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?