Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bending stringers and cutting dichroic...

Tonight, we started the class period by creating a dichroic element for addition into our finished plate. I didn't snap a before picture, but it really won't make much difference as with the low firing temperature (1425 degrees F for 5 minutes) I was really just aiming for a tack fuse; something to hold the pieces in place. But, the kiln is still at around 350 degrees F, and it shouldn't really be opened to prevent the glass inside from stressing and potentially cracking. However, since the pieces that were fired are thin and small, and will be fired again into the final project; I opened the lid quickly to get a quick snapshot (which was very dark and I had to overexpose using a little digital photo editing so that you can see any detail at all).
After my student programmed the kiln (with a little guidance), we began working with stringers and candles to create more decorative elements for next week when we cut the pieces apart and put them back together.
Here are some retro-y looking square swirls that I created by holding the stringer over a candle flame and manipulating with tweezers. You simply hold the 1mm stringer over the flame (at the very tip of the flame) until it starts to bend with a little pressure. If it starts to move in a direction you weren't expecting, simply pull back out of the flame to cool before heading back in to reshape.

Playing in the flames made me want to get back in the hot shop. It's not exactly the same as working with a glory hole, but the concepts are similar...just a bit.

To finish up the session, we broke out the Glassline paints and paintbrushes to decorate some Thinfire. (This, too, will be an element for our finished plate.) At this point, my 2 year old niece decided that she wanted part of the action, as well. While sitting watching mommy paint with the green paints, she chimed in, "Me paint;" and even though I kept telling her we'd paint the next time she came over, she pressed on. "Me hold paper." Mmm, okay..."Me paint." Oh,, she did:) A little pink, some red, a bit of orange, and a lot of water. She's on her way to becoming the world's youngest glass artist, perhaps?
Alongside, mommy and my niece's pieces is a sample that I created to test my theory of Thinfire being paint-able and fire-able. It worked, so I added some powdered polka dots to up it's interest level.
I also assigned some homework. In order to incorporate all of the techniques we've been experimenting with into one plate and make it look spectacular, we are going to cut up our sample tiles; maybe not all of them, but definitely some of them. I warned my students from the get go. "Do not get attached to the individual tiles." It is hard. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week I was finally able to cut up a particular painted piece that I made over a year ago for inclusion in another piece. It was a beautiful pattern, but it was also not a stand alone piece. I'll unveil pictures soon;)
I not get attached. This is actually a good mantra for glass art in general, as you never "really" know what's going to happen in the kiln. Sure, MOST of the time everything turns out as you expected (once you know what to expect). However, there's always the chance that something will shift, an element goes out, a program went wrong, a bubble formed...It's a great practice in letting go. So, to further this practice, we'll be looking at our sample tiles through "viewfinders" (squares cut out of a white cardstock). We'll move the windows over our tiles to see what particular areas will look like when we cut them. Hopefully, this will aid in the letting go of the tile process, to break the pieces down into smaller parts in order to create a new composition. I'm really excited for next week, when we'll start to cut the tiles apart and then piece them back together.
One last little "food for thought." Next week, we will potentially be incorporating dichro slide into our compositions. It's a very subtle look and adds a nice, shimmery appearance. Above, I fired small sample stripes between two layers of stained glass (from the same sheet). It seemingly does not need to be capped, but I haven't poked at it with anything aside from my fingernail.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Playing with Powders, Frits, Stringers, and bits...

In this week's "Sampler Platter Class," we played with powdered glass, frits, stringers and scrap glass bits. In preparation for this class, I went to Hobby Lobby and spent an hour and a half scavenging for useful templates to use with our sifted powders. I found some little adhesive dots sheets in the scrapbook section, some plastic needlepoint canvases, a couple of orange rubber painting combs, and a multitude of other things that I didn't go looking for, but couldn't pass up. (NOTE: I've placed links on the items that I bought because I was too lazy to add pictures of them, and I didn't describe them very well.)

[SAFETY NOTE: When using glass powders, make sure to wear a dust mask and work in an area free of drafts to avoid breathing glass!]

Here are some before and after pictures of the pieces that my students and I worked on. You can see that when you're applying powders, you really have to apply them in a thick layer, otherwise they just disappear after they're fired in the kiln. Opal powders (opaque) will show up better than transparent powders will. I've posted some closeups of the pieces so you can examine them both before and after to see the change in colors and texture. I fired them at 1440 degrees F and held for only 5 minutes.

