Monday, December 31, 2012

360 Fusion: Year in Review and Fused Glass Goals for 2013

For the past two years, my fusing goals are pretty much the same - create new fused glass plate/platter and panel designs as well as jewelry designs and use up scrap or excess glass.  Scrap is what's left over when you cut out sheet glass.  As everything is made with sheet glass, you accumulate a lot of small bits of glass every year.  Fortunately, I don't seem to be accumulating too much more; however, I don't seem to be making a dent either.  I guess you could say that "holding steady" is not so bad but I'm going to make a concerted effort in 2013.  

As for my goals for 2012, there were some things that I did and others that will roll over to 2013.  Here's how I fared: 
  • Create pattern bars and use them in plates, platters and panels - done. For 2013, I plan to expand this into larger platters, smaller plates, pendants, and bowls 
  • Experiment with bowls using high temp shelf melts, frit and small glass pieces - rolled over to 2013.  I tried making a few bowls this year but they did not turn out as I had hoped and unfortunately added to my scrap pile.
  • Make small plates from pot melt centers - done.  I tried this but wasn't really happy with the result.  I may try to do something with screen melts.
  • Create dichroic frit and consider using it to decorate boxes - rolled over to 2013.
  • Expand into new types of jewelry: wire-wrapped almond shaped pendants, wire-wrapped coiled pendants with gemstones, stretch and charm bracelets, rings, and new earring designs - all done with the exception of rings, which will be rolled over to 2013
  • Experiment with new holiday ornaments (hearts and a new snowflake design) - made a new wreath ornament, decided against the new snowflake design and rolled the heart ornaments over to 2013.
Other things accomplished this year included: getting a new kiln (and the 220V wiring), wet belt sander and DSLR camera.  In addition, I purchased pipe & drape for indoor shows.  My "studio" is getting a little crowded but I am very thankful for items with castors!

In addition to this year's goals that I'm rolling over to 2013, my fusing goals for the upcoming year include the following:
  • Expand and refine jewelry designs (I try to turn over my designs every other year)
  • Make draped votive holders and experiment with layering glass
  • Experiment with various Christmas tree ornaments
I'll be posting as I progress through the year.  However, as I've already written about some of the techniques, I'll try not to be repetitive.  Currently, I've been making a few shelf melts in new colors that I'll cut up so I can restock my plate inventory which is pretty low.  I also will be making some new pattern bars as I have a commission platter that due in January although I'm still waiting for my glass distributor to get in a certain color that I'll be using for the base.

2012 has been a good year for me, especially in terms of glass fusing.  I hope it's also been a good year for you too.  Happy New Year and best wishes for an even better 2013!  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fused Glass Holiday Ornaments & Decorations

Happy Holidays from 360 Fusion!

Every season I make a new type of ornament and expand my holiday coaster selection.  Here's my new ornament for this year:

This wreath is made from crushed glass frit that I made myself.  I used a combination of opaque and transparent glass and formed the shape using a round cookie cutter and then pushed the glass around a bit to fill in the gaps.  The red balls are made from coarse red frit that's been fired at 1500 degrees.  The ornament is tack fused at 1350 degrees with a round wired loop that used for the hanger.  For my first attempt, I thought I could drill a hole but the fragility of the tack fused, crushed glass wouldn't withstand the pressure of the drill.  I'm happy with how this turned out as the texture of the glass gives the wreath more dimension.

Last year I made these fused glass coasters in red (which is still my favorite), but this year I expanded the color spectrum to include an olive and Christmas green.  The clear glass "fracture & streamer" glass already included red and green but I augmented the glass with red and green confetti (thin glass chards) to add more color.  It turns out that these colors were just as popular as the red one.

As Christmas is just around the corner, I wanted to wish you and your family a very blessed and joyous holiday.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Early Christmas Gifts: New Kilns

When I started fusing, I didn't know whether it would be a viable business for me, so rather than spend $1000 to install 220 voltage for a larger kiln, I went with the largest kiln I could get at 120 voltage.

This has been a great little work horse for me. But now it' time for me upgrade as I'm doing a little more complex work and could use the extra space.  I just happened to be at San Francisco Open Studios at Public Glass and mentioned this to a fellow artist when another artist overheard me.  Long story short, I ended up purchasing two of his kilns!

