Having just purchased a new kiln, I am quickly learning how to successfully fuse glass. There have been a few projects that have turned out, but there are many that have not.
I have learned about COE and how important it is that the glass be compatible, as several of my initial projects have found their way to the “recycle” bin. This lesson has lead me to reorganize my studio from glass being arranged by color to glass now being arranged by COE.
What’s been cooking?
These fused flowers are fast becoming one of my favorite items to make. Each one is a challenge. For example, the iris took several firings because the initial flower top was so fragile that it broke just trying to put it together with the flower bottom. Also, it will take some practice to get the holes needed to attach the “stems” to be consistent. With the poppy, the whole turned out too large, so I had to be creative on how to attach the “stem”. I am working on coming up with a way to fuse some leaves to the stems.
These will not be for sale on line. I’m afraid that shipping them and getting them to their destination in one piece would be very risky. I will sell them only in person I think.
These where fun to make. I purchased some glass known as ‘confetti glass’ that I mixed with solid glass and some glass noodles. All where made with COE 96 glass and fired at a fast full fuse.
Outdoor candle lanterns
These lanterns are very challenging. The patterns (I use coloring book patterns, because of the simplicity and size) are small. I used glass nippers and grousing pliers to try to create the detail, but trying to get the tiny pieces to fit was a huge challenge. I decided that the best approach would be to use a mosaic technique meaning the shapes still have some spaces between them. After doing two lanterns, the next one will be done using stained glass and copper foil and will be abstract in design. The mosaic technique is time consuming and extremely messy.
The parrot lantern had one panel that cracked from stress, but the other 3 panels turned out. Not sure why only one panel cracked, but it will need to be redone. The tulip lantern had one panel that had some glass incompatibility cracks. Very tiny, but I know they are there, so that one will also need to be redone. I must have had some glass in my scrap that was not COE 96. i have been working to migrate over to COE 96, so there are still remnants of COE 90 and a tiny bit of stained glass mixed in. I usually know what is stained glass, but the COE 90 sneaks in from time to time.
I have been wanting to try these for some time. I purchased several molds for creating fused flowers and have a great book with the patterns, so I tried 3. I know, right now you only see 2. The 3rd one was an iris that turned out really cool. But, when I was putting the stem on, I lightly tapped the top with the screwdriver and it broke. I was able to fuse it back down to flat, but still need to reconstruct it and re-slump it into shape.
The stems are 1/4 inch copper tube with a #8 dry wall anchor in the top. The flower is screwed on to the copper tube and the dry wall anchor spreads to hold it to the tube. Some flowers require some small nylon washers for spacing and forming the hole, but this technique works really well for the fused flowers because the tube can work as either an integrated stand or stake for yard ornaments.
These are a collaboration with my husband. He used his mill to create the Shepard’s hooks and presented them to me to use to display the bird feeders made from wine bottles. But then I had a thought…..make some fused glass inserts and bring these Shepard’s hooks their own life.
All are single layer glass using COE 96. They were fused using a medium speed tack fuse (see the schedule below).
The butterflies and flowers used on the larger hooks are cast embellishments tack fused to clear. The smaller round inserts are hand designed.
The inserts are attached by drilling holes and using tinned wire to attach to the hook. The wire is soldered to keep it from pulling apart.
There was one other, but it cracked when I drilled the holes in it, so it’s a ‘keeper’ for me.
My first attempt at glass fusing:
The first time I fused glass I thought I had read all the information I could find. Then I got excited and started cutting and assembling glass for my very first attempt. I decided to try full fusing at a medium speed. I used the firing schedule
I loaded the kiln with 2 flowers and 4 plant stakes
I paid attention to double layers of glass, but I got carried away with glass selection and didn’t stick 100% to COE 90. Some of the small pieces of glass came from other stained glass projects where I used non-fusible glass (good for stained glass only). The results where mixed..
These two flowers ended up in the scrap pile. I used a large glass nugget for the center of the orange flower. It cracked and spread larger than the original center. It turns out that the glass nugget and the surrounding glass where not compatible.
Lesson learned: When adding a wire hanger, make sure it does not get buried between two layers of glass.
These plant stakes turned out OK, but they also contained non-fusible glass that was subject to devitrification, meaning the small pieces were not shiny. Also, firing a full fuse meant that the glass nuggets I used expanded more than I had planned and integrated into a single layer. My objective was to have some definition in the layers.
My second (failed) attempt
It’s getting close to Christmas, so why not start making some ornaments?
