball candle. I love the amber-colored wispy glass, and the mica complements it beautifully.

small plate with  mica maple leaf
Maple leaf cut from mica

small plate with mica sun and mountains
Moon & mountains, small plate
The bronze mica worked well in these two small (5" square) plates.

black fused glass dish
closeup of mica and Spirit glass inset
Close-up of the sushi plate inset
I used only a small amount of the mica sheet on top of an inset of black and white Spirit glass for this elegant sushi platter -- a testament to the cliche' "less is more". The picture on the right shows the details.

And finally, here's one of my favorite pieces. While I have this listed in my on-line store, it's likely to find a temporary home on my mantle once the holiday decorations are boxed away!

Mica moon and mountains on amber wispy glass
Art Glass Piece - Moon and mountains on amber wispy glass
I love the piece's soothing design achieved with the mica powder sheets and lovely amber glass. When light comes in from behind the piece, the transparent areas of the amber sparkle like gold. 

All of the pieces shown here were created out of the original sheets of mica that I fired. Since then, I've been adding a small amount of alcohol to the mica powder prior to mixing it with the Flexi-Glass, which breaks up the clumps in the powder and results in a smoother texture. 

So far, I really love the results I have seen with this method of using mica powder. Give it a try!

Happy fusing,


System 96 glass is used for all my fused glass creations

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Experimenting with Flexi-Glass Medium and Mica

Cabochon with bronze and gold mica
It seems like I always start my posts off with "a few weeks (or months) ago," "I took a class | read a book | learned a new technique..."  Well, this post is no different!

In May, I joined other members of the Glass Art Guild of Utah in attending a class taught by David Alcala (see previous blog post). One of the techniques David taught us was using his Flexi-Glass Medium.

Flexi-Glass is a thick liquid that you paint on a non-stick sheet, sprinkle glass frit or powder over the sheet, and then fire in a kiln to create thin, flexible "glass" sheets.  These sheets can be cut with scissors, easily torn, or punched, and then fired along with other fusible glass. This lets you create much more intricate shapes than you could ever cut by hand or with a ring saw. You can also mix the Flexi-Glass Medium with mica powders, spread the mixture on the non-stick sheet, and fire.

Flex-Glass Mica sheet
A couple of years ago, I purchased some mica powders. I've had varied success in working with them -- sometimes I like the results and other attempts have resulted in pieces that have hit the scrap bin. This weekend I decided to experiment with creating mica sheets using the Flexi-Glass. I wanted to start small with my experimentation, so I laid out a few cabochons.

In the photo on the right, you can see part of the Flexi-Glass sheet I created. I spread gold mica on one half of the sheet, bronze on the other, and then combined the two in the middle. Below left are the cabs ready to be fired -- I've used a colored glass for the base, placed mica cut-outs on top, and then capped with clear:

Cabochons waiting to be fired
Cabochons, out of the kiln!

I used a fairly "standard" (e.g., fast) firing schedule for the cabs.

The results are on the right.

I was somewhat concerned about the uneven texture of the mica sheet, and about what the pieces would look like after firing. I've had powdered mica "clump" on me, and I wondered if these sheets would do the same. However, I think the cabs turned out nicely. While I don't design a lot of jewelry these days, these little guys will probably end up as pendants.

I've currently got some larger pieces in the "big kiln" waiting for the kiln to be filled up so they can be fired. I'm concerned about bubbles near the mica sheet on larger pieces, so the largest piece right now has small glass chips at each of the four corners (fusers call these chads), to help air to escape during firing. The idea is the middle of the glass relaxes first, and then the glass relaxes outward, pushing air as it goes, resulting in fewer trapped air bubbles. I'll also make sure to include a nice long bubble squeeze in the firing schedule.

As always, I learned a few lessons with this experiment.

  • I have (since) read that adding some alcohol to the Flexi-Glass/mica powder mixture helps with smoothing out the powder. 
  • I like more organic edges on the mica sheet, so next time, I won't spread it so neatly on the non-stick sheet.
  • I should have cut my clear caps a little larger or the mica pieces a little smaller. I knew this, and did it anyway ;). If you look closely, you'll see some rough edges on the cabs as a result of the mica not being completely covered by the glass.

