Friday, March 4, 2011

From this
to this:

and this 

to this:

I got back my plate and ring bowl after their final firing in the kiln.  As I mentioned in my previous post on fused glass, it takes two firings to end up with your finished product.  One to fuse the glass and one to slump the fused glass into the shape of the mold.  The two pieces above, were the results of my Beginner's class in Fused Glass with Marie-Josee Girard, a Glass Artist from Georgetown, Ontario, Canada.

Last weekend I took her Intermediate class in Fused Glass.  In this class we expanded our techniques to include mosaics, cutting circles with a circle cutter to make bowls, and working with molten glass to make our own curls and shapes for our pieces.  Unfortunately you can't manipulate glass and take pictures at the same time so you'll have to rely on my descriptions only for this part.  It was a fantastic two day class held once again at Artifacts Plus, in Petrolia, ON.

Marie, in black, is busy cutting bases for us to work on, while Carolyn, the owner of the store, is working on her own project for this class.

For my bowl, I chose to use some of the glass I manipulated from its molten state and some that I had cut very small using mosaic cutters (this was before I realized that we were going to be doing mosaics as part of our next design).

The base of my bowl was a clear circle and I placed a white circle of the same dimensions on top.  The next step was to create my design.  I had decided upon vines and pink blossoms with darker centres.  I had originally wanted a black bowl but there wasn't a way to make my vines with a colour of glass that would show up on black when fused so I had to change to white.  I could have made a clear bowl but small bubbles show up more clearly (no pun intended in the clear glass and that was not the effect that I wanted).  That left me with white, since for the purpose of this class, those were the three choices we were given.

To manipulate the molten glass, Marie first prepared a clay plant pot by putting some fibre board into the bottom and then filling the pot with scraps of green and white glass, separated by a piece of clear glass.  The fibre at the bottom covered the hole but would allow the molten glass to run out of the kiln when it reached the right consistency.  The piece of clear glass would keep the two colours separate while they were melting.

The kiln was placed on scaffolding that was about seven feet high.  Marie kept track of the time and the temperature and when everything was right, she called us to the back room, donned leather gauntlets, safety glasses and armed herself with pliers and side cutters.  She then began to pull and twist the red, molten glass as it came out from the bottom of the kiln.  She would cut off pieces before they had cooled too much.  As the glass cooled, it turned darker, but it would be a while before we actually knew the exact colour of the glass.

Occasionally, a lump of glass would seem to gather speed and move quickly towards the floor.  It would thin out and leave a straight thin strand behind it.  With the pliers, we would bend and curl and loop the glass upon itself, trying to remember that it was leaving the kiln at 1500 .  There was a small window for manipulation.  My problem was my bifocals.  With the added difficult of using them through safety glasses, I had difficulty wielding the pliers and cutters.  My depth perception was off and I couldn't seem to get the pliers around the glass.  I so wanted to grab the glass with my gloves and bend and twist.  I just couldn't get close enough to see properly.  I did get some curves and curls that I was able to use later. 

No scraps go to waste.  Everything can be saved and used up later or pounded down to make your own fritz (which is a powder or crystal that is used in decoration).  At any rate, the curves and curls that I made became my vines in my plate design.

You can see the thin curved strands that make up the vines and the small, irregular, opaque pink and transparent plum pieces that make up the blossoms.  These are tacked to the white base with a gel glue. and then put into the kiln for the first firing to be fused.

You can see that the irregular pieces have softened and the shapes look more blossom like.  The curved pieces that were three dimensional, softened also and became thicker.

The next step is for this piece to be place on the mold and to be slumped into the shape of the bowl.  My hope is that most of the pattern will be around the side of the bowl with a bit starting in the centre and running to the upper edge.  You really can't tell until the firing is complete.

Here is the raw state of my small mosaic project.  This will be a small plate.
The extra spaces are filled with clear glass.

The next picture is the raw state of my 9"x9" plate.  It is a white base with a clear top which should give depth to the finished design.  I've used glass confetti to make my leaves which should give a lacy, transparent effect (I hope).

If you notice the small, green cabochons on the stems.  They originally looked like the picture below before they were lightly fired so that they would round at the edges.  The tool shown is the mosaic cutter.

My green circles are those pale, green shards of glass.  Amazing, isn't it?

Enough for now.
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