Getting Started – First Kiln Firing (with Bullseye)

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.

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