I'm still in fish-making mode and here are the newest additions to my school.
These first 4 photos are before firing. I've mentioned "striker" glass a lot. Striker glass changes color a LOT during firing so you have to pay close attention to what you are working with before hand. I mark all of my glass with the stock numbers, even the small pieces. But once it goes in the tiny scrap bin it could be anything.
Pay close attention to the blue and turquoise fish to see what color it turns in the end.
The bases of both of these fish are striker glass.
The green one is not striker but the orange one is. You might notice that his tail is kind of ragged. It broke on the way to the kiln. I decided to cobble it back together as best I could and let the melting glass fuse back together. Lots of fish had damage to their tail fins.
The dark green fish is the same one as in the photo above. The bright green one has some turquoise bits that are "reactive". It will react with some other glasses and leave a dark outline. It's a very cool effect that people use as a design element. My favorite part about that fish though is the eye. It's just a little sliver of glass that was in my tiny scrap tray.
Here they are all finished. The light blue one turned bright pink and the orange ones turned a very deep red. Check out the little green one and you can see the reactive effect around the turquoise dots and his very cool eye. The big red one at the top has a little nip out of his tail fin and I'm OK with that. I used some dichroic glass on him and I need to use that a lot more on some new fish.
Here's the whole school so far. I probably need this many more to have enough for my backsplash. That's no problem because I love making them.
I'm not working on mosaic for the dye sink yet in that nothing has been stuck to the wall yet. But I am working on lots of glass fishes so that I'll have a full fish tank when I do start. Making these is kind of addictive. I use scrap glass so, like scrap quilting, there's not much to lose and that frees you up to just have a lot of fun. I use these to fill in space when I have some things I'm ready to fire in the kiln. Here's how I made 3 recent ones.
I start with a rough cut fish body and tail and I glue them together. You can see that I have little wedges of glass under some of the tails to hold them up while the glue dries. I use standard Elmer's glue gel. It burns off clean in the kiln.
No matter what glass project I'm doing I save ever little sliver of glass. To make my fishes I just start piling up the bits and strips of glass trying to pay attention to color. But with some glass you don't really know the color until it's fired...especially if it's an unmarked sliver. Most of these bits are glued in place so I can easily move them to the kiln.
Side view. You can see there's nothing really logical going on here.
Here's the second one.
And the 3rd one with a creepy lime green eye.
Here the are after firing. I was a little disappointed with their stumpy tails. That had not happened to me before. But when I saw how everything else in the kiln fired I realized that I had used the wrong program! I fired it to too high a temperature so they became much more rounded. I'm actually fine with the teal and purple ones. I might trim the tail joint on the olive one and fire him again.
Or I just might make more fish and use him for something else. He wouldn't be my first reject fish! Next time I'll show you how they look when I fire them properly.
So last week I shared some of my recent glass disasters. Today I have updates on a couple of the projects.
Remember this iridized bubble plate? I messed it up by fusing it on shelf paper instead of just straight in a prepared kiln shelf.
I decided to see if I could fix it by just fusing it again directly on the kiln shelf. You can see here that most everything else is on shelf paper.
It worked! Now I can slump this piece and finish it up. It's going to be a beautiful dish.
I haven't flattened out the orange plate yet to fix it. If you look in the kiln photo you see a small piece with green bubble shapes. That's a dish that I put into this firing just to see if I'll have any problems flattening the orange dish. That also worked well so I can tackle the orange dish next.
The third disaster was this quilt block suncatcher where the hanger loop got filled with glass. The solution is to grind the glass out of the hole and refire it to get a smooth edge.
Grinding glass creates a lot of heat and also a lot of glass dust and possible flying chips of glass. So there are 2 things that must be done. The first is water. The grinding surface needs to stay wet to keep it cool. The water also helps keep the dust down. With smaller pieces I like to put some water in a bin so that I can grind with the glass submerged in water.
I'm also really obsessive about eye and lung protection. I'm outfitted like this every time I'm grinding, sawing or working with glass powders.
I just needed the Dremel, a diamond bit and some patience.
This is what it looked like when I was done and it was ready to be fired again. But take a close look at the ground area. I should have noticed that it was still too thick.
Foiled again! You see, glass wants to be about 1/4" thick and that extra thickness wanted to go somewhere else and that was right back into the loop.
No worries. I know just how to fix that.
Today we are checking in on what's going on in the glass studio and mostly we're talking about disasters.
When I first started doing glass I agonized over getting pieces perfect but I have since learned that with glass, like quilting, you can almost always fix something or, worst case, use it for scrap. Some of the scrap projects, again like with quilting, are some of the most fun and most interesting.
I don't usually share my "disasters" but I've had quite a few lately so thought I'd show them and tell you what I'll do with them.
We'll start with the pretty set of sushi plates that I promised for a friend LAST YEAR! I have to get a kiln full of glass to work on these and I can only slump 2 at a time so that's one reason they are taking so long. But I was down to the last orange one this weekend and was looking forward to emailing her this week to tell her they were ready.
Oh my, what the heck is this? The back of the plate has picked up some kiln wash or something and it's permanently fused to the dish. There's a small spot on the front too. So, what to do?
