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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Glass Crackle Christmas

Amber-backed almond crackle with amber powder design.
10" Fused glass crackle bowl.
Amber-backed almond crackle
with amber powder design.
artist - Dana Worley
Christmas came early for fused glass enthusiasts this year with Bob Leatherbarrow's release of his first book, "Introduction to Kilnformed Glass Powders". Bob is the master (and discoverer) of the fused glass crackle technique. His secrets on how to create this beautiful art form have been in demand for years.

As I have written before, I have been fortunate enough to take classes with Bob at his studio on Salt Spring Island. I found Bob to be a thorough, patient teacher, who generously shares his knowledge with a dash of wry humor thrown in. Bob's first book is a reflection of his classes -- a lot of detailed information delivered concisely and comprehensively, while still being engaging and fun.

Bob begins by discussing how he applies the scientific method to experimenting with fused glass. I think this discussion alone is worth the small price of the book for those who will consider it when things in the kiln don't quite turn out as they planned. Bob then covers the details of the crackle process, color considerations, cold-working, and finally, great information on creating and using design wafers. (In fact, Bob covers everything you need to know to create the 5" red bowl below, right.)
5" crackle bowl. Yellow back, brown & red front with powder wafer design.
5" crackle bowl. Yellow back; brown
& red front. Powder wafer design.
artist - Dana Worley, made in
Bob's fused glass crackle class

While there are a couple of free tutorials and an ebook or two on the fused glass crackle technique, I have found them lacking in detail when it comes to the process of creating an "excellent crackle". (And, as a technical writer, I've found some of them annoyingly poorly written, but maybe that's just me...) While reading Bob's book, I felt as if I were sitting back in his workshop again, soaking up all of the knowledge he so generously shares. And even though I've taken the class covered by the book, I found it a good refresher on some points that I either forgot or missed the first time around.

Bob's book is a great addition to your fused glass library. It's thorough, well-written, and challenges you to take this technique to the next level. Bob is working on subsequent books, and I can't wait to see what new secrets he shares!

Happy holidays,
Dana

Learn more! 

Bob Leatherbarrow, Leatherbarrow Glass Studio http://www.leatherbarrowglass.com/

Want to learn more about fusing? Bullseye Glass has excellent educational videos!
Bullseye Kiln-glass Education Online
5" fused glass crackle bowl. Mauve & pewter powders; blue iridescent glass backing.
5" fused glass crackle bowl.
Mauve & pewter powders;
blue iridescent glass backing.
artist - Dana Worley (sold)





I use Spectrum's System 96 in all of my work: http://system96.com/




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Along the Path

One of my goals for this journey I call glass is learning and experimenting with new techniques. This is pointed out clearly to me when I'm at an art fair and I get the occasional comment along the lines of, "Oh... they are all so..." [big pause] "...different." I smile sheepishly and say "thank you", and wonder if the comment was a compliment or uttered in dismay at my array of mish-mashed offerings.

But learning and experimenting make me happy and keep me excited about my work, and I'm sure that my own style will emerge from all the ideas I continue to stuff in my head. Who knows, someday when I am long gone maybe someone will exclaim, "Look! There's a Monet, and a Picasso, and a Dana". Well, ok, maybe not [smile].

Anyway, the past few weeks I've been continuing along my path of experimentation (see my previous post on micas), including working with powders. Several months ago I watched a video produced by Bullseye Glass that showed one of their resident artists, Ted Sawyer, in action and explaining his process along the way. I decided to give some of his techniques from the video a try. Following is a picture of the pieces ready for firing in the kiln (center), along with the results of each.

Notes:
B really wasn't from a technique shown in the video, other than it worked with the same firing schedule as the others. 
I used two sheets of glass for each piece and deviated fairly significantly from the firing schedules discussed in the video, aside from the top firing temp. 

The texture imparted to the glass with this technique adds a lot of interest to the finished pieces. I'm excited about the possibilities with this and will continue working with this technique (along with all the others!) I will mount all of these, as is, either in standing frames or wall-mounted.

Want to learn more? Check the Resources section below, and good luck with your own creative journey!

