For my next project I decided to have a go with my Glassline Paints (all with 4mm window / float glass on this occasion) to:

1. try and salvage my heart hanging from the previous firing and test glassline on top of glass (on tin side too!)

The heart hanging from the last firing suffered from the foil evaporating more from the top hearts than the bottom ones. I have deduced that where there is space for air to escape, the foil will also ‘bubble away’ . I didn’t really like the look, so I decided to use it as a test piece for painting on glassline paints. So, although I was aware that the top of this piece was ‘tin side’ up (and enamels etc ‘react’ with the tin side according to everything you read, I thought I’d see what this meant. I painted on the red/ orange paint, around the hearts , doing several layers (leaving them to dry between each layer). I discovered you can easily ‘etch’ off paint where you don’t want it or to tidy up your design. I then added a layer of ‘crimson’ paint and this was far darker and nearer to the colour I wanted for the hearts. Thiswas then left to dry and was fired (result in bottom photo. ). Although I still didn’t like the piece that much (perhaps I should have trialled a silver / gold pilot pen on the top – a plan for next time as this is not meant to burn off in the kiln). But in others ways it was a success – the paint did indeed fuse to the top of the glass – there was no obvious reaction with the tin side of the glass , so I feel comfortable to add glassline paints to the top of glass.  (It was fired on a full fuse for float glass – programme 1 on the KCR2 controller) . This did devit the glass to some extent as this was the second full fuse firing of this piece – so I guess the advice would be to normally add the paint to the first full fuse firing.

    

2. make my own glassline paper and have a go at fusing this between layers of glass.

So my other experiment in this firing was to make some glassline paper. I purchased some small squares of bullseye thinfire paper from ebay and proceeded to paint the orange / red glassline paint onto the paper in a thin layer with a sponge type applicator (like a make-up sponge tool)/ I did two layers both sides of the paper (apparently when you purchase glassline paper it is coloured one side only – but when you make your own you can do both sides if this is important for your piece). I also added a bit of crimson paint in a third layer , again because I decided I wanted a darker colour, otherwise two layers I think would have been sufficient.

Once the paper was dry I cut some shapes out (see photo below). I did 3 small pieces , a heart, a cut out heart and a flower shape with alternating petals of the glass line paper and kitchen foil. These were put between 2 layers of 4mm float glass. i) The heart came out with a slight halo around it. My guess is that glassline paper (homemade at least) lets out some air bubbles around it – or maybe I hadn’t let the paper dry sufficiently.  But the piece was nice.  ii) The cut out heart was interesting. I had layered the paper right up to the edges of the glass. This did not work well. This prevented the edges of the glass fusing together (I guess I could have foreseen this – it is thinfire paper designed to prevent glass sticking to the kiln shelf!). So the learning here is to make sure the glassline paper is fully enclosed inside the layers of glass. iii) the flower came out really nicely and the combination with the foil petals added a delicate look that I really liked and no weird reactions between any of the materials.

3. test glassline paints between layers (non-tin side)

The last test in this kiln was a test of using glassline paints between two layers of glass. I did 3 stripes of differing colours). These again came out really nicely and this would make a nice pendant. Very simple and looks really nice.

 

Firing schedule was a full fuse for float glass preset programme on the KCR2 controller. This worked well.

This Project was a kiln load of window glass and foil. All follow on from the original window glass test project I did. They are all the same 4mm window glass as before. I used the same water drop test to identify the tin side. So all projects were 2 layer 4mm window glass with tin side on bottom and top and kitchen foil cut out shapes in the middle. The only extra test in this kiln is the fish item. On this project I added the tiniest sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda in the middle of the layers with the foil with the aim of producing bubbles in the glass. I suspect I may not have added enough bicarb, but everything I had read said a little goes a long way, so I started very conservatively.

This load has been put on on preset programme 1 on the kiln. It was put on papyros paper as I hadn’t had time yet to re-kiln wash the shelf since the last firing. I shall update on the outcome. I am a bit worried as to whether the items are spaced out enough (as the glass will spread to become 6mm thick from 8mm. I guess I will find out how well (or not) I have judged this. I am hoping I haven’t crammed too much in!.

