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….

So, collection of the kiln is imminent, so the question of where to put it ! I have started to clear out an outhouse. Hubby has helped to replace the ceiling in it and add roof insulation and it is turning from a junk store into some sort of studio. Luckily it already has electrics. I’m not sure it will be ready for when the kiln arrives , but at least we have a plan. The pictures show the early stages of what we are working with. From what I have read, important issues are to be able to plug the kiln straight into the socket with NO extension leads being used and to have a good clearance (30cm at least) around the kiln. It needs to be sited on a flat surface and away from kids. The outhouse has an ideal socket right next to the electrical circuit box but it is sited near the door, so on consideration, that actually seemed the craziest place to site the kiln – right where people would come into the studio!  The HobbyFuser3 manual gives some of the main tips.  I’m trying to start pretty uncluttered , so I have ordered a lino so I can keep the floor clean, and I have an old table lined up for my cutting table. I’ll obviously need some storage as we go along, but my only other ‘wish’ is to get a sink into the studio. I think this will be useful , if only from a health and safety angle and for making cups of tea 🙂

Hence, although I had deliberated, should I start with Float, System 96 or Bullseye Glass (the main options for glass fusing), the fact that my kiln seller also had a bundle of glass to sell meant I would be starting out with Bullseye. It was a relief to have this decision made as I knew that different glasses DON’T mix (see Creative Glass Guild explanation). In order to prevent cracking and losing the integrity of your piece, the glasses being fused together must be tested as being ‘compatible’ (or it all gets very complicated to test this yourself) or you can only fuse one piece of glass with itself (e.g. a wine bottle – see Glass with a Past). Bullseye and System 97 and some Float Glass suppliers guarantee this compatability and that the glass they sell can be safely fused together.

I had found the following suppliers in the UK:

Bullseye Glass – Warm Glass UK and Glass Studio Supplies

System 96 – Creative Glass Guild and System 96

Float Glass – Creative Glass Guild and Pearsons Glass (supplies all types of glass)

 

And so, I start with nothing…… check out the Info Topics section for the list of equipment I accumulate as we go along. I watched these useful free videos from Bullseye Education and made a note of the equipment being used in these.

As for kiln choice, I found Warm Glass UK useful, for their sheer diversity of kilns and descriptions and videos. I figured if the kiln was being sold on this website that it had a certain credibility and spares and servicing in the UK would pose no problem. I then searched eBay and Facebook Marketplace for kilns for sale. I also googled for kilns and found several websites  that advertised second hand / refurb kilns either on their websites or facebook pages (e.g. Kilncare , Northern Kilns). Although I had also read that ceramic kilns could be used to fuse glass (cheaper option judging by eBay) , I decided to go for a plug in ‘starter kiln’ and eyed up the HobbyFuser and the Skutt Firebox 14. Given my inexperience I thought it wise to start with a recognised, common, hobby glass fusing kiln.  Also, given I hadn’t yet decided on the location of the kiln, a plug-in again seemed most flexible whilst I sorted out my space. I set up a saved search with email notifications for eBay and set up a notification on Facebook Marketplace for kilns. Then I watched and waited……

Thanks to Facebook, I am now due to collect a HobbyFuser 3 along with a selection of Bullseye Glass and some basic equipment within the next week or so.

I am based in the UK and am completely new to glass fusing (and also to creating websites!) and so here begins my journey. I am a researcher by trade and so as I began to research fusing, it struck me that I needed to collate all this info somewhere. There’s so much to learn, read and ask. What do I need?, what can I do?, how do I navigate through firing schedules and keep good logs of both my successes and failures!? Well, I’ve decided to put it all here for you all to see, (and for me to refer back to). This isn’t a blog of ‘how to do glass fusing’ but more a ‘learn by mistakes’ approach, until I hope I reach a level of competence and knowledge in the art of glass fusing. Feel free to join me on my way through the bubbles and cracks of my attempts at creating fused glass……..