After the first attempt that took over 12 hours to “bake”, I decided this time I would use a faster fuse setting
Again, these were done at a full fuse. There are a few that didn’t make the picture, because they slumped over the edge of the shelf. On some of these, I used fiber rope to create a space between the two layers of glass so that I could thread my hanging jute. Some of these turned out alright, but not as I had intended. The lessons learned here are: make sure not the crowd the kiln shelf; two layers of dark red turns black (the stocking was a deep cherry red); if you want definition, don’t full fuse…tack fuse!; make sure that if you use glass rods, tack them down well…they roll around and may not end up where you first put them (turquoise and yellow).
Getting the hang of it
Finally, I think I may have started to figure it out. For the following, I used a tack fuse schedule, but changed the hold time and temperature slightly.
In segment 4, I raised the temperature to 1360 and held for 15 minutes. This decision was made based on the results of some guitar ornaments I also made (further discussed below). These ornaments are much closer to what I was looking for.
These ornaments are single layer with embellishments added as the second layer. These are lighter for hanging on a tree and the light comes through them so you can appreciate the nature of the glass itself. Still, there are lessons learned…always make adjustments for mild shrinkage on small pieces. I would have liked the wire hanger ends to have been better hidden.
Another learning opportunity
To make a long story short, I have a 14 year old grandson who plays the drums. So why the guitars? He plays with some professional guys who have been in the music business for a very long time and have taken him under their wing. I was thinking about how I could thank them for being so supportive of my grandson and thought about making fused glass guitars for Christmas ornaments. So, here they are:
The first one I made as a prototype (the green stripped one) was a double layer, but I didn’t like how it turned out. The reasoning was to try to attach the neck of the guitar to the body of the guitar, which worked well, but the fuse looked messy to me. So I opted for single layer on the remaining guitars and, with the exception of one, used glass noodles to fuse the guitar neck to the body. This worked well until you handled them. The join is too weak and the neck breaks away from the body. But, ah ha, I now have a new design that should work. When I’ve had the chance to try it out, I’ll post them here.
UPDATE: Following Christmas, I made another dozen of these guitars. I will post the pictures soon. What I did differently this time was to use 1/8 inch fiber paper and lay the guitar neck on the paper so that the base of the neck rested on top of the body of the guitar. This created a much stronger bond than using the noodles. Only one issue to resolve. The fiber paper needs to be cut into strips that fit as close to the body of the guitar as possible. If it is not, the neck of the guitar will have a bump where there is a gap between the end of the fiber paper and the guitar body.
A project of multiple fuses
This project is an adaptation of the following instruction set:
So I wouldn’t call this a vase. I don’t know what to call it, really. But I kind of like it. My husband says it’s a piece of art. I say, I don’t do art. I make things.
What I was looking to create was a vase that would hold water. As you can see, it wouldn’t hold much. Lessons learned: 1) mass displacement – the glass will only collapse to a point, because of it’s mass. 2) When the glass meets the shelf, you have no control which way the edges will go. My vision was that the corners would either not reach the kiln shelf or if they did, they would fold away from the center. In this case, they folded inward. Measure the glass and make sure there is room for the glass to drape freely if you don’t want it to touch the kiln shelf. 3) forget about symmetry, also due to mass displacement. The sides that folded did not fold equally. If I want something to be symmetrical, I’ll have to use a mold. This was just draped over a narrow cylinder.
UPDATE: Thinking I could correct this a little, I put a small block of a broken kiln shelf under the slumping mold and re-fired this vase. The hope was that it would straighten out. Unfortunately, as you can see, it only collapsed in on itself more. It collapsed to the point that I had to cut the mold to break it out. Guess I’ll need to try this one again.
I made two clocks as gifts as well. They are rather simple clocks, but they were fun to make. Again, there were some lessons learned;
This one was for my son. The family is in to drag racing, so I created the drag racing “Christmas” tree – yes, it is actually called the Christmas tree. The pre-stage and stage lights were originally yellow glass blobs, but 7 turned a little red and one turned black. They at least still have a bit of definition. My husband (who was a machinist in his previous life) routed out a rod to use for a stand. This was a fun project.
As mentioned before, my grandson is a drummer. This was my attempt to create a picture of drums. This one I would kind of like to do over again, but I think he liked it. Next time, I’ll do this type of work in stained glass instead of fused glass. My artistic (drawing) skills need to be better perfected, I think.