Fused Glass from Tropics of Costa Rica

Process

Fusing with Frit

 

rpp57-58-purple-chip-and-salsaI’ve been working on a new series of chipbowls and salsa dishes, using window glass which is (usually, almost) free around here, left over at construction sites – Thank-you, Kristina.

People have been curious about the process so here is what I do.   I like the philosophy of recycling glass but the material is not as forgiving as System 96 glass which is made specifically for fusing.  The learning curve has been steep.

1-mixingAfter cutting the ¼” thick glass to the size I want, I mix up a paste of glass frit powder with an organic fusible gel.

The paste is spread across the glass and left to air dry in the sun.

3-drawingThen, with a soft pencil, I draw a design on the dry glass powder.

4-cuttingThe design is carved away with a drummel tool.

6 fill spaces.JPGThe negative spaces are then refilled with a different color of glass powder.

7 ready to fuse.JPGWhen the design is complete, the piece is fired at full fuse (1535F for float glass).

pp28-yellow-blue-dragonfly-salsa-dishBefore molding the piece in a second or third kiln firing, the edges are hand sanded with 80 and 220 grit.

rpp53-yellow-orange-powder-dishAll in all, it takes me nearly a week to finish a piece.

I’ve also been using fusible System 96 glass as well, which is more expensive but produces more consistent results.

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Bottle Bird plates

costa rica birds
costa rica birds

Keel-billed Toucan

By now, everyone on the planet has seen the ubiquitous slumped bottle/cheese plate.

costa rica birds

Ringed Kingfisher

I’ve added a Costa Rican tropical bird to each one, most of which I’ve seen here in Samara. (more…)


Send me your empty, your poured.

kiln operation

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After yesterday’s kiln repairs, these lichor bottles look just as I expected: bright, transparent, without spots and no cracking.  Now I’ll paint them with tropical birds that I see around my house.

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These are the ones I fired last week when the kiln wasn’t working properly: lots of devitrification (chalkiness), bubbles, exploded bubbles, and generally ugly.  I am so pleased to have figured out the problem.

Send me your empty, your poured.


Occam’s Razor, glass version

glass fusing costa rica

Occam’s Razor, is a problem solving principle surmised by a 14th century Franciscan monk as “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”  Or as Steve says it, “The simplest solution is almost always right”.

fused glass art costa rica

I have refined this in the glass studio to “When you don’t get the results you expect, do a paper test.” which really means “See if the kiln is working.”

glass fusing costa rica A little slip of paper tucked into the coils of each element will scorch and burn if the elements are getting hot.  Currently, the side wall elements are not heating up.  I’ve been cooking everything with only one lid element – for how long, I don’t know – creating huge temperature differentials within the glass and causing stress and cracking.

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I’m pretty hopeful that repairs today will solve many of my recent issues and frustrations.  Jodi at Glass With a Past had lots of great suggestions but I’m going with Occam’s Razor for now.  Wish me luck.