Dana

Here's  a Studio Tip that might be helpful. Part of the technique described in the video includes using Glastac. I hate to admit it (sorry, Bullseye!), but I don't have Glastac. However, I think I came up with an acceptable substitute using Klyr-Fire mixed with off-the-shelf aloe vera gel. I mixed it to what I thought was a good consistency for the technique described in the video (about 1/4 aloe and the rest Klyr-Fire).

Resources: 

I use System 96 glass & powders

Bullseye Educational Videos, look for the video entitled "Artists at Work: Ted Sawyer" (subscription required, though I think it is worth the small annual fee)



Monday, September 7, 2015

Studio Tip: Working with Mica

Experimenting with Super Spray and mica powders
Experimenting with Super
Spray and mica powders
I am always looking for ways to work with mica powders. I love the shimmer, but I often struggle with ways to use it in fused glass. Typically, when mica is sifted on top of the glass, only the very bottom layer of mica in contact with the glass will stick. A lot of your mica powder gets washed down the drain when the glass is cleaned. Several manufacturers have created products that capture or simulate the shimmer of mica, such as Unique Class Colors Accents paints, Glass Glo, and Glassline Metallic paints. These are all good products, but what if you already have a supply of mica powders?

In thinking about the problem of mica not sticking to glass, it occurred to me that the mica would be more likely to stick if the glass were "softer" during firing. And glass fusers know that a devitrification agent like Fuse Master's Super Spray does just that -- it allows the glass to soften more quickly than it would otherwise at the same temperature. This thought led to experimenting with Super Spray and mica powders. Following are the results of my experiments.

Mica dusted over the glass with some areas coated with Super Spray
Mica dusted over the glass with
some areas coated with Super Spray



In this first piece, I brushed Super Spray over the glass in some areas, sprinkled mica powder over the entire surface while the Super Spray was still wet, and fired. The areas of glass that had the coating of Super Spray held on to the mica a lot better.





Mica and Super Spray "paint" applied to the glass with a palette knife
Mica and Super Spray "paint" applied
to the glass with a palette knife




In the next instance, I mixed the Super Spray and mica powder together, making a "paint" that I spread onto the glass with a palette knife (it was a little thick... just short of being a paste rather than paint). I really like the look of this swirled piece.







Encouraged by my results, I decided to work on a larger piece with color. Here is a piece of Spectrum's Fuser Reserve with both gold and copper mica powder mixed with Super Spray and brushed on:

Mica painted on the glass before firing
Mica painted on the glass before firing

Mica after the firing
Mica after the firing

Close-up of the mica, which partially burned away
Close-up of the mica, which partially burned away

Oops! What happened here? As you can see, my original coat of the mica was a little too thin. On the darker glass, it "disappeared" except in places where the mica was thicker. (This piece will be sandblasted and re-fired for another day.) The gold mica also lightened up in color significantly.


Comparison: Super Spray mixed with Sepp Leaf & Kaiser Mica powders
Comparison:
Super Spray mixed with Sepp Leaf & Kaiser Mica powders




I have both Sepp Leaf and Kaiser mica powders. My first assumption with the Fusers Reserve piece above was that perhaps the Kaiser mica powders had burned off more readily than the Sepp Leaf (Sepp had been used in all my tests prior to this piece). Another test piece (at right), however, showed that both mica powders performed similarly (Sepp on the left and Kaiser on the right).





I think mixing mica powders with Super Spray has some possibilities, and it is something I will explore more in the future. In the meantime, as a point of comparison, here's a completed project that uses Unique Glass Colors Accents paint on the rim of an 8" bowl. Also, if you ever get the chance to take classes from Barry Kaiser of Kaiser Glass (and the Kaiser micas), he has some great techniques for making mica adhere to the glass.

I hope this information has sparked some ideas on how you can use mica powders in your work. Happy fusing! Dana
8" flower bowl with UGC Accents rim


Resources

Unique Glass Colors Accents paints: http://uniqueglasscolors.com/accents.php
Glass Glo can be found at AAE Glass: https://www.aaeglass.com/
Kaiser Glass for micas, paints, and classes: http://kaiserglass.com/

Want to learn more about fusing? Check out Bullseye Glass On-Line Educational Videos!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Harvest Moon - Repurposing a Fused Glass Texture Tile

Harvest Moon Fused Glass Tile
Harvest Moon Fused Glass Tile
Sometimes, things happens. A mold gets dropped, an edge gets knocked against a hard surface, stress occurs during a firing, or a mold arrives broken in shipment. Before you give up and toss out a broken mold or texture tile, think about other ways you can use the pieces that remain.

