Friday, January 31, 2014

Winging it

Well not really. The interesting thing about fusing glass is that sometimes the things you think are going to turn out great end up being sort of “Meh…” and others that are thrown together turn out better than expected.

Take this next piece for instance.

I was trying to decide if I wanted to put together another piece for the Lincoln Artists Guild show and settled on doing something with this melt.


I didn’t want to just add a border on to the melt like I did for this piece.


I decided to take random chunks of glass, scatter them around the melt and do a contour fuse.


Now for some reason I didn’t have high expectations for this but it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised.



The glass chunks ended up taking on a gemstone like appearance.



Now this has inspired me to do a mosaic piece just using the blown glass scrap.

No…I’m not having any fun at all.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some More Melts and a Boofoo

First the good stuff.

Here’s a couple of melts that still need to be flattened out.



Here’s a melt that I just flattened out.  I used the bottom of the melt rather than the top because I think the colors and patterns were more interesting.  I might use this for another art piece for the guild show.


And now for the boofoo (and it was a doozy).

Up until now I’ve been doing my melts into a Slumpys 8 inch mini melt ring using 8 inch terra cotta saucers.  I’ve been wanting to do a melt directly in a casting ring and just recently got the furniture to do so.  I made up a plate with two 3/4 inch holes about 2 inches apart in the center and then two more on either side near the edges of the saucer.  Essentially the pattern ran lengthwise in the center of the plate leaving plenty of space to rest the plates on the furniture.



Now the problem here was that since I couldn’t see the holes because they were covered by glass I failed to double check the hole orientation by lifting the saucer and looking underneath I ended up placing two of the holes directly on to of the furniture.

The results were ugly (and no I didn’t take pictures).   There was melted glass around the furniture and stuck to the bottom of the saucer.  I ended up throwing bother the posts and the saucer out.


Now as for the melt itself…it’s interesting. It’s kind of oblongish…and right now I have no clue what to do with it.


This is one of those “just stick this glass rack and think about it” pieces. Some Idea will gel sooner or later.   The reality given the limits of my method a lot of my melts will still need to be done (I think) using the mini melt.  Sometimes I put holes near the edge of the saucer and there won’t be enough saucer available to rest on the furniture.  Oh well…

An Art Show Piece

Here’s the latest piece that will be on display at the Lincoln Artists Guild show at Out of the Box.




My main regret about this pieces is that one of the “points" is a bit cut off.  That’s how it kind of came out of the pot melt ring and it’s also due to a near disaster I had with this melt. I had a different border on it that didn’t turn out and I had to cut it off and replace it with the mosaic (and that was quite a nerve wracking piece of surgery).  Hopefully everybody will be razzle dazzled by the colors.  Smoke and mirrors ya know…

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Now that was a fail Part 2: The Glass Strikes Back…

Uhhhhh there’s no redemption this time. Everything started off on a good note. I was able to re-fuse a piece that had broken off during ramp up. I had decided to incorporate a pot melt that I didn’t particularly care about just to try out this fancy shmancy mold. 
There was a little bit of overhang but I figured it would get drawn in as a glass slumped (and it did for the most part).
Here’s the results:
D’OH!, D’OH!
After doing some research I figured I’ve had just about everything bad happen that could happen (well not really…but I feel better thinking that way because I feel like I’ve gotten all the bad mojo out of my system in one fell swoop).
Here’s what went wrong.
  1. The gaping holes in the glass: I don’t think they were air bubbles because the glass didn’t fully slump into the mold so there was plenty of places for air to escape.  I don’t think the holes were caused by thermal shock because they really look too organic.  It looks like the glass was torn as it was slumping.  Why? The border I added consisted of scrap blown glass and although it was fused together at a fairly high temperature (20 minutes at 1500 degrees) some of the bonds between the scraps may have been weaker to some of the colored glass coatings that were used.  Perhaps if I fired those kinds of borders at a higher temperature (1530 – 1550) that might create a stronger bond. Either that I should limit the size of those borders for 1/2 to 1 inch wide. I’ll need to experiment some more.
  2. The stretch marks on the underside of the glass: I’m not sure about this.  The glass I was using was scrap system 96.  Here’s the slumping schedule:
250 250 15
250 900 30
300 1100 10
75 1250 30
FULL 960 60
75 800 0
125 700 0
200 100 0
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
  • The glass had been fired too many times.  Due to the thermal shock that occurred during ramp up I had to fire the piece two additional times.  So from beginning to end the pieces was fired a total of 7 times.  That might have caused the stability of the glass to degrade.
  • My ramp up is too fast relative to the thickness of the glass and the kind of mold I was slumping into. The overall thickness of the pieces was about 7.5 mm and I thought I had a fairly safe ramp up but maybe not. In this situation slower is better; perhaps a 150 for the initial ramp to the annealing point and then 50 to the slump target temperature.
  • The target temperature was too high.  Maybe I should do a longer hold at a lower temperature at, lets say 1150 to 1200 degrees.
  • My blank was too big.  There was about a quarter inch overhang around the mold and It’s possible that the extra glass caused some resistance as it was being dragged into the mold creating the stretch marks (and contributing to the tears). Next time I’ll try making the blank a little smaller than the mold and see if that helps.
I was able to get a cross section picture of the piece after I broke it up and it looks like the stretch marks are a series of vertical cracks up extending about one half two thirds the thickness of the glass.
    3. And finally…It didn’t slump into the mold completely.  I’m assuming it was partly due to problems #1 and 2.  Maybe for a mold like this it’ doesn’t need to slump to a “airtight” seal so to speak. When all was said and done it looks like it was probably slumped enough.
Well that’s enough wound licking for now.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This morning I just learned…