I'm going to continue to play with this technique. When the pieces in the big kiln are completed, I'll post some pictures. In the meantime, if you have any questions, let me know!

Happy fusing,
A finished cab using
Flexi-Glass and mica powders.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Vase Adventures Continue!

Fused glass drop vases
Fused glass drop vases
A few weeks ago while experimenting with the techniques in Paul Tarlow's ebook, "Creative Fused Glass Drop-Out Vessels" (see previous post) I was inspired to design a few more traditional drop vases (I call them traditional because of the rim on the vase). I finally made some time today to get some photographs of the finished vases. I thought I would share the results, along with the firing schedule for the drops.

The round blanks for the vases were all three layers thick with varying diameters and designs, which were fired to fuse the pieces together and then cold-worked to refine the edges. For the second firing to turn the flat slabs of glass into vases, I used the basic drop technique of putting a drop-out mold on kiln-post "stilts" and letting the glass drop through.

Fused glass blank ready for firing
Round blank ready for firing
Completed fused glass vase
Completed drop vase

The kiln set-up for the drop is at the left, and the completed vase is at the right. The finished piece is 6" tall with stand/4.5" without. 
Here's another, larger vase. Dimensions are 4" tall without stand; 7.75" rim diameter, and 5" opening.
Blue wispy fused glass vase without stand
Blue-wispy fused glass vase without stand.
See this piece with its stand in my on-line store.

Mauve vase. The design on the rim is created with hand-painted enamels and various sizes of glass frit. I really like how the light mauve opaque glass stretches as the glass flows to the center of the vase.
Pink and mauve fused glass vase
Pink and mauve fused glass vase
Pink and mauve fused glass vase - closeup
Closer look at the rim. 

Each of the vases was completed in a separate firing, and I watched them carefully at the drop stage of firing. Here's the schedule that worked well for me, in my kiln. Note that the glass I use is System 96; the sheet glass was Spectrum and most of the frit was Uroboros. 

image of firing schedule
Schedule for the two smaller vases. The larger vase had a longer anneal time at 950 deg F. 
Note that the schedule above shows a 60 minute hold at 1250 deg F for the completion of the drop. The two smaller vases took approximately 40 minutes each; the larger one about 20. Total firing for each vase was just under 15 hours!

Firing schedule Excel template courtesy of Paul Tarlow. It can be downloaded from his web site here.

Perhaps this blog post will inspire you to create some drop-out vases of your own. Feel free to leave a comment if there are questions I can answer!

These drop vases and a few other new items will soon be available in my on-line store. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fused Glass Bowls and Vases

Fused glass drop-out style bowl
A few weeks ago I purchased Paul Tarlow's newly released ebook entitled, "Creative Fused Glass Drop-Out Vessels".

A drop-out in glass fusing is a technique using a mold with a hole in the center, where the glass is placed on top, heated to slumping temperatures, and allowed to drop through the hole. This technique creates lovely steep-sided vases and bowls that cannot be achieved with typical slumping techniques. A simple design turns more interesting as the glass pulls and stretches during the drop process.

As with Paul's other publications, the ebook contains background information to help you understand what happens to the glass during the drop, complete instructions on making your own mold, cutting and firing the glass, and cold working the dropped piece. There are variations on the original project and enough great information to get the ideas flowing!

"Galaxy" fused glass drop bowl - submitted for jury
In my own studio, inspiration from this book and from a request by a dear high-school friend, has had me at the cutting table designing drop pieces for bowls and vases. I have finished a couple, including the one at the top of this post that uses Paul's technique. I've had one "flop" -- literally -- where the piece fell through the large 10" square drop and flopped onto the bottom of the kiln (back to the cutting table on that one!) There have also been a few successes. One of newer pieces that I am particularly fond of has been submitted to jury for the Logan Fine Art Gallery's Fall Salon.

I have done dropped vases before, but Paul's book provided some additional information on the technique that I'll be able to use in future vases and bowls, as well as other projects. If you are interested in exploring the technique, pick up a copy at Fused Glass Books. While you're there, take a look at Paul's other books. I've taken away useful techniques from all of those I have purchased.

