Positive Reactions: New Life for an Old Piece

Close up of the reaction
A fused glass forum that I participate in has a monthly challenge, where members post a picture of their work that was completed during the month. At the end of the month, voting takes place to choose the "best of the best". Occasionally there is a theme for the challenge such as a particular color palette, holiday, or activity. This month's challenge was to take a piece that didn't quite turn out as you would have like and rework it into a new creation.

Earlier this week I headed into my spare-bedroom-turned-glass-studio, and sat in the floor and stared at my box of rejects. I failed to come up with any brilliant ideas to meet the challenge, so I finally decided to work on something different.

When I purchased the frit I used in my maglesses I picked up some Uroboros reactive red. Reactive glass is glass that when fused with a particular color reacts in such a way that there is a halo where the two glasses meet. Reactive reds react with glass colors that contain copper -- usually blues and greens. Uroboros has a nice chart on their web site that shows reactions between their reactive red and various blues and greens. However, I didn't find a lot of additional information where other glass fusers had used this frit in their work, so I thought I would do some test pieces and write up notes for the blog. I pulled out some glass pieces with blues and greens and began cutting.

Later the next afternoon while doing something completely different, I had a flash of creativity (I recently read an article about that), and realized that I had the perfect piece in my reject box to both create something for the monthly challenge and experiment with the reactive red.

The piece was a small sky blue sushi dish that I had tried tack fusing and slumping in the same firing. A 5" square was cut of solid sky blue opal, and I topped it with a coarse sky blue translucent frit. Unfortunately, I crashed cooled the kiln a little too aggressively when trying to maintain the shape of my tack fuse, and the piece cracked in half.

Chunks of glass placed on a ground of white
Back in my studio, I put the dish in two zip lock baggies and headed out to the garage with a hammer (the fun part!) to make some new chunky frit. Once crushed, I placed the frit around the edges of a piece of white, stacked on a piece of clear. I then sprinkled the red reactive on the blue chunks, and cleaned up any stray frit and chunks by sweeping them off with a small paint brush.

I took the piece to a full fuse, and then did a second firing to slump it into a 7 inch square "Hanna" mold.

I really like the look of the two complementary frits and the brownish/red outline created around the blues because of the reaction. The white background glass sets it off. I still have a couple of more glass pieces cut that I'll experiment further with the reactive red. One is a light grey (Spectrum calls it stone), and I'm wondering if there is enough copper in the grey to produce a reaction. The other is a blue/green/white Spirit glass (also Spectrum). I'll try to get some pictures of those posted as well.

Below are the Before and After pictures of the piece. Unfortunately, the slumping mold is gently fluted, so it was difficult to capture details of the reaction and get a good picture of the shape of the piece. I decided to just shoot "from the top", even though that view flattens out the dish.

In a little more than a week, I'll be taking classes at the Glass Craft and Bead Expo in Las Vegas. With any luck, I'll have some fun things to report when I return!


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