Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's New: Fused Glass Leather Bracelet

Typically at the beginning of the year before my show schedule starts, I like to experiment with new designs.  In fact, this is my favorite part of making glass (in addition to learning new techniques).  I've been toying around with incorporating fused glass into a leather bracelet since last year and decided now was the time.  However, I didn't really know how I would go about this as I've never worked with leather before.  So, I did a search online and found a leather company, Tandy Leather Factory, in the area and stopped in.

There, I found a kindred spirit, Jim, who also likes to jump into projects.  He was quite helpful and gave me a few ideas of how I could attach the glass to the leather, most of them involving riveting.  So, I left the store with some leather pieces, a rivet set, mallet, and hole punch and went home to figure out how I might design the bracelet with the glass attaching to the leather.

I sketched out a few design options and settled on the method straight away.  I would fused wire onto the sides of a fused glass strip that would be the center of the bracelet and attach the leather through the wire loops.  So, I fused a prototype, cut the strips of leather with a razor blade and practiced my riveting.  Note: the success of the riveting is more of a function of having the right sized rivet more than anything else, although being able to set the rivet straight (i.e. pound straight) does help.  From the prototype, I could see that the design would work, so I fused a number of glass centers and gave them a gentle slump using a bracelet mold.

Last week, I went back to see Jim and we figured out how the rest of the bracelet would come together.  I also needed Jim to give me a lesson on setting snaps. Now, I have a leather strip cutter, snap/rivet setter, leather scissors, an end punch, leather dye, applicator, and everything else I need to make a set of bracelets.

The bracelet was relatively easy to make, especially when you have someone who's willing to help you. I'm very happy with how it turned out and look forward to making more in the near future.  Let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fused Glass Pattern Bar Bowl: Lessons Learned

In my last post, I wrote about how I was able to save some of the glass that failed and showed a picture of the blank before it was slumped.  Well here's the final product:

I am thrilled with the result and it's been sitting on my kitchen table since I finished it.  This is also my first bowl as I was space constrained in my old kiln and in general I hate the idea of creating excess glass from cutting out circles (all circles are made from squares).  Although now, I'm planning to make more and have my sights on another larger bowl mold.

In the process of making this, I learned a couple of things that I thought I would pass along:

  • As the rim shows, you can no longer have a layer of clear and a layer of color, which is the normal fusing process.  The deeper the slump, the more the rim will show.  In the future, I might reverse the color (e.g. white on one side, black on the other) or have two layers of the same color.
  • I incorporated the pattern bars right into the fused blank and ended up using my tile saw to cut off the excess and grinder to neaten up the edges.  This process worked pretty well and saved me from a lot of grinding!  To determine where to cut, I used a protractor and drew a circle with a white DecoColor pen (this is what many manufacturers use to mark glass as it doesn't come off easily).
  • I needed to use a level to make sure the mold and glass was sitting evenly before I slumped it.  The mold I used is a ball shaped mold but when you put it on posts, it can shift depending upon where you have the posts.  Fortunately, it didn't look right in the kiln so I was able to adjust it before I slumped it.
As I live in the Bay Area, we just got a Bullseye Resource Center here.  One of the benefits of the Resource Center is that Bullseye has all of their molds on display with a sample of what the slumped glass looks like.  This is so helpful as the slumped glass looks differently in person than it does on their website (this is because you have the scale and depth that you don't have in photographs).  Based on looking at the bowls, I've returned two unused bowl molds and am purchasing another one that I most likely would not have purchased based on what I saw online.

Looking forward to making more of these!