Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to Make Layered Dichroic Jewelry - Part 1

Tonight, I'll be giving a quick demonstration of some of the upcoming classes I'll be teaching at Architectural Glass Arts (1 block South of 48th and Prescott) here in Lincoln, Nebraska. In particular, there's been a lot of interest in the Dichroic Tile for Jewelry class. It's a great way to make a bunch of gifts all in one go, because you start by making a 4" x 4" layered dichroic tile and end up with 10-20 pieces for jewelry (depending upon how large or small the pieces are that you decide to cut the tile into).
So, without further ado, here's part one (in the kiln prepping for part 2 as we speak)!

First, you'll need to gather your supplies:
You'll need your cutting tools (glass cutter, running pliers, mosaic nippers), a pair of tweezers come in handy for moving small pieces around, 5" x 5" piece of ThinFire paper (if you're not building directly on the kiln shelf like I did) on a sturdy piece of cardboard, your favorite brand of fusing glue (I'm using No Days Liquid Fusing Adhesive), cleaning supplies (I use Sparkle brand glass cleaner and microfiber cloths), and of course, glass.
You'll need a variety of dichroic bits on black and clear. You can actually purchase sample kits or assortment bags from several dichroic suppliers, and I've found this to be the best way to build up a variety of different dichroics at a good price.
Lastly, you'll need either: 4" x 4" piece of thin black (or whatever color you want to be the base layer) AND 4" x 4" piece of thin clear, OR a 4" x 4" piece of clear. If you're using thins, just follow the steps below verbatim. Otherwise, you'll need to start by laying out your ThinFire on cardboard and drawing a 4" x 4" square on the paper with a pen or pencil. This square is where you'll start layering your pieces.

Now, it's time to assemble the layers:

Begin by placing your thin black on the kiln shelf. (Alternately, you may use ThinFire paper setting atop of a sturdy piece of cardboard. After the glue has dried, it is easy to scoot the paper off of the cardboard and into the kiln. DO NOT FIRE THE CARDBOARD!!!

[Note: If using standard thickness (1/8") glass, then you should not have a base layer. Instead, mark your kiln shelf with a 4" x 4" square (lightly use a pencil to mark the primed shelf), or draw a 4" x 4" square on a piece of ThinFire paper on sturdy cardboard. You will not use a base layer of glass. Your base layer will be your dichroic on black pieces.]
Now it's time to play with dichro!!! First, you'll be laying down bits of opaque dichroic glass. (Dichroic glass comes on black thin glass or on clear thin glass.) Cut the dichroic pieces into random shapes, squares, triangles, strips...whatever you feel! Trust me, as long as you load the dichro up, you'll be pleased with how this turns out.
I included a wavy stick of dichro and some flameworked twisty stringers. The only thing I would not recommend is to use plain old glass. I've tried it once and it overpowered the dichro. It's a mistake I will not try again!
You can see bits of my base glass that are naked. They will likely show up in the final piece, depending upon how well I cover those bits with clear dichroic in the next step.

If you haven't used a base layer of glass, then you need to use more dichroic than I did. You should not be able to see the kiln shelf or ThinFire.
At this point, I also dropped a bit of glue in the seams, especially along the edges of the glass. Even though the glass is placed fairly randomly, it takes some time to do. I don't want my nicely stacked piece to shift around before I get it in the kiln!

Now, you start layering clear dichroic on top of your opaque dichroic. A word of warning! The metal oxides that make that beautiful dichroic coating do not stick to each other when fired. What does this mean? It means that when placing the transparent dichroic glass on top of your opaque dichroic, you need to carefully examine each piece to make sure the dichroic coating is up and not down. I do this by holding my piece of glass to a light and trying to catch the reflection of the light on the dichro coating. If your dichro coating is face up, the light it reflects will run all the way to the edge of the glass. If your dichro coating is down, you will see a slight "shadow," kind of like when you stand really close to the bathroom mirror and look at the edge. (Anyone besides me ever done this?)
Make sure you have plenty of transparent dichroic on top of your base layer, but it's okay with this layer to go a little lighter than you did with the opaque layer. AND, some transparent dichroics will completely obscure the layer underneath them. So, don't get too crazy! (Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?)

As I laid each piece of transparent dichro down, I put a tiny bit of adhesive on the bottom side. Like I said earlier, I use No Days Liquid Fusing Adhesive. It's got a pleasant orange aroma that helps to cover up the garage smell in my studio. It's also really tacky, so when it dries, my pieces are more stable than if I were to use different fusing glues. (Did I tell you how long it takes to put this piece together? Just long enough to make it really frustrating when pieces move before they are in the kiln!)
Tada!!! Made it to the kiln, and now all that's left is to cap it! Dichro is nice and sparkly, but when you put the clear layer of glass on top, it adds a really nice dimensionality to the metal coating. This is where I gently add the 4" x 4" piece of thin, clear glass on top before firing up the kiln. [NOTE: If using standard thickness glass, you didn't have a base layer. However, you definitely want a clear cap. So, this is where you would add a 4" x 4" piece of clear to your lovely stack.

Load the kiln and fire!
The firing schedule will vary from kiln to kiln. But, for my small Paragon Caldera kiln, this is the schedule I used:

500 degrees per hour to 600 degrees and hold for 15 minutes

(I didn't let my glue thoroughly set and dry. The No Days adhesive starts to set within 3 minutes, but can take much longer to dry - even overnight. This step helps to dry and burn off moisture, so make sure the kiln is vented. I simply place 2 stacked squares of 1/8" thick fiber paper in two corners of my kiln and leave it vented the whole time.)

500 - 1000 - 5

The binders in the ThinFire and the glue will burn off completely during this stage. The kiln still needs to be vented...
full - 1250 - 10
This stage heats up to slump temperatures and let the layers fall together, squeezing out air bubbles and beginning to tack.
full- 1480 - 15

All the layers should now fuse together fully.
full - 900 - 20
Annealing temperature. My bitty kiln holds its heat well, and with small pieces like this one, it doesn't need any further annealing.
The end.
Make sure you DO NOT open the kiln even to peek once the kiln is below 1000 degrees! You're just asking for trouble if you do. Don't want to put all that work into making this nice piece and then stress out your glass and make it shatter!!!
No, No, No!
Part Two will cover cutting the tile into smaller pieces, rounding off the sharp edges and attaching a bail.


Anonymous said...

What type of Caldera kiln do you use?

CalyxAnn said...

As far as I know, Paragon makes just the one Caldera ( Mine doesn't have any of the extra collars, or a viewing window (I hate viewing windows on these small kilns - they leak heat like mad, so it takes longer to heat up to temperature. At least, that's my experience with them.)


Related Posts with Thumbnails