This first one, almost doubles the amount of glass I can fire in a load.  While I was hoping to get an even larger kiln, I couldn't beat the price.  Here's a sample of what it looks like with coasters:

The second kiln is much smaller and will be used as a vitrograph for making and pulling my own cane glass that I'll cut up and use in future work.  Of course, this means that I'll be taking a class from Bullseye in the near future to learn the technique.  My favorite part of the glasswork is experimenting and planning. So, I have a habit of getting items or taking classes well in advance of when I actually make it.  Most likely, I won't be pulling any cane until 2014 but the kiln was such a good deal that I couldn't pass it up.  Anyway, look for new items from me using this new kiln in 2013.

For other glass enthusiasts, fusers or artists, what are you hoping to get from Santa this year?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's New: Fused Glass Marquis & Millefiori Earrings

I posted about my new marquis shaped wire wrapped pendants and millefiori pendants.

Well, I decided that it would be nice to have some similar earrings that would coordinate nicely with them. I'm not really a matchy-matchy type person, so the earrings are similar but not exact.  At the same time, I was looking to expand the earring styles I have to include new shaped.  Below are the latest additions to my earring collection:

I like the difference in the two styles and both are post earrings which I find some people look for.  Of course, both are somewhat dangly as that's my preference in earrings.  I would be interested in hearing what you think.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New! Fused Glass Charm Bracelets

Normally, I do most of my creating at the beginning of the year but somehow most of the work has been in the past couple of months.  In my prior post, I showed a picture of a fused glass stretch bracelet.  Here's another type of bracelet: a charm bracelet with fused glass dangles.

The inspiration for this is my charm bracelet watch.  I receive some many compliments on it that I thought about how I could make a charm bracelet using fused glass.  To make this, I first found the relevant components that would work on the bracelet.  Then I measured the size so I could make the right sized glass pieces to fit.  The bracelet that I had pictured in my mind didn't work as well as the gaps between charms were too wide, so I next found beads that would work.  I'm still toying around with the design a little (considering adding a toggle clasp) but overall I'm happy with how it turned out.

Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvement.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's New: Fused Glass Stretch Bracelets

I love creating new designs for fused glass and for my jewelry.  I often have a vision for what I want to create although it can take a while before it comes to fruition, especially if I have to create multiple versions.

Below is one of the first of my stretch glass bracelets:

I'm quite happy with how this turned out.  I wanted to create something using transparent glass without any existing jewelry findings.  To make this, I first fused 1" glass bars which contained fiber paper for the holes.  Next, I cut up the bars and tack fused the dichroic design layer to create large glass "beads." Then, I strung the beads together with Swarovski crystal in between so that it bends easier.  The beads also add a nice design element.  I like the chunkiness of how the bracelet turned out.

I've made 4 of these so far and have about 10 more that I'll be stringing in the next day or so.  I'll post again once I've finished.  Let me know what you think.  I don't keep many of my jewelry items for myself but one of these may find its way into my possession :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's New: Wire Wrapped Fused Glass Marquis Pendants

Some of you may have seen my wire wrapped dichroic glass hearts, which I've been making for a number of years.

To expand on that idea, I now have wire wrapped marquis shaped pendants.  The process of making them are similar, although I've changed the decorative wire wrapping a little.  The first step is to cut out the marquis shape.  Next, I coldwork the shape to smooth out the edges and grind a channel or grove in the side, which helps the wire stay in place.  The pendant goes back into the kiln to be fire polished.

Once it comes out, I select Swarovski crystal beads that match the colors in the glass and cut square sterling silver wire to use as the wrap.  Here's the first of several that I've made:

I know not everyone is a heart person, so I'm hoping this shape will appeal to those who aren't.  Another new item: sterling silver marquis shaped earrings with fused glass dangles (to come in a later post).  These should go nicely with the pendant.