…my kiln doesn’t heat evenly.

The hard way.

The project was simple enough.  I had this pot melt that was a bit on the small side that I didn’t quite know what to do with.


And I had this funky mold I wanted to try out.


So I got out my 12 inch ring mold, put the melt in the center, surrounded it with scrap blown glass, did a full fuse, smoothed out the rough edges with the grinder and put it in the kiln again for a contour fuse to round the edges. Now I’ve had a piece thermal shock during cool down from an annealing that was too short and open the kiln briefly when it was a 350 degrees. This is the first time something has blown up on me during the heat up phase. Now when I head up the glass I’ve been using the “rule of thumb” rates that I saw (if I remember correctly) on the Glass Campus web site. The basic rules were this:

  • 6mm glass –> ramp up at 400 degrees per hour.
  • 9mm glass –> ramp up at 300 degrees per hour.
  • 12mm glass –> ramp up at 200 degrees per hour.

Something like that.  The blank that was in there was only 7mm thick but I used the ramp up for 9mm glass just to be safe.  Here’s what happened:





The only thing I can think of is that the the borders I’ve been using for my plates are made up of pieces of scrap blown glass.  Now even though the pieces are “fused” together their bonds may not be as strong as they are in the pot melt itself.  I’ve used the same ramping schedule on other plates but in those situations the melt made up the bulk of the plate mass and so was inherently stronger and more stable. There could have been a coating on a couple of pieces that introduced a weakness in the piece that mad it more sensitive to a kiln that didn’t heat evenly.  That’s my best guess.  I decided to go ahead and try to fuse the darn thing back together again.  This time I’m ramping up at a much more conservative 200 degrees per hour.



I did a little grinding to try to get the pieces to fit closer together and I added a few scraps along the break just to make sure the pieces thoroughly fuse together. I also put kiln posts up against the pieces to make sure doesn’t “move” during heating.  OK it’s probably a bit overkill but color me paranoid.  I’m going to need to grind the darn thing anyway because it will end up being a bit oblong from trying to mend the break.


I’ll keep you posted in the results..

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Now that was a fail (but redemption draweth nigh…)

The idea started out innocently enough.  I wanted to do another piece for the artists guild and decided to use the most eye poppingly colorful melt I had done and mount it in a 12 X 12 inch picture frame.  The plan was to add a border, tack fuse the piece on to a 3mm piece of clear glass and put the entire piece into the fame. 

I wanted to do a clear border and have pieces from another melt radiate out sort of like spokes on a wheel.  I picked out some clear glass from my hoard of blown glass and washed the pieces thoroughly.  Some of the chunks  were pretty big so I decided to break them up using a home made frit maker (I got the idea from a post on a glass forum).  now some of the glass was crushed into to small frit and I added some of that as well.  At the the time all the frit looked clean to be but as the cliché goes “appearance can be deceptive”.


Well the spokes didn’t melt (or look) like I thought they would and there were tiny dirty bubbles scattered throughout the border.  Pretty nasty looking!



After a brief expletive laden moment of fear, loathing, and panic I determined my best shot as salvaging the melt was to cut off the border using my glass cutter.  It was a little nerve racking but it wasn’t that hard to do. 


The pieces from the border ended up in file 13.  Here’s the piece after I ground the border.


I ended up going with the same collage border I had been recently using for some plates.


I think the results are a lot better!



So what happened with my frit maker.  Well when I read about it on a forum the idea sounded simple enough.  The frit maker consists of two pieces of galvanized pipe; one two inches in diameter with a cap on the end and a longer piece one inch in diameter also with a cap on the end. I put the glass in the bigger pipe and use the smaller pipe to crush the frit.  After re-reading the post, I see forgot to perform one step: I should have used a magnet to remove the bits of steel that got dislodged from the pipe during the crushing process.  That’s what made the frit “dirty”.  At least this explanation sounds good to me.


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Saturday, January 4, 2014

A few Christmas Presents…

I made a few decorative plates for family members.  They all took longer than I thought they would be I think the effort was worth it.