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Steider Studios.Prairie Star Designs. Fence Project

I love working with metal artist Tom Herrera of  Prairie Star Designs because his projects are always interesting and creative.  You can read about Tom’s process in creating this trellis and gate on his blog at Prairie Star Designs.  You’ll want to scroll down to May 6th, “Sanoe’s Trellis and Gate” to read about Tom’s process in this project, but you’ll enjoy his other posts too.

Steider Studios.1.Samples cut out

My process began with meeting Linda, Tom’s client and sorting out her ideas and color schemes.  She came to my studio sale and chose colors for sunsets and bodies of water as well as several reds for hearts.  She brought a photo of a sunset and we chose watery colors from my color bars and samples in my studio.

Steider Studos1.5.Yellow Samples Ready to Design

I always start with samples, for a client to choose from, so tried several combinations of yellow for my sunset background…and several shades of watery blues for the panels depicting water.

Steider Studios.2.Samples in Process

Three layers of sheet glass, topped with heavy doses of Bullseye’s powder colors in striations matching the sunset photo and my water sample that Linda had seen in my studio.   I drew lines through the watery panels to show movement.

Steider Studios.3.Test Panels set up in Kiln

The glass is dammed in my Paragon kiln with fiber paper between the samples to keep them separated.

Steider Studios.4.Red Panels fired in kiln

In addition to sunset and water, Linda wanted to incorporate hearts into her fence.  After she chose which red she liked best from my samples, I stacked and fired my three layer combination.  It was simpler for us to frame squares of glass with heart shaped cut outs in metal, rather than me cutting perfect hearts and tediously damming them in my kiln; then Tom having to bend metal around them to frame.

Steider Studios.5.Aqua Panels in Process

After seeing my samples, Linda chose to eliminate sunsets from her trellis gate so the red hearts would have serene watery blues on each side of each heart.

Steider Studios.5.Turquoise Panels Process

Linda liked the deepest aquamarine and turquoise combinations especially those with lines showing watery motion.  With Linda’s decisions made, I blew up my samples to Tom’s size specifications keeping my designs as accurate as possible.

Steider Studios.6.Final Panel in Kiln.Tom's Fence Project

Because I STILL have not repaired my larger Skutt kiln, I had to fire each set of panels separately which added time on my end of the project.  I was already behind schedule due to custom work prior to this project and too many spring shows.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Aqua Panel 1

We were all happy with the watery aqua panels, especially how they glow under sunlight.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Red Panel 1.jpg

The red absolutely shimmers!  I was annoyed that I had a couple specks of kiln brick dust but it landed where metal would cover it and was so small that when held up to the sun we couldn’t see it, so decided to not shoot for perfection.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Turquoise Panel 2.jpg

The darker turquoise panels also turned out gorgeous, especially when held up to the sun.

Steider Studios.Mock up for Tom's Gate

The final arrangement of panels and hearts.

Steider Studios.Prairie Star Designs. Fence Project

And once again, the finished project.  I love it!!  I want one!  Thanks Tom Herrera for your faith in my work.  It is a pleasure to work with you!

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One of my favorite stores, Artisan’s Jewelery and Gallery asked me for green earrings.  Anyone else might have made a dozen pair, but I wanted to explore as many design options as possible.

I pulled out all my Bullseye green sheet glass and only eliminated a couple of shades because they were so close in tone.  Next, I cut each green into two lengths:  a long dangle and a short dangle.  Normally I would make a wider variety of lengths, but I was exploring color combinations, not lengths.

I cut out six pair of each length from each color, taking a few days to get them all cut, cleaned and placed on my work bench.  I had a wonderful selection of opaque and translucent greens to play with.

Next I chose design options by auditioning different dichro patterns and colors on top of each sheet of green.

For my own entertainment I also cut lengths of patterned and textured dichroic glass to make earrings that I know will sell quickly.

In addition to squares of patterned and colorful dichroic glass I used frit balls, decals, and sliced cane for adornment.  When I had enough earrings to fill a kiln I fired them and continued making more.  I ended up with about twelve dozen pair.  A gross of green glass earrings!  Plus some dichroic and a couple of strays I picked up along the way.

