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Glass Artist Tips & Tricks Archive

Glass Archive Organized by month.
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November 2010 / December 2010

March 31, 2007

Glass Compatibility Testing - The Base Glass Test

This compatibility test builds on the one that we talked about on the 29th which was the polarized lens test. Check the Glass Artist Tips and Tricks Archive for more information on the polarized lens test.

So how does the base glass test work? First off you need a clear piece of glass that is several inches lon and 1 1/2" in width. This piece is our "base" glass and will be used as our control. Thus with our control piece we will be able to test all our other glass pieces.

Now cut all the pieces you want to test into small squares. Make sure you cut a square from the "base glass" for reference. Place all you test pieces one inch apart on the clear glass. Flat fuse the pieces together.

After firing all you need to do now is to place the glass between your polarized film and look for how much halo appears around the test squares. The less light there is the more compatible your glass is.

March 29, 2007

Compatibility Testing - Polarized Lens Test

Another way of testing fused glass for compatibility is to use the Polarized lens test. Think of it as using light to figure out if your glass is incompatible. First off you need to get to polarized lenses (2 pieces of polarized film will do). You can buy polarized film from a glass supplier. Next fuse the together the warm glass you will be testing.

Once fused put the glass between the two pieces of polarized film and hold it over a light source. When you are holding all three pieces over a light source make sure to rotate the lenses/film so they are at right angles to each other. Now make sure that as little light shines through as humanely possible. Or inhumanely possible if you happen to be an interstellar glass artist.

Now all you have to do is look for a white glow at the edges of where the different glasses come together. If there is little or no glow than your fused glass is compatible. If there is a significant amount of glow than "Houston we have a problem". The more light glowing around the edges means the greater the incompatibility.

March 28, 2007

One way of testing warm glass compatibility is the Freezer test. In my opinion this test is one of the easiest to administer and is a general test for stress. It's simple. Step 1: Fuse your different glasses together. Step 2: Place in freezer. Step 3: If it doesn't crack after returning to room temperature than your good to go.

March 26, 2007

Everyone is always talking about COE and how it is important that the glass you use together is compatible. But how are you to know if your glass is compatible? Test it.

There are four main ways to test glass compatibility. These include:

  • Base glass test
  • Freezer Test
  • Polarized lens test
  • Thread pull test

Over the next four days we will talk about glass compatibility testing and how to administer these tests.

March 25, 2007

So your tired of using kiln wash for your fused glass art? Then switch to Fiber paper. Fiber paper is made of very fine alumina and silica threads that have been bound together. One of the benefits of the paper is that it can be cut to the desired shape of your piece so you don't have extra waste.

After firing you should wash off any residual fiber paper from your warm glass in a container of water. This helps keep loose fibers out of the open air which can be harmful to your lungs.

March 23, 2007

Today's fused and blown glass tip is brought to you by the letter O. You can't spell "organization" without the letter O!

Today well be talking about organization. I know, I know, an artists worst enemy but still a necessity. As we've mentioned before glass compatibility is very important thus you need to make sure not to get different glass types mixed up. In our studio we keep this from happening by designating on side of it for blown glass supplies and another side for fused. This is really a big help. Also you can make sure that your different COE glass doesn't get mixed up by marking them with color coded dots (stickers you can purchase from any office supply store). A sharpie marker also works very well when it comes to labeling the COE of your glass and takes away the risk of the sticker falling off.

March 22, 2007

If your looking to create a matte surface or matt design on your glass art than try sandblasting it. Sandblasting is the use of compressed air to project an abrasive material at the surface of the glass. Not only can you create a matt finish on your work but you can also create a deeply abraded surface.

March 21, 2007

Today's glass tip is brought to you by the letter C. Remember, you can't spell Cased Glass without the letter C!

As we all know or may not know Cased Glass is blown glass with two different colors combined in layers. One of the colors forms a skin around the other. With this in mind just think of the creative possibilities of cased glass, like sandblasting or acid-etching to remove the top layer and revealing the color below.