So, the outcome was mixed, with a lot of learning. I have come to the conclusion that if there is space for air to escape between the glass layers then more of the ‘foil’ will ‘disappear.  This can be seen in several of the pieces, particularly where the wire hooks / hangers have been. This is particularly apparent in the heart hanging, where the hearts are gradually more solid the further away from the hanging wire that they are.

Am pleased with the fish and bubble trial. I put minimal bicarbonate of soda on the glass, yet the bubbles are big. I also plan to try out using borax as I’ve read that this should make smaller bubbles, so I can compare the two.

For my next project I wanted to have a go at recycling wine bottles and had started reading and researching. I wanted to steer away from the slumping bottles trend and ideally was looking at how I could turn a bottle into something else. In my mind there were two avenues to explore –

  1. turning the bottles into bits / frit that could then be fused together / used in molds
  2. turning the bottles into glass sheets that could then be cut and made into other items

My conclusion was that the best way to do 1. would involve either taking hot bottles out of the kiln and plunging into cold water in the thermal shock method or smashing bottles with a hammer and putting through a frit piston (along with the dangers of all of the glass dust created). I felt that I was not ready to do either of these yet as my confidence in using a hot kiln or handling lots of glass dust was just not there yet. I also suspect things like using a frit piston will be easier being done outside in the warmer weather.

So, I turned my attention to 2.  That is, creating glass tiles / sheets from bottles that hopefully could then be cut into shapes etc to create other items. In pursuance of this I collected together some wine bottles. Soaked and cleaned them. Despite adding bicarbonate of soda,  vanish and white vinegar to the warm water, the labels either slid off easily ( bottles of Ned) or stubbornly stuck fast ( bombay spice). There definately must be a better way to remove labels! The internet claims anything from just soaking in water and soap   to using bicarbonate of soda, borax and white vinegar. Ones I haven’t yet tried are olive oil and nail polish remover.

Those bottles where I had been able to remove labels from were placed in the oven to dry. I had purchased a glass bottle cutter from Amazon a few days before. There were two dominant types online. One being a circular cutter type design, the other being a lie-down cutter. Both had good reviews and I just picked one to try. My aim was to follow this method or this alternative method (both on glasswithapast) for creating flat glass.

Unfortunately on my first attempt at using the bottle cutter, the glass bottle shattered when trying to score it and left me with a nasty gash on my arm.

I decided to take a rain check to up my safety protection for cutting bottles and have ordered a face shield, cut resistant gloves and sleeves in readiness for a future attempt once my arm has healed. It also made it very obvious to me that none of the tutorials / youtube videos I had seen demonstrating the glass bottle cutters had shown / used or even suggested the use of safety equipment. (I had been wearing my safety goggles, but had reserved my gloves until the actual breaking the score line part). The lesson learned for me is that bottle glass is not predictable and I’ll certainly be wearing hand and arm protection all through the process in future in addition to eye and face visors. This youtube video does show the use of gloves, goggles and mask and is a bit more comprehensive than some of the other instructions I have seen.

My next project / kiln load has been a combination of making a few gifts, experimenting with cutting shapes, layers, foil inclusions and creating pebbles. This really has been a test load of ideas, plus a test of whether I had kiln washed the shelf properly!

For all of these projects I used 3mm bullseye glass.  (As this kiln load contains gifts I’ll add all of the photos and a bit more detail once gifts have been received.). Kiln was fired on KCR2 preset programme 3 for a full fuse.

Number 1 is an engagement gift with a sea theme.

(photo to follow)

Number 2 is a birthday gift with a butterfly theme. (a test of foil inclusions in bullseye glass and doubted my ability to cut a butterfly out of glass!)

Number 3 is a gift with a fish theme (a test of cutting shapes)

Number 4 is a test of  creating a pendant (a test of how smaller bits and layers of glass fuse together)

Number 5 is a test of creating a little fairy type figure. (A test in cutting skills and how to add features / patterns)

Number 6 is a test of cutting skills and is a 2 layer heart.

