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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, March 29, 2015

Magless 2015 - Moab Man!


An Army of Moab Men
An Army of Moab Men
Our creativity is fueled by our experiences, and living in Northern Utah, there are many beautiful and inspiring areas to visit. We're within driving distance of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Canyonlands, and other natural areas too numerous to mention.

I have been working with the crackle technique using glass powders the past several months, since taking a class with Bob Leatherbarrow in October. The results of the technique when using red, yellow, orange, and brown powders remind me of the red rock canyons of Southern Utah. My experiences while exploring Utah and the resemblance of crackle to redrock were my inspiration for this year's Warmglass Magless Exchange (www.warmglass.com).

The first step was to create a 12" square of crackle. On 1/16" fiber paper, I sifted a few spots of Chestnut Brown, then a layer of Sunflower, topped with a layer of Orange (I work with Spectrum's System 96 glass). As I worked, I sprayed the powders with water. One of the things I have found working with powders is that you can somewhat control where the powder will crack by dragging a design through it. In this instance, I used a wide tooth comb to create waves through the powder and then cracked the powder as usual. The piece was capped with clear, put into the kiln with several other crackle pieces, and fired based on a schedule I got from Bob.
Crackle in the kiln.
Crackle in the kiln.
You can see the results of dragging the comb through
the powder more prominently in the circle on the far right. 



Please note: I respect the rights of other artists and those who teach. Bob Leatherbarrow shares some very specific techniques for creating crackle during his classes. I do not share those techniques. However, in the Resources section below, I have provided a link to a crackle tutorial that is freely available.






After the first firing, I cleaned the fiber paper from the back, lightly ground the edges to remove any sharp points, and then cut the piece into 1.5" squares. Note that I scored the glass on the smooth (clear) side. The easiest way I found to run the long strips was to use the push block and button from the Morton Safety Break SB01. Once I had the 12" x 1.5" strips, I broke out the 1.5" squares with my regular Silberschnitt running pliers.

Kaiser paint on left / Glassline paint on right
Kaiser paint on left / Glassline paint on right
The next step was to paint the "pictographs" onto the squares. I fired several test pieces to decide whether to use Kaiser Glass paints or Glassline paints. I wanted to cure the paint and fire polish the edges in one firing. The Glassline paints require a much higher temperature to mature, and as I expected, at fire polish temps the results were grainy.

Both paints have their pros and cons. I like the fast drying time of the Glassline paints (Kaiser paints will take days to dry, unless you use a heat gun), but in general, Kaiser paints produce better results.

Painting the pictographs
Painting the pictographs

I used a brush to paint the body, and then used a toothpick to paint the arms, legs, and spear. My original intent was to paint on the yellow (rougher) side of the crackle to give the pieces a sandstone-like texture. However, I guess I am a shiny-object type of gal, because in the end, I chose to paint on the smoother orange side. I was not completely satisfied with the quality of the image on the rough side, and the black contrasted with the orange was more appealing than on the yellow.

I let the paint dry for several hours, and then sped up the process using a heat gun. One thing to note about Kaiser paints is that they will spread if you dry them with any forceful air, so a heat gun is preferable to a hair dryer. However, take care not to thermal shock the glass!

All of the little "Moab Men", as I call them, were lined up on a piece of Papyrus paper and fired using the following schedule:

Segment
Rate (deg F)
Target Temp
Hold
1
500
1100
15
2
500
1400
5
3
AFAP
950
15

While I call these guys Moab Men, the inspiration was taken from the petroglyphs and pictographs at Buckhorn Wash in San Rafael Swell. We stopped at the wash after a beautiful day of mountain bike riding on a circuitous drive to Moab, Utah. If you're curious about the area, and the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs, I've posted a few shots of interpretive signs below.

Moab Man Maglesses, front & back
Moab Man Maglesses, front & back


I'll be packing these up and shipping them off in the next day or two. I can't wait to get a box full of other entries some time in late April for this year's Magless Exchange. It is always a little like Christmas opening the box and seeing all the creations of the many talented glass artists who share their knowledge on the forum and take the time to share a small piece of their art with the other participants.

Happy fusing!

Dana


Buckhorn Wash
Buckhorn Wash

Buckhorn Wash
Buckhorn Wash - Click to Enlarge









Petroglyphs vs Pictographs
Petroglyphs vs Pictographs










Resources: 

Kaiser Glass Paints http://www.kaiserglass.com/
For a wealth of information on glass fusing, Bullseye Glass offers on-line educational videos (small annual fee, though worth it, I think!). 
Bullseye Kiln-glass Education Online

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Studio Tip: Powdered Frit

Fused glass mosaic with reactive glass
Fused glass mosaic with reactive glass
I follow a couple of fused glass forums, and it seems that the projects people make and the topics discussed come in waves. Several months ago, it was fused glass puddles. Then came pot melts, followed by "flow" pieces. One of the latest hot topics is the crackle technique, which involves using finely ground glass powder (powdered frit) sifted down on fiber paper, moistened, and then manipulated to produce cracks in the powder.

One of the important considerations with glass powders is the reaction that can occur between different colors. Many glass colors contain copper or sulfur. These two chemical elements react with each other and can cause brown, black, or reddish color where they touch. With sheet glass, this can produce some nice effects, such as an outline around the outer edge of a design. This kind of reaction is shown in the example at the beginning of this post. Notice the dark outline around the yellow pieces where they touch the blue and also the red outline around the white (the white is reactive red glass).
Labels show glass color, element, and reaction strength
Labels show glass color, element, and reaction strength

When working with glass powder, however, because of the very fine particles that are being combined (and thus, touching), you can end up with a muddy-colored mess. To help avoid making some disheartening mistakes, one of the first things I did when I got my shipment of glass powders was to write on the top of each container the color, the chemical element, and the strength of the reaction (as specified by the manufacturer -- I use Spectrum System 96 glass).



While this isn't an earth-shattering idea, I think it is good studio practice. When I am creating my powder designs, I don't have to try to remember which glass contains copper or sulfur, nor do I have to go digging for the information through the sheets I've printed or search the manufacturer's web site for the information.

If controlled, reactions with powder can be used to great effect, just like with sheet glass. If uncontrolled, that lovely effect you expect to achieve by layering a thin layer of blue over a yellow powder base might lead to unexpected (and unwanted) results.

Hopefully, this quick studio tip will help you create beautiful fused glass pieces with powder, achieving the results you want.

Happy powder-flinging (as I like to call it!).

Dana

Resources:
Previous blog post about a great class given by Bullseye Glass maven Devon Willis. Includes links to both Bullseye's and Spectrum's reactive glass charts:  http://jestersbaubles.blogspot.com/2014/01/bullseye-reactive-glass.html

Previous blog post about a crackle class with Crackle Master, Bob Leatherbarrow. Includes some resource links about the crackle technique  http://jestersbaubles.blogspot.com/2014/11/fused-glass-crackle-technique-with-bob.html

Great video tutorials by Bullseye glass -- lots of great educational information for the fused glass artist, including two tutorials dedicated to glass reactions (subscription required, but well-worth the low fee, in my opinion). Click this image: 

Bullseye Kiln-glass Education Online




Fused glass crackle in the kiln
Fused glass crackle in the kiln
Crackle pieces ready for the final slumping. Notice the colorful piece on the left. It includes:

  • blue (copper)
  • white (no reaction)
  • yellow (sulfur)
  • red (sulfur)
  • orange (sulfur) 
I separated the blue & yellow (which would have reacted), using a layer of white between them. That's just one way of controlling reactions in powder.