Happy fusing,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Photo Transfer on Glass

Original image
Several months ago, I purchased Jody Danner Walker's book, "Printmaking Techniques on Glass" (you can find it on the warmglass site). I read the book cover-to-cover like most fused glass books that come into my hands. While I don't always incorporate all the techniques I read about into my art, there is always something to learn and something that sparks new ideas.

One of the techniques I was intrigued with was the author's method of transferring photographs to glass. I love being in nature with my camera, and of course, I love creating with glass. Here was a technique that allowed me to combine the two!

So months after reading the book and putting it away on the shelf, I finally decided to dust off the book and give the method a try. We had recently been backpacking in the Grand Tetons and I had some great photographs (well, OK, I'm biased, but I liked them!). The photo transfer technique relies on the image rendering well in black in white, which was a bit of a challenge, but I finally decided on a picture of wildflowers that was taken while hiking down North Cascade Canyon.

Photo transfer image on fused glass
My first task was to convert the image to black and white. That part was easy with photo editing software. Next, I reversed the image and printed it on our Canon ImageClass MF4890. The toner cartridge for the printer has a fairly high ferrite content, which is one of the secrets of the technique. I then transferred the image from the paper to a piece of glass and fired it. I won't give that secret away -- you'll have to buy Jody's book!

The fired image was 4x6". I decided its final destination would be on a white background tinted with colored frit, so I applied the frit to the white glass and fired. Once that was complete, I placed the fired photo transfer image on the glass (transfer-side up), capped with clear, and fired. The finished piece is to the right (sorry for the poor quality photograph, but I wanted to get a post written while the project was still on my mind). You'll notice that the black turned sepia colored -- that is one of the results of this technique (basically, the iron in the toner fires to a reddish brown).

There are manufacturers who make special photo paper for fusing, but this method has always seemed like "cheating" to me so I've never bothered. I suppose it's similar to the reasons I shy away from pre-made decals. Perhaps there is not much difference, but to me a technique feels more authentic and creative when it uses fewer prepackaged solutions. I like that I can use regular paper, a regular printer, glass, and a few other items I already have in my studio.

I enjoyed experimenting with the technique and plan to do a few more pieces to explore it further. What a great way to get all those images in nature onto glass!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glass Art Guild of Utah - David Alcala

One of the great things about being part of the Glass Art Guild of Utah is the opportunity to attend classes held by industry experts at a local venue. This weekend, the Guild was fortunate enough to capture David Alcala for two one-day classes, and I was fortunate enough to attend one of the days.

David Alcala, demonstrating sand painting
In the glass world David is known for his sand painting technique using glass frit, which is then fired in the kiln. The results are stunning landscape designs full of vibrant color and interest. David is also the creator of the Flexiglass product that can be used to create intricate designs and details in fused glass. David shared his sand painting techniques with us in the class, along with several other exciting ideas. I thought I would share some of those in this post.

David opened the class with a quick introduction, and then jumped right in to the first demonstration -- the basics of "sand painting". At the beginning of class we practiced with colored sand to get the feel of working with the sand and with the different techniques of pouring the sand into the glass frame to create desired effects.
David's first demo nearly complete
"The Barbs" working intently on their practice pieces
(my piece is in the foreground)

Once we watched the demo with sand, David showed us additional techniques using the "real-thing" (fine glass frit). Look at the vibrant colors in the piece. This will be a beautiful landscape.
Sunset demo with glass frit
David also demonstrated one of his new techniques with Flexiglass that can be used to create interesting streamers and other elements for fused glass pieces, and well as using Flexiglass with mica powders and glass frit.
Working with Flexiglass to create
glass streamers
A Flexiglass frit sheet, ready to use

The class looks on during a demo
It was a fun day, packed with a lot of information and creative ideas. I can hardly wait to get into the studio and integrate some of the things I learned today in my own work. And of course, I can't wait to see the finished pieces out of the kiln!

Finished pieces in the kiln, waiting
to be fired. 