 

Number 7 is a test of how little shards of glass fuse (am hoping for tiny pebbles to be created )

Very happy with the outcome. Nothing stuck to the kiln washed shelf so I feel a bit more confident with using kiln wash as opposed to always needing to use kiln paper. I did find that the kiln wash stuck to some specific items (all of the pink opal) but hardly anything else (transparent bullseye), but I felt that this has left the shelf needing to be kiln washed again before reusing. I expected to get several firings out of the one kiln wash, but maybe this is because the kiln has only had one lot of kiln wash and as it builds up it maybe will last longer? I also know that the lower firing temperature the more fires you get from one wash. As this was a full fuse, maybe the wash will last once. Therefore, before the shelf can be reused I am anticipating having to use kiln paper until being able to scrape the shelf and reapply wash (and allow 24 hours to dry again).

All in all happy with the items. Super pleased with my gifts and the way the pebbles turned out. Complete photos to follow once gifts have been received…..

 

Time to test out kiln wash vs using papyros paper as ultimately this has got to be the most economical way forward. Mixed 1 part bullseye kilnwash with 5 parts water and mixed up in an old ice cream tub. I then used the largest of the goats hair brushes I’d bought from Amazon to apply 5 coats (up / down/ diagonal/ diagonal/ up) as per instructions and have left the shelf in the kitchen to dry (I believe this should take 24 hours). I’ve resisted drying it in the kiln as I’m still not too sure about whether you really should put damp things into a glass kiln for drying so I need to read a bit more about this first. I’m going for a natural dry on this occasion.

Update – this was used in my next firing and it was completely successful as no glass items stuck to yhe shelf. Interestingly though the pink glass (on the face and hands of the little figure had kiln wash stuck to them, but nothing else did). I did decide that because of this, I would not risk a second firing without scraping and re-kiln washing the shelf.

Having started with Bullseye glass, my daughter had a project for school to ‘recycle something that would normally be thrown away’ by making it into something else and I find myself diverted off towards ‘float glass’. Also, since reading in Brad Walker’s book that normal kitchen foil and drinks cans can be added as an inclusion in glass, I was just looking for an excuse to try it. So, the plan is to make a coaster with my daughter’s name in foil / drinks can cut out and sandwiched between the glass.

I visited the local glazier and asked if he had any scraps and he gave me some scrap glass for free on the promise of doughnuts :-). What a star. The scraps were 4mm thick.

So, several issues to solve/ note here:

– Fusing schedule for window glass needed (and two layers of this scrap glass will be 8mm). I have decided to use the default schedule for a float glass fuse on the KCR2 controller (preset 1) . Despite being for 4-6mm, it will be a starting point for testing.

– Violation of the 6mm rule so this glass is going to spread upon full fuse (as it will start at 8mm)

How to tell the tin side of the glass and then what to do with this fact. I used the water test and then marked the glass with a sharpie pen on the side I thought was the tin side. As the tin side can react with all sorts of things it seems right that the tin sides need to go on the outside and the other side will be on the inside of the coaster sandwiching the tin can / foil.

I decided to do a test piece, both to test if I had identified the tin side correctly, to test spread at 8mm thick, to test the effects

of both coke can and kitchen foil inclusions and to test the firing schedule. The piece I put in the kiln is as shown in the picture. I used my own glass cleaning mix to clean the glass (50% white vinegar / 50% rubbing alcohol). There are so many suggestions regarding different combinations for cleaning on the fused glass fanatics facebook group. This is the one I thought I’d try as someone had mentioned that this was suggested to them at a bullseye workshop.

 

 

 

The piece came out as shown. There were far more larger bubbles around the can foil, with smaller bubbles around the kitchen foil (a look I preferred). My fault that the hearts were slightly off centre. The glass had spread out as anticipated. Another thing of note is that the top layer was not flat but was raised around the hearts – thus this method could not be used where the surface needed to be flat as on a coaster. Food for thought. Pleased with how it came out and the water test for the tin side appears to have been successful.

