Taking a break from recycling bottles to do some proper glass cutting and make something. Wanted to make something for the garden and found inspiration in glasshoppa’s sunflower tutorial. Video can be found on Youtube and info sheet is here

I followed this method to create a multicoloured flower. I used glastac rather than aloe vera gel to keep the pieces together and i used black glassline paint to do the pattern on the centre of the flower ( as had no frit).

Very pleased overall. Middle of flower was full fused on the preprogrammed contour fuse on the Kcr controller.

Before firing ( dots done with glassline) . Circle on yellow/ amber over circle of clear tekta.

After firing

I then altered this for second firing with petals for an intended tack fuse to retain petal definition.

Before firing ( papyros is keeping a hole retained for later hanging). Put flower together on papyros paper on kiln shelf before moving into kiln.

After fusing ( fused more than hoped with regards tacking the petals)

I took the top fusing temp down to ? ( my first tack fuse). This was too hot and if repeated I would lower the top temp further to retain more definition.

But pleased with the outcome. Used papyros paper to retain a gap in the piece for use for hanging and this worked well too.

I would maybe move the ‘hole’ nearer a petal edge for hanging if I made this again.

Lots of room for improvement, but good glass cutting practice and a good first attempt!

Thoroughly recommend glasshoppa tutorials. Very simple and clear to follow.

I have played around with some different firing schedules. Quite time consuming. There are so many available on the internet. Here’s my results and think I have found something I’m kind of happy with.

 

First schedule was from a Facebook forum and as often is the case I had to convert the schedule from F to C. So this was my test schedule;

149/hr to 316 hold 15min to dry bottles

121/hr to 595 hold 20 min

204/hr to 787 hold 10 min

AFAP to 571 hold 45 min

10/hr to 382 hold 0 min   END

So the result was OK. The glass slumped to shape and the necks had closed. However, there were lots of spiky edges, which I believe probably meant that the temperature had gone too high. So for the next trial I decided to try a schedule with a lower top temperature.

So the next schedule used was the mould manufacturers schedule (I had not used this as had found other people using the same moulds who had said that the schedule doesn’t work and had suggested the one I tried (above) as working.

This schedule had a cooler top temperature:

260/hr to 82 hold 30 mins

260/hr to 593 hold 20 mins

93/hr to 732 hold 5 mins

AFAP to 549 hold 45 mins

66/hr to 371 hold 0   END

The feel of the resulting glass was very smooth and definately better than the first result in that way, but the neck bottles had failed to close and the bottom of the bottles were still too chunky and not melted enough for my taste.

My guess was that either I needed a higher top temperature and/or a longer hold at the top temperature or a slower and hotter ramp up. I looked at some other schedules and chose the glass campus bottle slump schedule, mainly because their flatten bottle schedule had worked well for me and my kiln. It also had a top temperature less than my first trial and more than the second. Unlike other schedules it also had a long hold at the top temperature (most other schedules for bottle slumping into molds have max 5 min hold at top, often it is 0 or couple of mins). The ramp up and down varies between schedules being around 535-595

So I largely used Glass campuses bottle schedule, just adding the bottle dry from the first schedule I tried (cos this sounds like a good idea and doesn’t seem to do any harm)

Schedule:

149/hr to 316 hold 15 mins

200/hr to 535 hold 20 mins

500/hr to 760 hold 30 mins

AFAP to 535 hold 60 mins

200/hr to 150 hold 0     END

 

The results of this I liked. Smooth, necks closed, no real obvious bubbles inside. My only question would be whether I could stop the curve in in the sides, but I’m guessing not, as even when I look at the lower temperature fuse of my second trial, this is the shape of the bottle coming out of the mould.

Comparing the first and third trials, the overall look and feel of the first is a lot chunkier. It seems to have more bumps in the glass and is less well defined. I could continue to experiment with ramp up temperatures and hold lengths, but as I was pretty happy with trial 3 , I decided to use the same schedule again on different moulds and with a heavier bottle in the split dish mould.

 

The fourth trial used the same schedule as the third.

The heavier bottle in the split mold came out a bit chunkier and with a few glass spikes. I guess I don’t want to increase the top temperature further , so one option may be to experiment with a higher temperature at the ramp up as per the first schedule ? The big dish worked out fine on this schedule. The candle holder dish did not work. This was left far too chunky and the bottle folding over ruins the use of it.  Therefore, I was happy with the basic dish slump, but I thought maybe try another method that I had read about for the candle holder. That would be to fully flatten the bottle first and then slump into the mould

For my fifth trial I played around with the schedule in that I removed the hold at the top temperature. My thinking was that the bottle was already ‘melted’, it needed only to ‘slump’ into the mould. I tried this out on both a thicker bottle in the split mould and a normal bottle in the candle mould. I reused a couple of bottles I had previously slumped flat (using glass campuses flatten bottle schedule). I then placed them in the kiln using the following schedule:

149/hr to 316 hold 15 mins

200/hr to 535 hold 20 mins

500/hr to 760 hold 0 mins

AFAP to 535 hold 60 mins

200/hr to 150 hold 0     END

 

 

I was quite happy with the results for the candle holder and think this is probably the only way to use the mould. The split dish worked fine also. The ‘shoulder’ bubble from the flattening however remains in the dish, so better reults are probably gained by just slumping a bottle (though depends what look you like at the bottom end, as in this version there is a far smoother end of the bottle and a more spacious dish space as the bottle end is less prominent).