Recently one of my texture molds that is used for making coasters had a little mishap. As I looked at the broken pieces wondering what to do with them, the half circle reminded me of a moon. I decided to create a moon and mountain scene -- below are the steps I followed.

Broken texture tile
Broken texture tile

Tutorial

The broken mold was a GM137 Weave Texture coaster mold from Creative Paradise (link below). First, I kiln-washed the largest remaining piece. There was still a lot of tile left to work with, though it certainly couldn't be used for its original purpose!

Next, I cut pieces of 1/8" fiber paper into the shape of mountains. On one of my recent walks, I picked up some nice grasses and they had been drying on my workbench. I arranged these on top of the mold and fiber paper until I had a layout that I thought looked pleasing. Once I was happy with the layout, I removed the grasses, held them over a piece of paper, sprayed them with hairspray, and dusted them with a chestnut brown fine frit.

Designing the layout
Designing the layout
 
Frit coated grasses
Frit coated grasses













I chose a System 96 Wissmach Luminescent glass in transparent honey.Wissmach's Luminescent glasses are excellent for kiln-carving and texture tile applications. Their coating is typically more vibrant than many of the iridescent glasses, they intensify when fired coating-side down, and are generally less expensive than irids. While not suitable for all applications (i.e., the luminescence basically disappears when capped), this is the kind of application where the glass shines (pun intended!). Here is the layup going into the kiln:

  1. two "mountain ranges" cut from fiber paper, one placed on top of the other to create dimension, and placed on top of the mold
  2. grass on top of the fiber paper (grass, frit-side towards glass)
  3. single layer of honey, coating side down
  4. topped with a layer of Spectrum System 96 clear
Layup, going into the kiln
Layup, going into the kiln

I fired this piece in a kiln with several other pieces of glass, using one of my "go-to" firing schedules:

Segment
Rate
Temp
Hold
1
300
1100
30
2
50
1250
60
3
300
1460
15
4
1500
950
90
5
100
700
00

Wissmach Luminescent -  Harvest Moon Fused Glass tile
Wissmach Luminescent -
Harvest Moon Fused Glass tile
As you can see from the photos to the right and at the top of this page, the fired piece has a lot of beautiful color from the Wissmach glass, and I think the project is a great way to repurpose a broken texture tile.

This piece is approx. 6.5 inches square. For photographing I have this piece in a metal stand, but I plan to fabricate a base for it.

I hope this project sparks some ideas for how you may be able to salvage a broken mold, and also inspires you to check out Wissmach's Luminescent glasses!

Happy fusing,

Dana

Resources:

Creative Paradise's web site: http://www.creativeparadiseglass.com/
Mold: GM137

Wissmach System 96 Glass: http://wissmachglass.com/wissmach96.html
Wissmach Glass can be found at all your favorite glass suppliers!
 
Learn More About Glass Fusing! Bullseye Glass offers a great educational video series for a small annual subscription fee:



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fused Glass Koi Platter

Close-up of painted koi
Close-up of painted koi
Recently I created a koi platter using paints from Unique Glass Color (UGC) and a Creative Paradise texture tile. I planned to create a short tutorial, so I took pictures of the process along the way. Today I received a few questions about the process, so it's time to write a blog post!

The koi texture tile is 13x7". I often cut the glass for this size of tile ~6 x 12", so that I don't have to worry about the glass migrating over the edges (which will break the glass and potentially damage the tile). That's really not a concern with this piece, but it can be a concern if you add a lot of frit or larger pieces of glass that increase the overall volume of the glass.

Lightly penciled registration marks.
Lightly penciled registration marks.

Painting

For this piece I wanted all of my color to come from the UGC paints, so I used clear glass for both the top and bottom layers. I placed my glass pieces, one at a time, on top of the texture tile and used the tile as a guide for where to apply the paint. Note: I use System 96 glass.

With a pencil, I put registration marks on the tile so when I removed the glass I could replace it back in the correct spot.