Hmm.. the tricky part is getting this to the kiln!

One of my pieces, almost ready for the kiln

Careful with that, Pat!

I've tried to capture some of the highlights from our great day of learning and creating. If you want to learn more about David Alcala's techniques, check out his web site for videos, DVDs, and kits, as well as his upcoming schedule of classes.

I appreciate David's coming to Utah and sharing his knowledge with us, and also our gracious host Lori who provided a comfortable place to work, a tasty lunch, and snacks throughout the day (after all, creativity burns a lot of calories!).

The class, with David Alcala

Kaleen's lovely piece offers a unique
twist on one of the techniques
Mary, the Guild's secretary extraordinaire

Happy fusing!


A big thank you to Uroboros for supplying the glass used in our class!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Culmination of the Week's Work

The finished pieces in the photo tent
This week, like most, I had a lot of glass ideas running around in my head. But, unlike most, I was able to get down into the studio and get something done about them!

Today I did a "photo shoot" so that I could get some pieces posted to my on-line shop, and also for a couple of submissions for a museum show I'm hoping to get an item in. Since I had the camera out, I thought I would share some photos of the finished pieces and a bit about the process to create those pieces.

As I posted on Facebook earlier today, I'm not certain why I make so many of my pieces in blue. Personally, I'm an "earth tone gal", but for some reason, blue glass calls my name. This week's efforts were no exception.

To help give an idea of the process involved in creating these fused glass pieces. Let's take a look at a few of them in the kiln.
Assembled in the in the kiln

A few weeks ago I purchased Paul Tarlow's ebook "Waste Not". The book is about using scrap glass in projects. While the project to the right does not use scrap glass, I did test out one of his techniques described in the book. The finished piece is featured front and center in the picture above.

The photo to the left shows the layout of the standing sculpture (which I am calling "Into the Blue"). Notice that squares of clear were used on the translucent blue to create the lighter blue color in the finished piece. This process is called dilution, and come to think of it, I've read a few things about dilution in another of Paul's books (Fused Glass Tricks with Transparency; see link above). We've worked with dilution in several of the classes I've taken as well.

This photo also shows the brown and white bowl that appears on the right in the finished pieces photo. This bowl is three layers thick -- you'll see it's dammed to keep the glass from flowing and the size of the piece from "growing". One of the interesting experiments with this dam is that I used a few strips of Papyros firing paper (ends secured with transparent tape) to wrap the bowl, and then I finished off with a couple of layers of 1/8" fiber paper. The Papyros left a much smoother edge on the bowl than the fiber paper alone, and I didn't have to worry about my stainless steel pins that hold the fiber paper penetrating the fiber and getting into the melted glass. The Papyros is a little sturdier than traditional Thinfire from Bullseye, and it worked well in this instance.

And finally, the photo on the right shows the pre-fire of the blue sushi dish. This piece uses atechnique of sifting blue opal powdered frit over translucent blue sheet glass, and then topping with coarse clear frit. The result is an interesting pebble pattern. Below, you can see a close-up of the pattern.

Close up of the sushi dish pattern

All of the items discussed in this post are now offered for sale in my Etsy store. Check them out if you are interested!

In another week and a half, I'll be heading out to the annual Glass Craft and Bead Expo being held in Las Vegas. I'm scheduled to take classes Thursday through Sunday, and I'm really excited to learn new techniques, get together with friends I've met in previous years, and meet some new glass friends. I'll be sure to post about anything fun and exciting I learn!

Until next post,


Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 Magless Exchange - Stained Glass Look

Finished "stained glass" magless
For the second year in a row I decided to participate in the Warm Glass forum's annual magless exchange. A "magless" is piece the size of a small magnet, but without the magnet itself. I like to use the exchange as an opportunity to try out an idea I haven't tried yet, and it's also a little like Christmas to open a box full of maglesses from the other participants at the conclusion of the exchange.

I love the depth and interest that is created when opaque and transparent glasses are used together. With this year's magless, I was hoping to create a stained glass look. The idea was to use black opaque glass to frame colorful transparent pieces. 