 

I finished all the earrings in batches of one or two dozen, starting with those I liked best for Artisan’s (and friends who came up to purchase), cleaning up any rough edges and checking for quality control.

I then glued on findings to attach the earring wires.  I use E6000 and let it cure 48 hours, then clean off the excess glue with a razor blade.  Not a fun task, but as I tell students – the back should look as nice as the front.

The final step is choosing which colorful niobium ear wires go with each pair of earrings.  Or in some cases sterling silver.  I rarely use 14k anymore due to the cost, but I keep it on hand for those folks who prefer quality gold.

As soon as the last set of green earrings were finished, I pulled out all my other colors of sheet glass and cut earring lengths!  I’m excited to make earrings in all the shades of yellow, orange, purple, blue and red (in that order) that I have.  Also more dichroic earrings because I’m so drawn to shiny sparkle patterns and I have a new sheet to try!

Fall show season will be here soon, and I need to place all these finished earrings into my online shops; but for now I’m squeezing in every bit of garden time I can with my cameras and flowers while the sun is shining.  You can see my garden at An Artist’s Garden.

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Fall has Fallen……

October 9, 2011

……and I’m not ready!  Not ready to say goodbye to Summer; not ready to put away my garden; not ready to gear up for holiday shows; not ready for classes; and really not ready for cold, dark or dreary.  But alas, fall arrives every year before I’m ready, and I manage to hustle through it.  So, here we go….

My ‘Basic Kinlforming’ class will start in just a week at The Dalles Art Center.  I picked up colorful new glass at Bullseye a week ago for this class to play with.  To register call Carmen or Jennifer at 541.296.4759.  Returning students always welcome!

Holiday shows I’m participating in are the annual Soroptimist’s Artisan Shopping Extravaganza.  This year it’s on November 27th from 10am until 4pm inside The Gorge Room at the Best Western Hood River Inn.  I’ll have wall pocket vases, jewelry, miniature bowls, and more.  Hope you’ll come say hello & see my new work!

I wouldn’t miss the Small Works’ annual holiday show at Columbia Art Gallery in Hood River.  The show runs December 2 – 29 with an opening reception on Friday December 2nd from 6 to 8pm.  Small works of art that make wonderful gifts is what you’ll find at this temptational show (yes, a made up word and I like it!).

I signed up for a booth at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland next Feb 17 – 19!  I’m very excited about it and have new ideas for garden art that will be fun to make.  The sketches are done & I’ve begun work on the prototypes.  Plus I’ll have 3 days to buy plants, what a fun-filled opportunity!

In light of Steve Jobs passing, I must pay homage to those who inspired and mentored me.  Years ago I tracked down my high school art teacher to thank him for his role in my creative path.  If given an opportunity, don’t miss taking a class from these glass greats:

If you have’t already, take a moment to tell someone inspirational in your life how they helped you grow, enabled you, lit that creative spark or otherwise made a difference in your journey.

I haven’t said it in awhile & want you to know I’m humbled you read my words.  Especially knowing I can say it so much better visually.  In glass.  In color.  Playfully and joyfully.

The Glass Craft and Bead Expo hosts a trade show that delights the eye and can bankrupt your wallet.  I have wholesale accounts with many of the suppliers, so try to not overwhelm my credit card while checking out all the new tools and supplies.

I confess I did come home with a few new toys…mostly from His Glassworks.

You can take quick classes on the spot at some of the booths, most of which are free.

Or you can register for a hands on workshop and take home valuable information.  Plus samples that you make in class and tons of notes to duplicate the projects in your own studio.

I couldn’t teach my classes without the support of Paragon Kilns.

Nor could I conduct a class without the generous support of Bullseye Glass!

The wonderful team at Delphi gave my students a host of design accoutrements for our projects.

Last, but not least, my students wouldn’t be able to ‘finish’ their projects without the support of Glastar!  I truly appreciate the generous support of these companies.