Water background. Bottom layer of glass.
Water background.
Bottom layer of glass.




For the water background, I applied Unique Glass Colors NT paints and Artisan paints on the bottom layer of glass. The Artisan paints produce lovely bubbles when fired between two layers of glass.






Koi fish. Top layer of glass.
Koi fish.
Top layer of glass.

The koi fish were painted on the top layer of glass. The white paint is an NT called White Diamond, which when fired, produces a lovely white shimmer.

After painting the fish on the top side, I filled in some bare spots on the back side with the White Diamond.





Glass pieces placed on texture tile.
Glass pieces placed on texture tile.



Once the paint was dry, I placed the two pieces of glass on top of the texture tile, using the registration marks as a guide.






Firing 

Many people prefuse the layers and then fire the resulting piece a second time on the texture tile. I always fuse my layers of glass directly on the texture tile. Below is the schedule I used. Note the slow ramp in Segment two, up to 1250 deg F with a 60 minute hold. This is the bubble squeeze. If I were firing this piece by itself, I might consider omitting this segment since I was using bubble paints and, well, bubbles were desirable in this piece!
In the kiln, ready to fire.
In the kiln, ready to fire.

Seg
Rate
Target
Soak
1
300
1100
30
2
50
1250
60
3
500
1460
15
4
1500
950
90
5
100
700
00

After the first firing, I slumped the piece in an 11.5 inch Origami Bowl Mold from Slumpys (I no longer see this particular mold on their site, but here is a link to the mold on Amazon).
Origami Bowl Mold for slump.
Origami Bowl Mold for slump.

Note that this is a square mold, but I'm firing a rectangle. I centered the glass within the mold and fired away! Here is the firing schedule for the slump:
Ready to slump. The rectangular koi platter was  centered on top of the square mold and fired.
Ready to slump. The rectangular koi platter was
centered on top of the square mold and fired. 

Seg
Rate
Target
Soak
1
200
1100
40
2
300
1225
10
3
1500
950
120
4
100
700
00








Finished koi platter.
Finished koi platter. 

The platter sits nicely on the table. No cold working needed!
The platter sits nicely on the table. No cold working needed!


 And finally, here are some pictures of the finished piece. The origami mold worked out well with the koi design.

This platter sold at the art fair I attended a few weeks later.






I hope this short tutorial has been useful, and helps you with your work with texture tiles and paints. Don't forget to visit the Creative Paradise web site for this and many other texture tiles, and the UGC web site for your paints!

Happy fusing,  Dana
Close-up of the painted koi water. Bubbles and sparkle!
Close-up of the painted koi and water.
Bubbles and sparkle!




















Resources:
Creative Paradise's web site for texture tiles and other molds: http://www.creativeparadiseglass.com/
Unique Glass Color Paints: http://uniqueglasscolors.com/

Want to learn more about fusing? Visit Bullseye Glass's site for Educational Videos! (available for a small subscription fee). Click on the banner to learn more:
Bullseye Kiln-glass Education Online

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Coasting into Summer

Wine coaster using GM36
Wine coaster using GM36
For the past few summers I've done a wonderful outdoor art show called Art on the Lawn. This spring I worked steadily to create new items using some of the latest techniques I've been experimenting with. This, along with a commission piece, has kept me busy.

As I loaded up the kiln for the final slump firing to finish the commission piece, I also fired a few other pieces that I've been meaning to slump. Included in the load was this great little wine coaster, using Creative Paradise's GM36 Retro Plate mold. The center circle is the perfect size for a bottle of wine, and the finish piece sits firmly on the table (no coldworking required!). The firing schedule for this load was:

1
150
1100
40
2
300
1225
15
3
1500
950
120
4
100
700
00

The schedule is for System 96 glass, and it was fairly conservative because of the thicker commission piece. However, it worked well for this wine coaster, too.
Finished fused glass piece and GM36 fusing mold
Finished fused glass piece and GM36 fusing mold

Now that the work is done it's time to sit back and coast into summer!

Cheers!

Dana


Resources: 

Creative Paradise web site: http://www.creativeparadiseglass.com/

Learn more about fusing with Bullseye Glass's Educational Videos!

Bullseye Kiln-glass Education Online