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Friday, July 4, 2014

Glass Studio

Yesterday I cleaned up the entire (almost) glass studio and thought this would be a good time to take some pictures. First I want to show you my constant pesky companions. Both boys delight in jumping up on whatever I'm working on, tail in my face. On the left is Biscotti, and on the right is his brother Prancer Dancer. It's hard to tell them apart unless you're their mommy. After that you'll see the studio as it will never look for at least another year when I get around to cleaning it again.

Also blogspot has its own mind with the pictures so if they are oddly positioned on the page, they didn't start that way.
Prancer Dancer
The table he's sitting on is a very nice oak table
I bought from a fellow on the street. The top was
marred so mosaicing it with Mexican tiles
worked out very well.

Usually I stand at this table but sometimes I'll sit on the
mosaiced kitty stool. 


This is the view looking in the front  door. There is also
another door in the back. The grinders and ring saws
are outside. I need a bigger studio.

Ipod, and storage for glass and molds.
I need more of these nice cubbies
my handyman made for me.
Non-fusible glass. I do my best to keep them separate
but since mosaics need small pieces,
I often bring them out here to cut on the Beetle Bits system.

My Paragon Caldera kiln on the left and the Paragon
Trio on the right. I have a Paragon Fusion 16 on
order! Since I only have juice enough for two
kilns, I'll move the small one into another area.

Beetle Bits system. It may not be called exactly that but I couldn't
do without it. 

Right side in closet. The molds on the
lower shelf are too big for the other holders. 
Left side of the closet. I buy these white glass holders
at Michaels. They are perfect for holding and making the glass
easy to see. 

An iridized glass plate right out of the kiln this morning. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 Magless Exchange

For my mosaic friends, this probably won't be an interesting post but once again it details how inept I seem to be at times. And I have only been doing fused glass in earnest for a few months. There is a great difference between doing a mosaic and doing something in fused glass. With the mosaic, you see results right away. You can move pieces, change colors, add bling, etc. and you see right away how it looks. With fused glass you come up with what you think is a good idea and you think you've done everything right, but you don't get to see your results until the next morning. It's a much longer process and therefore it takes a longer timeframe in which to make all the mistakes. And mistakes I have made!!!! But this is part of the learning process so I'm enjoying it very much.

This is my first Magless venture. For those of you who have never heard of it, it is an exchange of fused glass pieces without the actual magnet attached. This keeps shipping costs down and, I imagine, saves us money because not everyone will like the magnet we make. So after the sign up is finished, we need to make a enough maglesses for everyone. I was the last person to sign up and my number was 48. And we were asked to make an extra to raffle off for charity, so I made 49 magless.

Previous years' participants had written many interesting and informative things about their processes, and I read all of their notes. Three thoughts were repeated many times:


So in February when the final count was in for this year's magless group, I started to work on them. I decided I wanted to use up scrap glass, and I wanted to try working with custom color decals. I have long been into photography and have hundreds of images of my cats and so I decided to make a magnet with a kitty picture. (Surprise!)

I tried a different sizes, colors and configurations and had varying degrees of success. I started with this idea:

Base layer in color
Middle piece white or light color so the decals would show
Top it with a clear glass piece

But there were problems. The clear glass slid off the top, bubbles emerged, glass shifted, pieces stuck together and many of the colors weren't pleasing me. I experimented with tack fuse and full fuses and had more problems. So I decided to leave the clear layer off and that worked much better.

But, even without the clear glass top, I still had trouble with top pieces sliding. So I did tests using six different glues; Zuper Glue, No Days Liquid, Elmer's gel, hair spray sprayed on, hair spray - used a wand and placed a dot of liquid on the glass, and Glastec. They all held the first time I tried it. Hallelujah!  But that was just beginner's luck. In the next batch I must not have let all the glues dry, and some slide off again. Plus I still wasn't pleased with the colors and sizes.

I finally got the sliding under control. And I tried many different color combinations and finally came up with colors I was pretty happy with. I liked the look of the tack fuse so I began making 48 maglesses in this configuration.

1.75" base color
1.25" white layer

On the decal issue, after reading a previous year's person's note about Micro-Mark fusing paper which would keep the color rather than just fusing into sepia I decided to try that approach. A package came with 10 sheets that I could print on my color laser printer so I could make some mistakes and still have sheets left.

First I had to create a printable sheet that had the right size pictures. So a made a sheet with 80 pictures about 1" each. And first I thought I'd just do Boots. But then I thought I should mix it up a bit so I made the same size sheet with several different pictures of my kitties. I printed them out on my laser printer using the decal paper. This worked but the images weren't very bright. They were much more colorful when just printed on some type of photo paper.
Boots and More

Meanwhile I made 50 fused glass "blanks", color in the back and some form of white/beige on the top. And I decided to go with the bright images. I cut out all the pictures and used Martha Stewart’s decoupage to attach the bright, colorful photos to the glass. This worked well. They are sealed and permanent with a nice gloss.

Then I signed them all on the back, put each one in a snack-sized plastic bag, attached a sticker, wrote my number 48 on the front and mailed them off to the magless coordinator, Jennifer! Thank you, Jennifer, for all your work on this project.

I learned so much making these pieces, and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

OMG! Where have I been?

I'm still here but it seems I'm too busy to update my blog. And so many things have happened since my last post. So I'll update in chronological order so I don't miss too much.

In November I attended a wonderful and wonderfully creative class taught by the master mosaicist  Laurel Skye. The class was in the Los Angeles area, and the teaching was great but the venue was not very conducive to working. We were in a cluttered garage with too many people, and it was almost impossible to skirt the other artists and get to the table with supplies and things to buy for our creations. Of course, I elbowed my way through and bought some lovely lavender jeweled ribbons and tiles for my rug. Here we are with our mosaics at the end of the two-day class. I didn't quite finish but I have done so now. Below is the finished piece.

We used a technique I'd read about but never tried. We took mastic and colored it black. Then we used that as our adhesive and "grout" since it would be pretty hard to grout these pieces after they were finished.

Here is my piece on the first day. The hand was made in polymer clay in Laurie Mika's class in Santa Barbara. And you can see the beautiful purple and lavender ribbons that were for sale. Below is the finished piece. I think it turned out really well.

I sat next to a really funny person named Robin and promised her I'd let her know when I put this on my blog. Well, it took four months. She isn't in the picture unfortunately but she really added to the happy atmosphere of the workshop.

 I should also mention that I have started doing fused glass, bought another kiln and have been having a wonderful time trying to make things. The two things I have found relatively easy to make (although I have many stories of those that didn't for one reason or another) are swizzle sticks and slumped bottles. The swizzles on the left all have cat designs, and the one below is a set I made for a friend's birthday. She has always loved swizzle sticks and has a large collection. I made it in colors she loves and put the "O" on for her last name.

So I will stop for now but will go through my calendar and make sure I don't miss any of the great mosaic events that have happened.

See you all again very soon!