When teaching, it’s difficult remembering to pick up my camera, so there are only a few shots of my classes.

Most of my photos are during lunch, or after class and definitely on the run!

My students this year, without exception were incredibly talented, intelligent and FUN!

Thank you for taking my classes, I hope you’ll keep in touch and remember I’m available for you anytime.

I’ve spent this week catching up on processing and shipping orders and just yesterday finished unpacking.  I love teaching on the road, but am always glad to be home.

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Good News, Bad News

October 23, 2010

Opening the kiln lid is like Christmas every morning.

I’ll start with the bad……

Fireborne Glass Gallery is closing its doors today.  I’ve shown there since 2001  and have always felt partial to it.  Cool little gallery downtown Portland.  I became good friends with the original owners, Lisa and Myrna and was the instigator who introduced the current owners, Becky and Len to the gallery when it was up for sale.  I thought Becky would be a fabulous gallery director/owner and I was right.  She’s sophisticated, charming, and always has a friendly smile for you.  I was thrilled when Becky and Len decided to buy it.  I’ll still see Becky because we’re friends and Oregon Glass Guild members, but I’ll sure miss Fireborne.

You know me, I can’t dwell on sad news for long….The GOOD news is I delivered almost five dozen bowls and miniatures to the Museum of Glass Store in Tacoma on Friday.  I received the order last month and worked hard to get it finished while also producing for my gallery show at The Dalles Art Center this month.  If you are near Tacoma or The Dalles, please go see all my beautiful iridescent new bowls!!

More sad news, we had to cancel Powderology at Blue Moon Glassworks in Austin.  Unfortunately not enough students signed up to make it happen.  I was looking forward to my first foray into Texas, but I’ll get there another time.  I’m sorry to disappoint those who had signed up.

Finishing with Good News, my classes in Portland and The Dalles were fun-filled, energetic and most importantly successful for the students!  Aquila Glass School hosted my Powderology class mid month where I had extraordinarily creative students.  What a great resource Aquila is!  My Basic Kiln-forming, 6 week introductory class at The Dalles Art Center will finish up at the end of the month and I’m pretty sure we have new converts to the world of glass.  Thank you both for hosting me, I had a wonderful time.

As an aside, my comparisons of Artfire and Zibbet are going very well.  In the evenings I’ve added small works like buttons and stars as time allows.  I’ve even sold a couple of things!  I’m learning more about SEO (search engine optimization) and tweaking both shops with each new page of information I read.  Do you have advice for selling on-line?  I’d love to hear it!

 

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Welcome to Palmer Alaska

Half Moon Creek is an amazing glass gallery, Bullseye Resource Center and studio.  The owner/partners treated me like a queen and lined up a full class of incredible students.  Four days together without a hitch or a glitch.  I adored each student and the tiles they produced were nothing short of inspirational.  I can’t stop thinking about my experience, it was one of those adventures that I’ll remember the rest of my life.  The land and the people.

After landing in Anchorage, we headed south along the shore.

I’ll try not to overload you with over 1000 photos that I took, but only a few to tantalize.  I arrived a day early and took a quick trip south of Anchorage to find glaciers, whales, bear, moose, eagles, and everything wild that I’d read about Alaska.

broken off glacier

I found a glacier just before going into the tunnel leading to Whittier.  Or a piece of one, broken off, I later learned.

Elk at Wildlife Refuge, south of Anchorage, Alaska

I found elk, bison, caribou, and moose at the wildlife refuge but never saw one in the wild.  Didn’t see any bears either.  I was really looking forward to seeing a bear.

I took hundreds of photos, but don’t want to spend my time processing & editing!

It rained and clouds settled in during my entire week there, with rare exceptions.  I didn’t care, I was THERE.  In Alaska!  I planned to experience every moment, in the moment from my class to the daily treks after class.  The sun only sets for a couple of hours in August, so I had all day to teach and all night to explore.

Morning of Museums around Palmer & Wasilla

We played tourist to the hilt, going to all the museums in Palmer & Wasilla before class began and generally exploring the area.