Another new thing is that I purchased a DSLR camera and macro lens so I can take better pictures of my jewelry.  I've been challenged with getting the colors of the dichroic glass and I'm happy with how these pictures turned look forward to more jewelry posts to come in the future.  Taking photos has been one of the things I least enjoy but with my new camera, I'm beginning to have a little fun.  I'd be interested in your thoughts on the photos and pendant, of course!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Add Some Summer Sizzle: Fused Glass Wire Wrapped Pendant with Gemstones

I've been looking for ways to "step up" my fused glass jewelry, especially because I would like to enter better shows, which typically require that I jury in my jewelry.  So, I've taken a few wire-wrap classes to help me.  I also have a few extra gemstones that I thought would add that extra sparkle -- even through there's enough with the dichroic glass alone.  Here's the first of my wire wrapped pendants.  It includes pearls, pink topaz and pink amethyst.

This was harder to make than I though as the technique works better with beads.  I am planning to make a few more in blues and purples.  I'd be interested in your thoughts.  

Also, I hope to be sharing more jewelry photos in the near future.  I've been challenged with accurately representing all the colors in the dichroic glass but have invested in a DSLR camera and a macro lens, so hopefully, I'll have some good photos to share as I'm working on some new designs.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How To Get 50 Different Glass Magnets From 3 Pattern Bars

This year, I participated in a magnet exchange with members of the Warm Glass board.  It's actually called a "magless" exchange because everyone provides the glass but not the magnets (saves on shipping).

Since I've been playing around with pattern bars, I decided to try a couple of new variations, with designs that I might use for a larger plate.  I started with a couple of frit bars (2 color – opaque and transparent from frit I made) as well as a random pattern bar (technique learned from Brock Craig).

My first round of pattern bars were 2 ½” wide – this is because these were the narrowest dams I had (actually, I could have made some 1 ½”wide had I thought about using the width in advance)  After a little coldworking, I combined those bars with layered sheet glass into a new pattern bar.  I did this in two steps to create a nice clean line between the layered sheet glass and the bars, which I fired again. The second bar has layers of black and red sheet glass with red transparent and opaque frit.

The final bars were ground, cut with a tile saw and coated with devitrication spray before being fire polished.

Before firing:

After firing:

What I learned:
  • Large pieces of frit condensed down more than I expected – I knew this but didn’t think about it as I was limited to the amount of frit I had.  Fortunately, this wasn’t an issue as I had already planned to combine it with sheet glass.
  • It’s best to plan the size of the pattern bars ahead of time so that you have the right sized dams.  At the time I cut up my kiln shelves, I had not planned on making narrow pattern bars (i.e. wasn’t planning on making maglesses), so I had to get creative with using the dams to make everything fit as the final bars were less than 2 ½” wide but not 1 ½” wide.
  • I misjudged how many pieces I would have once I cut up the pattern bars. The blade ate up more glass than I anticipated.
  • The devitrification spray did not work as well as I hoped – I should have sprayed a heavier coat and took the time to swab the sides (easier to do with one large plate than 64 maglesses).  Originally, I planned to sandblast them, which I should have done but was feeling a little rushed to finish them and opted for the “quicker” route rather than drive to the city to use the sandblaster.
And, here's what I received in exchange.  I have to say I was quite thrilled opening the box and looking at all the different designs. 

Here's a few of the more intricate designs and the ones that particularly appeal to me:

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all of them.  My husband has suggested that put magnets on them, buy a nice board and put them up over my work area in garage.  Any other suggestions?  Which ones do you like?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Live Jury Experience

In my prior post, I mentioned part of the reason that I was creating new work besides just overall interest in the technique was for a live jury that I had this month.  Normally, jurying just involved submitting photographs but for this jury, each candidate had to select 8-12 pieces that they would set up on a 6' table.  The jurying took place at Fort Mason, San Francisco and all the artists had to be set up by 7:00 pm.  Then we had to clear the room (a waiting area was provided) and come back at 9:30 pm to pick up our work.  Fortunately, I live in Oakland, so it wasn't too difficult to travel back and forth.  However, some artists drove from Chico or Los Angeles and had to spend the night.

Here's what my table looked like:

While, its a little hard to see each item,  this give you an idea of my display and set up - symmetrical, on white, with lights behind the three main pieces, which was a nice effect as I didn't get the benefit of being in front of the window once the sun went down.

