Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wow…May 27th…has it really been that long.

It’s been a  while since I posted.  The problem with blogging is that there are days when I can think of better things to do; the act of writing often feels like drudgery.  But enough wining for now.

I haven't been firing up the kiln quite as often mainly because I’ve been doing more complex pieces.  Take this one for instance:


This took a couple of weeks for this one to come together.  I like the concept and design (but don’t look to closely at the soldering job ;-/)





It was a good learning experience.   The biggest problem I ran into was the gaps between the pieces were to big. I had cut the paper templates using a patter shear that left a 1/32nd inch gap.  Well that was too big. The second mistake I made was doing the initial soldering too fast.  The gaps didn’t fill properly so when I flipped the piece over to do the back there nice deep channels for the flux to fill and I ended up with solder that constantly bubbled and erupted. Not fun.  I was being a bit paranoid because I didn’t want to overheat the glass and cause it to crack. But in spite of the drama I’m relatively pleased with how it turned out. 

I took what I learned and applied it to this next piece I made for my sister. 


Here’s the finished piece.  The soldering job is much cleaner.


Now I had a whole ton of white glass scrap from cutting the pieces for the circle and I had no clue what to do with it. I finally got the idea to do this:


I first fused a 10 inch blank consisting of transparent and white glass scrap, transparent  frit with pieces of medium colored frit scattered throughout. I then took some of the thinner pieces of scrap and arranged them in the pattern you see above.  Once I had the overall pattern I wanted I took all the pieces off and grouped them together on a piece of paper and sprinkled powered frit over the pieces to create the rainbow hue.  Using a pair of tweezers I picked up each piece and put it back on the blank.  I then put the whole thing the kiln and did a tack fuse.  Next I slumped the whole piece in a shallow bowl mold.


Now lately I’ve two projects in the works. I’ve been fusing tiles like crazy to make more wall hangings like the one above.



An this is another beast I have in process.  I had gotten some French curves and put them to use here.


This time I didn’t use a pattern shear to cut out the templates and after a fair amount of grinding the pieces fit together much tighter.  I’ll be using powered frit to create the same kind of gradient effect like I did on the circle piece.  I’ll be posting my progress. Well I’m done for now.

Night all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tweaking my space (And other pipe dreams)

I’m always fiddling with my work space…all 32 square feet.  There’s more potential space in my basement but that’s currently occupied by a Model Railroad that I am loathe to tear out simply because I’ve put a ton of work into it (with a ton more to go) and at some point I’d like to return to that vice (well it’s a good one really).  Well in the meantime I’m always try to find new ways to create more storage.  I recently had a microwave on the floor in the corner and decided to move it out into the garage. I had originally thought that I would use it for making prototypes using my microwave kiln.  Well it went untouched for about 6 months and I figured I could make better use of the space and put a couple of shelves in there.   For those of you who are morbidly curious here is a visual tour of my space.

Here’s the entry to my lair.  I got some shelves for storing molds off to the right.


The kiln area.  The entire area is sheathed in 1/2 in inch durock with a double layer behind the kiln where it’s closest to the wall. The duct work for the kiln is for venting the space: one draws in cool air and circulates down around the bottom of the space to help cool the control box and the vent up top pulls the warm air out and vents it outside. the configuration works pretty well.  On the balance this is not the ideal situation; I wish I had more space on the back side of the Kiln but the double layer of durock does keep things nice and cool right on the other side of the wall.





The space underneath my workbench.



The topside of my workbench



The shelves above my work bench.  The duck work in the picture is for a kitchen floor vent.



Now do I have a dream glass shop?  Sure! Our garage is due for replacement and I’ve imagined taking it’s current 20 foot length and adding another 10 – 12 feet for a glass shop.  I addition, since we’ve never used the garage as an actual garage, I’ve proposed to my better half that once we rebuild the garage I could put a faux wall in about 10 feet from the actual garage door.  We’d use the from space for storage (lawn mower, gardening stuff, bikes, etc.) and use the remaining space as a hobby room for me and my wife: she could do her painting on one side and I could do my glass on the other.  We’ll see how things shake out.

One thing I needed to change was the chair I was using.  It’s a Swedish Balans chair and while it’s really comfortable I can think of at least half a dozen occasions where I’ve nearly killed myself (or something I was carrying) while trying to step over the chair or push it out of the way. I decided I needed something with wheels.


Here’s what I found at Goodwill.


OK.  I’ll admit it is a bit overkill for the space but I fell in love when I set my delicate posterior down in it. It’s truly an old leather captain’s char (captain as in Kirk…not Crunch) .


Friday, May 23, 2014

Messing around with Iridescent glass

I decided to make some decorative plates using iridescent glass.  I  built them directly in the casting ring on a broken piece of kiln shelf.  The shelf is just big enough to hold an 8 inch ring so it was easy for me to transport the entire rig to the kiln when I was done assembling the piece.  I don’t have a clamshell kiln so it’s a real pain (literally) to build something like this directly in the kiln.


