Puddle Melting

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I've just completed four firings in 3 days, and two of those firings were to create some awesome puddle melt pendants.  Every time a firing is finished, I'm stoked to open up the kiln, but this last run was especially cool because I really didn't know what I'd find.

 

Step 1:  Making the Puddles

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First step was to make the puddles that would later be broken up to make the pendants (and other things - I have reserve puddle chunks for another day!).  I stacked up 6 3"x3" squares of glass, and put them in the kiln.  I made two piles, one with blues/green/white/grey, and another with pinks/purples/white.  I put them in the kiln on top of some shelf paper, and left plenty of room around them so they could spread out.  

 

When the glass is fired, it spreads out - the photo above shows the bottom of the resulting puddle - each layer flowed over the edge of the one below.  Size of the final puddle was about 5"x5" and 7/16" thick in the middle.  I used a full fuse firing schedule, holding at 1500F for 30 minutes.  This fire took about 6 hours.

Step 2:  Puddle Smash

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To turn the puddles into usable chunks, they need broken up.  I tried score-and-snap, but it was way too thick for that.  I read people had luck scoring and hitting with a hammer, but for me that didn't break nicely and just shattered the puddle into 8-10 pieces.  That was fine though since it gave chunks I could start working with - but wouldn't be optimal if I was trying to get a lot of nice slices. 

 
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I also ran the pink square thru the Taurus ring-saw, and the saw cut it like a champ.  But I don't want to use up my blade on these, so I probably won't try that again.  We do have a tile saw so I think I'll give that a go on some of the leftover puddle chunks.  

Anyways.  Use a hammer to break, or then I found that my mosaic tile-nippers worked well to break off the pieces for the pendants.  Whatever you do, wear your safety glasses!

I made a bunch of smallish pieces to fire as pendants.  It was hard to tell from the chunks how big the pendants would be so I weighed them as I broke them off - tried to aim for 6-15 grams in weight to get a variety of sizes.  I think I broke up about half of each puddle and I have other plans for the rest.

 

Step 3:  Second Firing

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I put shelf paper on the bottom of the kiln, and on top of that, placed the chunks up on end (so the stripes are visible from above, and fired again to a full fuse.  I wasn't sure how close to place them to each other so I left some space around them. 

Over on the left-hand side, I tried some other ideas with pieces of sheet glass topped off with dots or some of the skinny shards that came off the puddles when I was smashing them up.

 

I read on someone's page that it would be better to use shelf primer instead of paper since they'd round better - but I wanted to make max use of my kiln space and just put paper directly on the kiln floor (my shelf is a smaller area so I could only have made about 2/3 of this number).  And I like the irregular shapes!

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The above 2 pictures were taken before pulling these out of the kiln so I can see how the different pieces melted - it was about like you'd expect, if the piece was on an angle then the top color is the primary one in the final pendant.  I might add decals to the ones that are more solid colored than the others.

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This was a fun project and I'm really happy with the results!  A couple of links that I referenced for making these are below:

And of course the possibilities are endless here - these will be necklaces or I think I'll try turning a couple of the smaller ones into pairs of earrings.  You could also use them in mosaics, stained glass, etc.  And I plan to make some more even slices out of the rest of my puddles to use in a plate project.

First Fused Glass Projects

I learned to make stained glass by taking a class, but I'm figuring out the basics of fusing glass on my own with books and websites.  I'd like to take a class at some point, but for now I think there's enough info out there to pick up the basics.

Project 1:  Square Pendants

After getting the kiln and new controller board all hooked up, I thought I'd start with something simple to make sure everything worked.  I have a "offset square pendant mold" that I got as a birthday present, and had bought 5 colors of frit to try.  I had bought fine frit almost at random for the colors and also had gotten a jar of medium clear frit.  I guess I didn't read up ahead of time to see that the firing schedules for the different grits are different, and so I'm assuming they shouldn't be mixed in the same piece?  Something to look into...

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I followed the mold instructions, and applied 4 coats of Primo Primer, drying it with a hairdryer between each coat.  I definitely mixed up too much primer, so will use less next time (can you save it once it's mixed??).  This must have worked, because after firing, one of the pendants came right out, the second came out when I turned it upside down, and the last just needed a nudge from my fingernail to pop out.  

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I had a few colors of frit, and wanted to try all of them to see their fired colors - Kevin made the blue striped pendant and I made the other two.  We finished up the mold prep and pouring in the frit around 7pm on a Sunday evening.  We were feeling paranoid about leaving the kiln on its own in the basement, so one of us sat with it for the first couple of hours.  When it became clear that it wasn't going to spontaneously combust, and that the temperature around the kiln wasn't getting very high, we progressed to hourly check-ins (I started napping on the couch in between!).  Max temperature for this fire was 1420F, and I found that the hottest the surface of the kiln got was around 320F.

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I waited until the next morning to open her up, here is what I found!  This was basically the easiest project that could be done - pour frit in mold, turn on kiln - but it was still really fun to open up the kiln and find pretty pendants.  Will try some more exciting designs next time!

 
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After I popped them out of the mold, they did need a little sanding to remove some rough edges, then I strung them on lanyards and have worn two of them.  Will be fun to try this mold again with some different colors and designs.

 

Project 2:  Coasters

For second project, I wanted something more creative, so I made four different 3" square coasters.  I tried a few different ideas just to see how they looked after.  

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Glass wants to be about 1/4" thick, and my sheet glass is closer to 1/8".  If I'd made my coasters one layer thick, then the glass would pull in and "shrink" to make the a thicker piece.  I wanted this to stay truer to size, so for the sailboat coaster, I cut two blue squares and then put the decoration pieces on top.  The bottom square is slightly smaller than the top, so the glass will flow over the sides and make a nice rounded edge.

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The only other one that was 2 pieces thick all the way around is the transparent green/yellow/blue wavy lines - the lines are all cut and put on top of a clear square.  The hearts were just put on one square of white (should have used 2 since the edges did indeed pull in), and then the vertical stripes were also placed on a single white square.  These are mostly cut glass, with some stringers and then the inner part of the dark blue heart is frit.  I did use Bullsye glasstac to hold the pieces in place for transfer to the kiln and then for firing.

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Final results above!  I'm happy with how they came out and that I got to see how the different glass and ideas looked after firing, but I'd make a few changes next time.  

1.  I'd make everything at least 2 layers thick.

2. The wavy lines one - the lines are a little separated if you look closely.  After making it, I learned I should have had the clear glass as the top layer to have everything flow together.

3.  There is still some sharpie residue from where I outlined the pieces to cut :(  Thought I did a good job cleaning the glass but will try harder next time.

4. Vertical lines one - A tip from the woman that runs the glass shop I go to - since I wanted more separation between them, I could have put clear frit in between the lines to give more separation.

I think that's it!  Oh, and for these I used a full fuse schedule and it is indeed a full fuse - the sailboat is at the same level as the blue glass post-fire!