 

As if by magic, I am struck down with flu and Brad Walker’s book arrives in the post. Today I will be tucked up under my duvet absorbing knowledge. 🙂 . My head is so full of questions, I’m hoping this book will answer many of them and give me a good grounding going forward.

Update … Was very impressed with the book as a starter book for beginners. It gave me the confidence that I was on the right track, knew the fundamentals and had the right tools and safety equipment to just go and experiment. I also made a few notes of interesting things and of other equipment that should go on my list.

So, in anticipation of ‘what do I do now?’, I did a bit of googling. Apart from suggestions to start off with making a coaster or similar, I really didn’t find much online that would hold my hand over what to do when stood in a room with a kiln, glass and tools.

There were some suggested books on the Facebook forums and I chose to order Brad Walkers book from Warm Glass (best price I could find and forget trying to find this second hand! which I took as a good sign). However, I was raring to go and the book hadn’t yet arrived.

Hence my first ‘project was spawned’. I decided to try and answer some of the questions I had by what I put in the kiln.

The HobbyFuser 3 comes with some preset programs on the KCR2 controller. Glasshoppa gives a nice explanation of the stages of firing. I decided to go for a contour fuse on program 3.

I did a set of 4 very similar ‘hanging sticks’. They all used 3mm bullseye glass from the warm glass 1.5kg cool glass and clear glass student packs.

1 (top right) – A strip of clear tekta, with pieces of coloured 3mm blue and green glass on top adjoining.

2 (bottom right) – As above but with the colours on the bottom and the clear strip on top

3 (top middle) – As for 1 but with gaps between the coloured glass

4 (bottom middle) – As for 2 but with gaps between the coloured glass

These were to answer for me, do you always need a solid layer on each layer or can you have gaps and what is the difference in look depending if the solid clear strip is under or over the coloured glass.

5 (top left) – I then did some overlapping 3mm square shapes. I wanted to answer whether you can just use a single layer to create things and how the shapes change on doing this (I’m guessing the schedule will not be good for this thinner piece and expect it to be very melted/ flat and fused)

6 (bottom left) – I also wanted to see the opposite of 5 , so what happens when you add more than two layers (i.e. more than the magic 6mm total that is the magic depth for everything staying the same shape/ size) and how this effects the piece and whether there is a difference if the added 3rd or 4th layer is up to the edge or not.

I put a small loop of nichrome wire sandwiched between the layers at the top of each piece because I figured no matter how they came out they’d look pretty enough to hang up somewhere to catch the light. Having googled, there seemed no ideal gauge size of wire to use (thickness of wire). E.g see Glass with a Past’s article on nichrome. I chose nichrome over copper wire as research suggested this was less likely to discolour. The higher the gauge, the thinner the wire. I opted for some 24gauge wire from Amazon. I bent it into staples with my pliers and was pleased with the result.

I then had a dilemma as to bung in or bung out. The kiln was nearly new and had been fired about 6 times and had been stood in a cold outbuilding for a while. It was 50/50 and I opted for bung in.

My pieces were placed on papyros paper on a kiln shelf and props. This was for ease and quickness as I’ve not got my set up ready to start kilnwashing (still awaiting haik brushes from amazon).

The next morning this was the result in the kiln (very pleased with my first firing experiment) and it has taught me a lot.

My next plan is to experiment with the tack fusing preset program in a similar way so I can start to get a feel of how to visualise how different pieces will come out of the kiln, which hopefully will then help me to plan some designed pieces.

So after a few days of manic painting, cutting lino and stopping a passerby to help us to lift the kiln out of the back of the car and into the studio, we’ve got to the point of having a space to use. It may still have quite a long snag list but today I got a dust free space to put my table in the room, with tablecloth and cutting board and some tools ready to go. Have acquired a metal frame from facebook marketplace that we will eventually turn into a nice workbench across one wall.  So excited, but had also anticipated the ‘lost’ feeling of ‘what do I do now?’. Where do I start? See my next post for that….