I started off with a foundation of 3 mm transparent bull's-eye glass and then topped it off with a mixture of clear and transparent orange frit.  For this first piece I actually cut an 8 inch circle of glass and placed it on the bottom of the ring.  For subsequent pieces I used scrap glass for the bottom layer and used clear frit to make up the difference.  The first layer comes to about 9oz of glass. I then used about 3oz of colored frit and the remaining 6oz was the transparent red and iridescent glass. I carefully weighted all the components so I ended up with a little over 18 ounces of glass which will create a blank about 6mm thick.  So so first layer is the transparent glass, next the colored frit and finally the transparent red glass followed by the iridescent.


Here’s the shelf in place in the kiln.


All done!


I made another one using transparent blue and here’s one I did today using green.



Here’s the blue and red one with the edges ground and ready for a fire polish.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New melts and a new piece for the spring show

I did a some more melts the past few days before it gets warmer.  I vent my kiln from the outside and so I’m reluctant to do pot melts during the summer since the temps will be much hotter.  It’s a snap to keep the control box as cool as a cucumber during the fall and winter.  Right now the melts are still thick blanks that I’ll need to thin out.  I’m pleased with how they turned out.





When I first got into glass fusing I had envisioned creating small glass tiles (2 – 3 inches in the side) and them connecting them together using the copper foil method. There was so much to learn and explore I put that ide off to the side for a bit.  But now I’ve re-visited the idea and put together this piece for the Lincoln Artists Guild spring show.



Well there it is.  Time to break a leg again…

Monday, April 7, 2014

Misc. Glass Shenanigans

First Shenanigan

So what do you do when you have several empty olive jars? 


You try fusing them together just for the hell of it.


Well not totally…I had visions of making a blank out of them and then slump it it into a mold for some kind of snack bowl.  I remember seeing a mold over at the Delphi Glass that looked like it would be the right size (about 6.5 X 9). The results of the fuse leave a bit to be desired.


It sort of looks cool but it suffered some major thermal shock on the cool down because of the uneven thickness of glass and a cooling schedule that was too aggressive.


I needed to use a more conservative cool down schedule plus I probably should have fused it longer at 1500 degrees to flatten it out a bit more.  I held for 15 minutes when I should have done 30.   It’s back in the kiln again to see if I can fix it.

Second Shenanigan


I talked about this melt in a blog post a couple of months ago.  I won’t rehash the details here but I’ve been trying to think of ways getting it back to the shape it was originally intended to be: round.  I decided to try a method I had been using on my other pot melts to expand the size of the melt and give it a little border.   When I do a pot melt I create a blank in a Slumpy’s 8 inch mini melt and then flatten it out by taking it up to 1500 for 45 minutes.  I end up with a melt that’s about 10.5 inches in diameter. I found I can expand it out to about 12 inches by cutting out a clear 11.5 inch circle of glass, putting the flattened melt on top and then fusing them together.  I end up with a melt about 12 inches  in diameter which fits perfectly in the 12 inch melt stand.


Anyway I decided to try this technique to get the oblong melt back into shape.


I traced around my piece with a marker and then cut it out.


I had to use some etch to get rid of some kiln wash that had stubbornly baked on the back of the glass.  Either it’s my wash that’s causing that problem or else it may be one of the downsides to melting directly into a form.


I then put the two pieces in a 12 inch ring casting mold; the clear glass on the bottom and the melt on top.  My thinking was that the mold would confine and glass and force it to fill out the circle.  It worked pretty darn good.  I still had do do some grinding but for the most part I ended up with something that was reasonably round.


Third Shenanigan

A touch of tragedy here. I had this decorative plate that I had made that I really didn’t care about.  It was kind of lopsided and just didn’t come out like I expected.


I had it in storage and there was another plate on top of it. They were separated by a couple of pieces of paper towel.  So it really didn’t break my heart when I found it had broken into two pieces when I checked on it.  I tried to salvage it by fusing it together again.  It came out “OK” (still wasn’t crazy about it). I put the blank back on the rack to slump it some other day.  The next day my wife was doing the laundry when she heard a CRACK followed by a CRASH.  The piece had split and half of it fell of the shelf and on to the floor.  I decided to cut it up and use some pieces in pendants but then I got the Idea that maybe I could resurrect some of it as a mosaic type thingy. So I took my cut up pieces, some additional clear glass and a large blob I got from a batch of blown glass scrap off of EBay. I figured the blob would make an interesting center to the piece. 


I’m not sure which I the more; this new incarnation or the original piece. You decide for yourself.


Unfortunately (or maybe hallelujah) this piece is no longer among the living.  you see on thing I didn’t take into account was that the massive piece of glass in the middle made the blank about  1.5 millimeters thicker than the edges and so my cooling schedule wasn’t conservative enough and this beastie was in two pieces again after 24 hours.  I tried fusing it back together again with a more conservative cool down schedule but it still wasn’t enough.  It was in two pieces again when I opened the kiln.  It’s now resting comfortably in file 13.

End of Shenanigans