I also placed a non flattened bottle into another split dish mould on the same firing just for curiosity of what effect the hold at the top temperature is having. The result was a slumped bottle with the neck still open – thus this confirms to me that the 30 min hold at the top of the schedule is needed in order to close the neck.

Thus I think now I have a schedule for flattening bottles (glass campus), a schedule for slumping into dish moulds (trial 3) and a schedule for slumping into the candle mould (flatten bottle schedule and then trial 5). Obviously some tweaking may need to be done around the schedules for different weights and colours of glass, but happy that I have some basics to start from.

 

Just because …….. I got a second hand mold from eBay, cleaned it up (with a washing up sponge and wet sandpaper) and kilnwashed it.

Strange mold as it seems too big for a beer bottle and too small for a wine bottle.

I wondered if I’d have to clean the mold each time and re-kiln wash. After checking information at Warm Glass for the kilnwash (using Bullseye kilnwash) this said that firings over 704 degrees Celsius would need to be cleaned off and re kiln washed. (Though other info suggests that molds need only be ‘touched up’ with kilnwash between firings – guess another thing to test). So I thought I would try a cooler schedule first to see if I could get away with a firing that would allow me to reuse the mold without repeatedly re- kiln washing.

I also tested drying the kiln shelf/ mold in the kiln (usually leave in kitchen for 24-48 hours) but took the kiln to 260 degrees for 20 mins (bung out) and just left to cool down as recommended on Warm Glass

I tried the slump float glass schedule on the KCR2 programmer as thiswent up to 700 as a high temp .

 

and got the following result:

The schedule was good enough to seal the bottle opening and left the bottle quite chunky. My feeling is that a hotter schedule is required.

I also put some other items into the kiln to see what would happen at this lower temperature to test a few other things:

  • tacking bottle glass (green bottle thinner than Bombay Saphire
  • whether pilot pens do indeed not burn off in the kiln
  • look of glassline paints on surface or between glass

 

 

My friend gave me a bag of empty Bombay Saphire bottles so I decided to test schedules for flattening these bottles and for flattening broken bottles for making into other items.

Before and after pictures below.

   

The schedule used worked well. This was the ‘wine bottle flatten’  glass campus firing schedule:

rate 200C to 535C hold 20 mins

rate 500C to 815C hold 30 mins

rate AFAP to 535C hold 60 mins

rate 200C to 150C hold 0 mins

 

Next project / test was to just slump a wine bottle flat. Has to be done, everyone does it and wanted to see how it came out. Not expecting to

particularly like it.  I had originally wanted to do flat glass tiles with wine bottles, but after the difficulty of

cutting them (have decided to try and watch out for a second hand creators bottle cutter before I attempt again) I thought I’d try another way.

So, in with my bottle to slump flat, I also took a hammer to a second bottle (bottle put inside 2 ‘bags for life’ , covered in cardboard and tapped with a hammer. On the second ‘tap’ the bottle broke. I was hoping for large pieces of bottle to slump flat – the idea being to get some decent sized glass pieces to slump flat that could then be cut into shapes and refired to make something ‘completely different’.

Firing schedules for bottles are a bit of a minefield and the KCR2 controller does not come with a bottle slump schedule (it has a bottle firing schedule – but not clear what this is for). I therefore googled a few schedules online and picked one to try. I went for the ‘wine bottle flatten’  Glasscampus schedule.

The results were a nicely flattened wine bottle. (Confirmed it’s not really ‘my thing’ and not sure what I would really do with this). But, the schedule seemed right for wine bottle flattening, should I wish to do this again. However, for the pieces of glass (which were half the thickness of the wine bottle) the schedule was maybe too hot/ long as it had given the pieces long enough to try and become 6mm. These also stuck to the Papyros paper more than the flat wine bottle. I’m wondering if there is a schedule that will be able to slump the pieces flat , without bringing them to a full fuse temperature as much as this.

However, on testing, the pieces will cut (on flat side) quite nicely and so the concept of producing flat pieces that can be cut up and made into other pieces looks feasible. Just got to work on the firing schedule.

 

I put the remainder of the broken bottle into a second firing. This time I used the Glass with a Past ‘flat bottle glass’ schedule. As you can see this was just enough to flatten the glass, without rounding edges. Some pieces are not entirely flat. With a bit of a tweak (either holding longer or higher temp?) this is probably a good ‘flattening’schedule to avoid overfiring the glass and to keep it thin.

  

Schedule used (courtesy of glass with a past)

149/hr to 260C for 10 mins

260/hr to 727C for 8 mins

FULL to 571C for 20mins

END

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.