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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.

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.

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!


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).


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
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


Unique Glass Colors Accents paints:
Glass Glo can be found at AAE Glass:
Kaiser Glass for micas, paints, and classes:

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