Unfortunately though, I was not accepted to be an exhibiting member.  The feedback was that while the judges appreciated the technique, they wanted to see a deeper exploration in terms of form.  I should mention that the jury was made up of ceramicists and glass artists, so for a ceramicist it's much easier to have different forms of bowls, vases...etc.  Their comment was that my shapes looked similar, which was actually my intent.  I make plates and platter in the same shape so that they can be mixed and matched.

However, they encouraged me to apply again (next jury will be in October; although jury members will be different).  So I guess in the meantime, I'll be playing around with some bowls and possibly draping to get a vase-like effect.  If you have any suggestions for other forms, please let me know.  And, when I get around to taking close-up photos to put on my website, I'll include them in a post so you can better see the designs (or include a link to my website).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Fused Glass Pattern Bars - Part 2: Design

My last post ended with me firing my second batch of pattern bars.  Unfortunately, the kiln failed and I needed to replace the relay, which delayed me for a little while.  For the second batch, I used longer glass pieces, which seemed to increase the height of the end product.

Once the bars come out, they may need to be ground around the edges to remove the glass burs as well as make them flat and smooth.  This will help as you lay them out since you want the cut glass to line up rather than have little areas that flare out.

After the bars are ground, they are cut up with a tile saw.  The slices are about 1/4" wide.  To help with cutting, it's good to have a fused piece of glass that you can put against the end of bar to avoid chipping as the blade runs through the end.  Also when the bar gets thin, I like to put a piece of glass underneath to steady the bar.

Here are the results from two firings of blue/green and multi-colored pattern bars.

The next step is to sandblast the bars to prevent devitrification.  After this, the bars are ready to be used in a design.  These were just loaded into the kiln today.

After they're fired, I'll coldwork the edges to make sure they are smooth.  Then, I'll fire them again, turning them over (so what you will see is the reverse of the photo).  And the last step will be to slump them so they can be shaped into plates and platters.  My goal is to have about 10-11 pieces done by 3/12 for a juried (in person) event.  In a later post, I'll show you my set-up for the jury and you can see the finished pieces.

This is a new effort for me.  These are already a favorite of my husband.  I like the result but find that I don't enjoy making these as much as some of the other things I've made.  Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making Fused Glass Pattern Bars - Part 1: Prep

I have been fascinated by pattern bars as I love the colors and designs that they make.  However, the "how to's" of pattern bars are not easy to find.  So in 2009, I took a class on how to make them offered by Brock Craig in Vancouver, Canada.  While I had planned to take the class later (closer to the time I actually planned to make them), this was Brock's last class and I wanted to learn the technique, a couple of which he developed.

Here's an example of what Brock calls a "random pattern bar." I've also seen this technique referred to as a "progressive pattern bar," which I find a little more descriptive.  While I made the pattern bar in Brock's class, I finally got around to fusing the bars into a panel and I am very happy with the results.

Making pattern bars require a fair amount of prep work.  The first thing you need are dams for containing the glass.  To calculate the number of dams I would need and their size, I did the following:

  • Determined how I would use the pattern bars in finished work - this tells me the height of the dam
  • Next I made a plan for how I would lay out the pattern bars on the shelf - this tells me how many dams I needs of each size 
  • Then I made a plan of how I would cut up my kiln shelves.  Note: if you don't have a tile saw, you can go to a ceramics supply store and have them cut it for you or you can purchase dams from Bullseye, although this will get a little pricey.

It took me a while to cut up the kiln shelves as my rip guide broke and I needed to order another one from the manufacturer.  Cutting the shelves was like cutting butter - so easy compared to cutting up glass but also pretty messy as the ground ceramic was everywhere. 

Once the shelves are cut, the next step is to apply kiln wash to the dams, ideally on both sides.

I just loaded my first firing - 4 pattern bars.  It took A LOT longer than I anticipated.  Although I had already determined that my first round would contain blues and greens, it took me a while to cut the glass and figure out how I wanted to lay everything out - ideally, altering opaque and transparent glass.  I also had a problem with getting all the glass into the area for the pattern bar, so I think my pattern bars will end up thinner than I would like.  The way you're supposed to do it right is to figure out the ideal weight based on the size (which I did) but I couldn't physically get all the glass in the allotted space.  So next time, I will need to cut wider pieces and see if that works.

The glass just went into the kiln and the next post will share how they came out and show the additional bars (multi-colored) that I plan to make over the next couple of days.