I created a pattern bar using 1 1/4" x 9 7/8" strips of opaque black for the four sides and for spacers between the transparent layers. Each transparent square consisted of two 3/8" x 9 7/8" stacked strips. I left 6 mm spaces of no glass to allow the black glass to flow between the layers.

Here's the layup of the glass. I've drawn colored rectangles around the transparent layers to help illustrate:

Unfired pattern bar with black &
transparent glass
During construction, I used kiln posts to support the glass and a few drops of unscented, non-aerosol hairspray to help hold the stacked strips in place.
Kiln posts supported the glass
during construction

I needed 48 maglesses, so I created three glass stacks. In the kiln, the stacks were placed side-by-side, separated with fiber paper, and supported with glass dams and kiln furniture.

Pattern bars ready for first fuse

Here is the firing schedule for the pattern bar slabs:


After the slabs were fused, I marked them every 1/2" with silver marker and smeared the marks with a little petroleum jelly to keep them from washing off during cutting.

Marked & ready for cutting

After the pieces were cut, I cleaned them up with a grinder, washed thoroughly, and then fired a second time. For the second firing, I used a schedule similar to the first:


I really like the stained glass look achieved with this glass layup. I can see fusing multiple cut "chunks" together for a vase or wall sconce -- something that allows light to shine though and show off the transparent colors. I still have one slab waiting to be cut up (the three above were my second run -- I did a first run with only one pattern bar to prove the layout). Who knows what it might end up as!


See this blog post for last year's magless!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Iridescent Glass - A Lesson Learned

Kiln carving using red irid glass
Iridescent glass (or "irid" for short)  is a special glass with a metallic surface coating. The coating results in glass with a rainbow shimmer when light reflects off its surface. It's lovely in fused glass pieces and is often used for kiln carving with fiber paper.

I recently purchased a stainless steel "s" curve mold and began thinking about a design for my first piece on this mold. I decided on a strip construction of mostly clear, with translucent blue and teal strips placed randomly throughout. I wanted to build the strip construction on a piece of clear irid glass, firing with the irid side down. I've fired irid side down on fiber paper before. I like the look that the texture from the fiber paper leaves on the surface and how "sparkly" the glass is when viewed from the front.

I cut a 10" x 13" base of irid glass and placed it face down. Next, a border was made for the rectangle with 3/8" wide teal strips placed on edge. I then cut and placed the clear, blue, and teal strips on edge within the frame. If you've done strip construction before, you know this was time consuming. Also, it didn't help that I got half way through, decided my random pattern was not random enough, and started over!

I placed the constructed piece on Spectrum's Papyros, dammed the piece with fiber paper and ceramic dams, and fired it to a full fuse.

As always, I was excited to get the piece out of the kiln. When I removed it I noticed a slight haze across the back, but I thought it was just some of the Papyros stuck to the back that would come off with a good scrubbing. So I scrubbed. And scrubbed. Bought a new scrub brush, soaked in CLR, and scrubbed some more. The haze would  not come off!

Strip construction after first fire

Close-up of haze
I posted a question to the warm glass forum. The forum is full of knowledgeable and talented glass artists who are always willing to answer a question or two. One of the members pointed me to the Bullseye Glass ThinFire technical note which reads:

ThinFire has been used with excellent results in Bullseye’s factory studio for many types of fusing applications. However, it does not work in every application. The one example we have noted to date is this: used in direct contact with iridized glass, ThinFire may cause a reaction resulting in surface pitting.

Surface pitting! Note that I was using Spectrum's Papyros and not Bullseye's Thinfire, though I assume the two are similar in composition. So apparently, while it is safe to fire irid glass coating-side-down on fiber paper (sometimes called fiber blanket) firing coating-side-down on shelf paper can lead to undesirable (and unfortunate!) results.

I'm still trying to decide how to rescue this piece. It could be sanded and refired, but then the irid would be removed. I've also considered etching a pattern over the haze, coating the entire back with coarse clear frit & refiring, painting, etc. It may be that I just slump over the mold "as is" and call it a Keeper!

At any rate, I learned a new lesson about firing on shelf paper. Hopefully, others can benefit from my experience!