On the opal blue tiles, I believe it was pumpkin orange powder (opal) that was sifted on the pieces. You can see how much it disappears after it's been fired, even though it looks like it's on fairly thick and is perfectly visible unfired.

On the clear tiles, the same pumpkin orange opal powder was sifted on and you can see that it was put on much thicker than on the opal blue tiles. It also still looks transparent after firing although it's an opal powder.

On the pink opal tiles, I used (yes, again) the pumpkin opal powder. I used the No Days Mosaic Adhesive and a paper punch flower tool to create the adhesive shapes that I wanted. After I arranged them in the spots where I wanted them, I held the glass tile over a candle flame until the adhesive started to melt. Then, I sifted the powder on heavily, let the glass cool down and knocked off the excess powder. On the other tile, I drew a squiggle with fuser's glue and sifted powder on top of it. Then, I knocked off the excess.

My class is playing with different techniques and materials used in glass fusing, but the ultimate idea is that when we are done, they will have a plate that incorporates all the different sample tiles we are making.

Whether or not the sample tiles are judged "successful" as a whole won't matter so much in the end piece as the tiles will potentially be cut up into smaller pieces and reassembled.

Using powders, frits, stringers, etc. to alter a piece of glass and create texture and pattern is a favorite technique of mine. I feel it really enhances the final piece as the piece is truly original and less generic.

With last week's painted pieces, I've already created some great quilted brooches and quilted coasters. With the intention of creating even more quilted plates, I've filled the empty space in my kiln with larger pieces of opal glass that I've dusted with powdered designs. I'll end up cutting these up to incorporate into quilted plates.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Powdered Leaves

Here's my first sample of a new-to-me technique that I read about on I did a quickie just to see how it would turn out and what I needed to tweak.
The dried and flattened leaves worked the best, while the somewhat flattened and still limp leaves ended up breaking up a bit. I think next time I will try this with properly pressed leaves and flowers, but I'm glad I have a sample to show my class for tonight's class dealing with powders, frits, and stringers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Newest Glass Fabric

Before... and After...
Glassline Paints and glass powders helped me to compose the newest pieces for inclusion in my next project. 4"x4" coasters and 6"x6" plates.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Powders and Painted Paper

I just pulled my lastest samples out of "Little Miss," my Paragon Caldera kiln.
I have some materials I've been wanting to play with since the Glass Craft and Bead Expo in Las Vegas last month. The first of which is the Streuter's No Days Mosaic Adhesive, which can be fired in the kiln and come off clean! I used a scrapbooking paper stamping tool to cut out the design from the No Days Adhesive and placed it on my glass. I pressed in it with my fingernails first, to see if it would hold powder without heating. Meh...not really; so I held the glass piece over a candle flame to start to liquify the adhesive. That was the trick! I sifted an orange powder over the adhesive and let it sit for a moment to allow the adhesive to absorb the powder fully and cool down, then I poured the rest of the powder off into a container to be used again.
Next up...Glassline Paints on thinfire...I had a stroke of genius (well, that may be a bit much) while looking over the Glassline Paper product brochure. When I read "fusible paper," I thought of thinfire. Now, why I had never thought of it before I just cannot say. But, I decided to play around with it.

The very first sample I made was simply a piece of thinfire between two sheets of clear. I didn't post a picture of it here; it just looks like white paper in glass. Above is my second sample piece, on which I quickly scribbled out some random lines with the remains of the paints from my class (the first session of the "Sampler Platter Class"). Then turned it over and wrote my name, for the heck of it:
And, instead of just firing it between two pieces of clear, I decided to test out my new dot templates for powdering glass. So, I sifted some orange dots on the top layer of clear.
I'm excited about the new possibilities this could open up in later designs, but am not sure how I will be using it just yet.
The Glassline paints on the paper look like puffy paints used straight from the bottle. The paint that I brushed on has the appearance of gouache, and I may have thinned it with a bit of water...but alas, I don't recall.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sampler Platter Class

The first week of my fused glass sampler platter class pieces are out of the kiln!
We worked with Glassline paints as a slow introduction into glass. I think they turned out really well.
This coming week, we will be working with powders, frits and stringers.
I can't wait until all the sample tiles are created and for the moment that the plates all come together!
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