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?


  1. I am a fellow glass fuser. I came across your blog via a Delphi "pinterest" email. I am a huge fan of pattern bars. These are some of the most spectacular pattern bars I have ever seen! Bravo! I will signing up to follow your blog. Thank you for the great information and inspiration.

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thanks for your comment and following the blog! Always, nice to connect with other fusers. Glad you like the pattern bars. I'll be making some more in the near future.


      P.S. I would be interested in seeing the Delphi link if you still have it.