I'm going to first run it through a full fuse to flatten it out. Then I will use some wet sanding pads (specifically for glass) to sand the back of the plate and the one spot on the front. Then I'll full fuse it again to bring the sheen back and then slump it. It's got 3 more trips through the kiln before it's potentially done. In all honesty I'm probably also going to make another one just in case the repair doesn't work. Regardless, it's good for me to learn how to fix these problems.
Next up is this bubble plate. It has iridized glass on the bottom and you can see that it's taken on a distracting texture.
Here's a better look from the back. That's called pitting. I have now learned why this happened and consider it a miracle that it hasn't happened to me before because I've been fusing the irid glass wrong all along! I'm going to send this through the kiln once with the irid side up to see if it fixes itself. If that doesn't work I may grind the irid off to leave myself with a nice amber bubble plate.
This is one of my quilt blocks suncatchers. I've been working on this thing FOREVER! After the first fuse I felt that the hooks for the hanger were not fused in well enough so I sent it through again to add a bit of clear so they would be seated better.
This one worked perfectly.
This one not so much! I will need to grind the clear away from the hole of the hanging loop and then fuse it again, hopefully for the last time. I'll use a Dremel with diamond bits for this and I'll keep the surface wet while I'm grinding.
I want the kiln full every time I fire so I got a school of fish bodies ready (tails glued to bodies) and will get them "decorated" so that I can fill in the spaces between my other project with these. All of these fish will be swimming on my dye sink backsplash.
Also, people have been bringing me bottles so I spent a lot of time washing and removing labels from bottles this past weekend. I do these inbetween other firings. This is a particularly good batch. There are lots of clear ones to use with my tree of life and swirl molds.
I've had several friends emptying wine and other spirit bottles for me lately so I've been running some of them through the kiln. I've added several new slumped bottles to the shop. For 2017 I'm donating $5 of every sale to WHEAT, our local food bank.
I have a couple of new slumping molds too. This one is a tree of life that looks best on clear bottles.
This wavy design is designed specifically for tea light candles but I you could use it for anything you want.
A couple of the special bottles are these two. One is a large pale blue bottle and the other is a Chateauneuf du Pape bottle.
You can see them all in the shop. I charge Medium Flat Rate shipping but refund anything over the actual cost of the shipping.
it's one thing to takes classes and read tutorials but sometimes you need to just find things out on your own. Plus I'm not good at trusting the things I read. I like to test things just to make sure.
One thing I've read about fusing glass is that you can do layers in your kiln. M kiln is big enough for 2 shelves but I've always read that fusing with 2 glass on 2 slenves will not work.
Well, the beauty of working with glass is that it's kind of hard to ruin it. You can always fuse it again and again and again. That was all the insurance I needed to try adding a shelf to see if I could produce more from one kiln firing. As advertised, it sort of didn't work.
I was going for a full fuse look. That means that the layers would fuse flat. These magnets have 4 layers of glass if you count the red dot on top. These were on the top shelf.
These were under the shelf. What a difference! This result is called tack fusing and it looks fine. It has it's place but that wasn't what I was expecting. Everything under the shelf, even just a little bit was not full fused. It makes sense because so much of the heat comes from the elements in the top of the kiln. That means that I have to refire almost everything on the bottom shelf.
But just as I was about to reload the kiln I thought of my bubble plates. Those have a step where stringers tack fused to the glass before the full fuse to trap bubbles.
And why just do an experiment. Let's fill a whole shelf! These are the top and bottom layers of a 8" plate and a 5" plate. Now I'll start filling the top layer with the pieces that need to go through again.
I'll need to get a few more scrappy fish together too. I'm making these to do a mosaic backspash for my dye sink.
Aren't these cute? I made a plate for a friend a few years ago with these little skull murini bits. I'm used the leftovers to make some magnets.
I hope to be firing up the kiln again this weekend to see how my 2-shelf set up works out.
Oh, I'm catching up on so many things this week! Now I am officially caught up on posting new glass with this new collection of slumped wine bottles. They are all in the shop and ready for gift giving!
While Laura is quilting I like to be nearby to help but not hover so I started cutting a new quilt block suncatcher. I still have 4 more pieces to cut for the 4 corners. They will be in the stringer glass. It doesn't look like it but there are four triangles around that center square. They will fuse to a bright yellow. There's still a lot of grinding and fitting to do before this one is ready for the kiln.
In between all the other things Laura and I are doing I've been able to fire up the kiln a few times. I'm waiting on some glass for a special order so I don't have much cut glass prepared but I did have a supply of bottles getting dusty waiting for firing.
I should get another mold so that I can do 4 at a time but, for now, this is how I set them up. The white coating is a flux that keeps the glass from getting a dull finish during firing.
Here's the after. Nice and shiny! See that paper under the neck of the middle bottle? I had to use that to get the bottle to stay centered in the mold. It kept wanting to roll to one side.
All cleaned and ready for photographing and listing.....whenever that happens.
It's way to hot in the summer to run the kiln in the basement so it's been several months since I had new glass for sale. This weekend I fired the kiln twice and now have new pieces for sale. Many of these are less than $40 and are perfect for gift giving.
There are new quilt blocks,
new bubble glass,
new stenciled glass,
and new soap dishes that are perfect for gift giving.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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