Monday, September 5, 2011

Jelly Beans from Leftovers

I've got lots of scrap glass.  It is taking over the limited work area I have.  Without weighing it, I'd guess there are at least 25 pounds of small scrap pieces.  When I cut a piece of glass I throw the cut offs that are irregular in shape or too small to store upright in old buckets.  I now have about 3 of these.  I think the buckets are from old ice cream containers from when the kids were little.  See - I never through "useful" things out.  They probably held two or three gallons of ice cream and have nice lids and handles.  Full of scrap they are in the ten pounds of glass range.

In a bit of a clean up mode a few weeks ago as I was packing up stuff to take with me to Corning.  I couldn't just throw all that scrap away.  The biggest bucket is of Spectrum 96 glass.  I'd built this very wonderful strip cutting machine which I blogged about previously.  I tried a few scraps and cut a bunch of half inch squares.  I got on a roll and had about a hundred in a few minutes.  Now what to do with them?  Well, glass wants to be 1/4" and round by its nature.  That spurred a thought.  Lay out the squares on a kiln shelf and get 'em hot.  One round 12" kiln shelf holds about three hundred squares.    

After several rounds of firing I had a small bag of these beans weighing about three pounds.  I did take pictures of them laying on a shelf - but my stupid camera phone munged the pictures.  I fired hot and fast and ran about four batches.  I ended up with a bag of glass jelly beans.  Square shapes make nice rounded half-domes.  Irregular shapes are interesting as well. Now I had to do something with them.  Here is a picture of some of the raw beans.

I have some nice fusing rings that fit in my small kiln.  I used a 10" ring here.  I found out in the first run that you really need to make sure to pack the beans so that they touch other beans in a couple of places.  Otherwise you'll get a few beans that aren't stuck together.  Here are pictures of the beans packed in the ring and a close up.

After fusing it comes out as a plate with lots of holes - very lacy effect.  Note that this version has two beans that didn't fuse.  There is one on the outer edge at the two o'clock position.  The other is harder to spot.

Final step was to slump the plate into a bowl.  I have a wonderful mold that fits my baby kiln.  I slumped it nicely but when opened the kiln you can see that the mold had CRACKED.  I don't like that, but the glass was fine - very strange.  Very costly.  

 This is a nice low bowl - not sure what I'll do with it, but it is much nicer as a present for someone rather than throwing it into the landfill.  From the top you can't see much, but from the side its rather nice.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Corning Workshop with Josh Simpson and Gabriele Kuestner - results

I spent the last two weeks in Corning, New York in a workshop with Josh Simpson and Gabriele K├╝stner at the "Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass".  The workshop was entitled "Mosaic Glass" which is pretty open ended.  Here is the course description - "Students will begin by pulling their own canes, fusing glass mosaic plate and bowl forms, and doing pick-ups in the hot shop.  Students will then integrate typical Venetian style surface treatments, such as battuto, incisi, and velato, with work made during the first week. Cold-working equipment, including diamond and stone wheels, horizontal flat mills, belt sanders, and sandblasters will be used."

This really was two different workshops in one two week session.  Josh focused on creating various complex canes which can be further combined into even more complex canes or cut into murrine.  These would then be used in fusing projects or as rollups in the hot shop.

Gabi's portion was two-fold.  First, she introduced us to a technique of using China paints on clear cane and then fusing that into various forms.  Second, she showed us various surface treatments.

So enough of the background - here is what I made.  I'm not going to post pictures of the 50+ pounds of cane that I made but of a few of the finished pieces.

First, here is the plate I made using the cane painting technique.  It is about 10" by 12" in size and half an inch thick.  This is the view from the top.

And here is a side view giving a more realistic perspective.

Here is a simple plate I made from some simple canes I made the first day.  This one reminds me of a 1950's TV Dinner tray I remember from my childhood!

Here is a simple vase (about 8" tall) that I made way back in 2004.  There were some surface defects so it never was as nice as it could be.  I used this piece as a test of some of the cold working techniques that Gabi demonstrated.  It turned out quite well, but it was a great deal of work - cold working is a time consuming activity.

Finally, here is a simple slumped bowl that I made out of some Bullseye cane.  It is quite small - only about 6" across and less than 2" high.  Quite delicate and the lip/edge really sets this off.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Well - I guess I lied...

I thought I'd get a chance to post some more during the late winter, early spring, and now the first half of the summer.  For those that follow this blog, you probably are wondering where I've been.

Well, sometimes work and life get in the way of avocations.  Glass is not my profession, day job, or anything else.  Glass is what I do to get away from all those other things.  Unfortunately those have taken precedence over glass work.

I have about 3 or 4 posts in the works which just need some photos to make them complete.  This time it really is true.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm Back!

It was before Halloween 2010 the last time I posted.  Not that I don't have a lot to say.  Well, maybe I don't after all.  I'm been extremely busy during the fall and winter.  And I've just been in the glass doldrums for a while.  I suspect that the extremely cold weather has had a bunch to do with that.  

It's been a very cold winter here in Michigan.  I think there were very long periods to time when the high for the day was about 10 to 15 degrees Farenheit.  My sheet glass and tools are in the garage.  Way too cold to even stand there for five minutes.  My pole barn (my workshop) which has the coldworking tools is heated, but I keep in down low to probably 45 degrees most of the time.  This prevents things from freezing and water from condensing and rusting onto the surfaces of equipment like table saws.  I can turn it up and it'll get quite comfortable in about 30 minutes, but walking out there and starting work just didn't seem like fun.

I'm getting ready for spring.  And starting to think about glass again.  I've sold a lot of pieces at the gallery in Lansing and that is nice to get a check every month for a couple of pieces or so.  I need to gear up for glass.  I haven't blown glass since November and am looking forward to it some more.  

I'm always on the look out for new tools.  I find them in the strangest places.  I found this one last summer in the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond store.  

You are probably asking - what is the "tool" that idiot is blathering about.  Well, its the "Baking Mat".  It's a baking sheet made of silicone.  It is meant to line a cookie sheet and prevents baked items from sticking or burning.  If it can stand 450+ degree temperature then it should be pretty durable.  I can't remember the dimensions but it is a "Full Sheet" size, 17" x 34" or thereabouts.  

I found that clay doesn't stick, wax doesn't stick, and it cleans up very easy.  I've actually poured hot wax directly on the sheet.  I built dams from clay, and then poured the hot wax directly into the dammed area.  Once cooled it was completely flat and perfect.  Peeling off the clay dams was easy and then the wax model just popped off.  No fuss, no muss.  

One more silicone item I picked up was a mini-muffin mold.  I didn't get the full size muffin mold but that will be a future acquisition.  The mini-muffin mold makes a dozen small muffins.  I just pour leftover wax into the mold, let cool, and then pop out discs of wax.  These can be easily stored and re-melted in the future.  You can see one of the wax muffins off to the right side of the mat in the picture.