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.