Saturday, February 14, 2009


In previous posts, I have shared a fused glass "pattern slab" from which I cut slices. These edge pieces can be fused anew, and yesterday I made an attempt to do just that. (Note that the slices are dull and the surrounding glass is glossy. After the firing, the finished piece will all be glossy.)

After grinding off some uneven patches on the edge pieces, I placed two next to each other, creating a secondary pattern. These pieces are between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. This is important, as I needed to surround them with glass of a similar thickness, so the edges image would be contained.

Glass for fusing comes in 1/8" sheets. To make the design, I cut two of each black opalescent pieces and stacked them around the edge pieces. The height of the whole piece was therefore (sorta) uniform at 1/4".

To cut these pieces, I used my new glass cutting set-up.

[That's my granddaddy in the photo in the floor. Lots of baby boys in Live Oak, Florida were named "Joshua" after him because he was the beloved town doctor who, early in his practice, made house calls in a horse and buggy. But enough about my granddaddy...]

Do you notice any similarities to the usual set up for cloth-cutting? I run the green pistol-grip glass cutter to the left of the metal guide (this is a set-up for a leftie), and the result is a highly accurate cut (in theory -- but it usually works for me.) The yellow rectangular devices to the left of the glass are 'stops' that keep the glass from shifting during the cut. They are anchored into the grid system below, which is a honeycomb of hard plastic boxes, about 3/8" deep.

Here's a photo of the next step:

Molten glass has a mind of its own, and wants to be 1/4" thick, no matter how large the piece. In order to contain the flow and maintain the desired shape, the piece must be "dammed." There are many ways to achieve this.

In my case, since I had separate pieces that were not perfectly even, I wrapped the composition in a strip of fiber paper. This is specially manufactured for kiln firing (and expensive...). Under the glass and the fiber strips is a thicker piece of fiber paper (also expensive...).

The T-pins, you ask? What in the heck are they doing there? Won't those melt or blow up in the kiln? No.

But the T-pins are experiment on my part. When I learned how to wrap with fiber paper, we used small straight pins that were stuck in at an angle (in the photo below, a right handed demo by my stellar spectacular swell teacher Patty Gray):

However, there is a danger that the pins get stuck in too far and touch the glass -- which can result in the pin being embedded in the glass after firing (these can be extracted, but not always). In class, we constructed our pieces on a hard kiln shelf, which was then transferred into the kiln. In the photo above, the hard kiln shelf is the circular piece under the glass and fiber paper construction. (This may be too much information. In that case, just scroll through the photos!)

The method in my madness, then, was placing the whole rigmarole on a soft surface that could serve as both a bed for transferring the piece to the kiln, and an anchor for the stabilizing pins, thus avoiding the risk of getting the pins embedded in the glass

Next, I transferred the piece to the kiln. This was dammed again with "kiln furniture," pieces of hardened material that is heavy enough to stay in place during firing. (Note the small gaps between glass pieces in the first photo. I filled these with small pieces of glass.)

So, now the piece is firing. The firing program (ranging from 10-18 hours) takes into consideration the size and thickness of the piece and usually has around eight stages -- but I know that the rationale for those stages is way too much information! Tomorrow we'll see the results...

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