March 20, 2007

Being a glass artist can be expensive. As they say all artists must suffer for their work but that doesn’t mean your wallet has to also. So to help alleviate that pinch on your wallet today well teach you how to make your own kiln wash.

As you know kiln wash is used to prevent glass from sticking to the kiln shelf or mold. This is a good thing because you never want to hack away at your kiln shelf to get your glass out of the kiln. That being said how do you make kiln wash?

First go to a pottery supplier either online or *gasp* in real life and buy some kaolin and alumina hydrate. Make sure you wash your hands immediately after using. Now before mixing make sure you are wearing a respirator and gloves. Next mix the kaolin and alumina hydrate together and then add four to six parts water until you reach the desired consistency. All you have to do now is either brush or spray lightly on your kiln shelf or mold. Lastly it is very important that you allow the kiln wash to dry thoroughly before firing.

March 19, 2007

Making your own glass supplies - How to make your own glass frit: The Kiln method

This method of making glass frit is simple and straightforward. Wrap your glass in aluminum foil and place it in your kiln. Heat your glass in the kiln for about an hour at 400° F / 200° C. After about an hour all you have to do is take it out of the kiln and immediately place it into cold water. Remember to always take proper precautions when handling glass. Even though the glass is wrapped in foil make sure you are wearing eye and hand protection.

March 13, 2007

Last time we talked about how to make your own glass frit using the pipe crushing method. Today we will take it one step further and make it even simpler for you to make your own fused glass materials.

Make frit using the hammer method! I know it sounds complicated but don't worry...Just place your glass in either a sealed plastic bag or between a bunch of newspaper and pound away. Before you begin playing the role of Bam Bam with your glass make sure that you are wearing eye protection and a mask.

March 5, 2007

How do I make my own glass frit? Since frit is nothing more than small pieces of glass it really isn't that hard. One way to make your own frit is to use the pipe-crushing method. What materials will you need for the pipe-crushing technique? 1. Two hollow pipes. One slightly larger than the other. 2. Eye protection. 3. A mask or respirator. 4. A magnet. 5. Rocks (A really hard material to find!).

After you have gathered your materials begin by filling the smaller pipe with the rocks and then close off the other side. Now place your larger pipe on the ground and fill it half way with glass. Next make sure you are wearing eye protection and a mask or respirator to protect yourself from silica dust. Begin by sliding the smaller pipe into the larger one. Now all you have to do is let gravity do the work. Repeatedly drop the smaller and heavier pipe into the larger one until the glass is at the desired size. Finally grab your magnet. What's the magnet for? This is to extract any metal chips that might have broken off from the pipes into the glass frit. Presto! Homemade glass frit.

March 4, 2007

So to continue our discussion on COE we should look at what happens to glass when it is placed in the kiln and heated.

So we all know things expand when they get hot and contract when they cool, and if you didn't know, then now you do. Therefore when glass is heated it will expand and conversely when cooled it will contract. This change of density is on the molecular level and can be measured in a laboratory. No eyeballing it...Thus we commonly call the measure of how much glass contracts or expands for a given temperature rate the Coefficient of Expansion.

March 2, 2007

In the fused glass world opposites do not attract! Right now there are only four companies that are manufacturing glass that is pre-tested for compatibility. These companies are Spectrum Glass, Bullseye Glass, Wasser Glass, and Uroboros Glass. Be aware that there are two different COE lines of glass and they do not play well together. These are COE 90 and COE 96. What does COE mean? COE means the coefficient of expansion. If you don't use the same COE glass in your artwork than it can shatter or crack when it cools. This can even happen up to a year later!

March 1, 2007

So how can I use dichroic glass in my warm glass artwork to really mesmerize the viewer? By firing dichro/clear with the coated side down you can create the perception of depth in your kiln formed glass art. This is because the viewer is actually looking thro


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