Summit Lake in Clouds

Hatcher Pass was so cloudy and rainy we couldn’t see Summit Lake just beyond the wildflowers!  Can you see it?  We didn’t see Independence Mine either!

Little Susitna River

Which river photo to show from our drive back to town…..how about this one!

Knik Glacier from our B & B

View of Knik Glacier from our B & B….

Knik Glacier with telephoto

And zoomed in.  A spectacular view every day in spite of clouds or rain.

First day of class

Day one in class saw a full slate of students working diligently, modeling glass paste and getting to know one another.  Chris and Christian had the studio well stocked and our every wish was their command!  Not to mention the catered lunch with truffles for dessert!

Using Steider Studios Glass Medium as a binder for small components

We had one kiln filled with beads, buttons & cabs; and another kiln filled with small sculptures.

Susitna River

Day two, I forgot to pick up my camera in class, we were so busy producing samples and discussing possibilities.  That evening, still playing the role of tourist by night, we drove out to Talkeetna, the staging camp for Denali, hoping to see Mt. McKinley.  No sun, no mountain view.  But the clouds made for a dramatic view of the river!

Will the sun shine today?

Day three of class … yep, more clouds with a wink of the sun.

Samples from Day 1 Powderology

These are samples from day one of Powderology, our second day together. Two more kilns full of tests yet to view and discuss!

Viewing samples, comparing notes.

Excited students dove into their samples with gusto, curiosity, and risk-taking attitudes.  I think I surprised them with how much could be done with powdered glass!  I caught a couple of them talking about exhaustion!!

Matanuska Glacier

That evening we drove out to Matanuska Glacier.

I am so inspired by the colors I can’t wait to start my ‘Glacier Series’!

Still light at the B & B, I grabbed a few shots of surrounding color.

Last day of extended Powderology course

How many different ways can you visually say the same thing?  Using wafers; full vs tack fuse; kiln-carved; and so much more.

Working with glass powders

Last day of class everyone worked long and hard to finish all the experiments they wanted to tackle.  We filled three kilns plus a load of wafers earlier in the day.

At the end of the day…

Ten very happy students and one extremely happy instructor that last afternoon!  Who looks more spent, me or students?!!

Reindeer Farm

After class we headed out to the Reindeer Farm.  Had high hopes of seeing Santa, but alas he was vacationing in a warm sunny part of the globe, we were told!  Do you know how expensive it is to ship an antler home?  A gift for my garden!  OMG!

Our last morning the sun came out!

We woke to sunny skies on our last day.  Yes, this is what the sun looked like.  Did I say the landscape is incredible?  Awe-inspiring?  Beyond spectacular?  The memory takes my breath away.

Our view coming into Palmer Alaska

Our last drive into Palmer was gifted with a sun-filled sky….joy  still welling in my heart to see this photo of it!

Collage of projects

Back at Half Moon Creek unloading kilns, giving a final critique to everyone who could be there & packing up my tools & samples.  Wish I had been more diligent with photography in class to show you how much our students accomplished!

Hatcher Pass

Then we headed back to Hatcher Pass to see what we missed due to cloud cover the first part of the week.  I could show you a hundred more pictures, but will try to refrain!

One last view of the first glacier segment

And a speed trip back to Whittier, where it was still cloudy, and raining; accompanied with the eerie news of Senator Steven’s plane crash.

It was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back.  For the incredible people, the enormous landscapes, and next time I really, really hope to see wildlife in the wild. Oh, and Denali.  And Valdez.  And Seward.  And Homer.  And bears!  Next summer I’ll  bring Powderology Plus back to Half Moon Creek!  Alaska is awesome, I can’t wait!!  Thank you Christian and Chris for the invitation, you were wonderful to work with!

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Telling Our Stories in Glass

….yet another fun adventure!  We had incredible students at Maryhill Museum’s Summer Art Institute, “Telling Our Stories in Glass” course.  Everyone made a fantastic tile in such a short amount of time!  These educators will go back to their classrooms inspired and ready to bring more art to their students.

Selecting Bullseye Glass

After learning about the types of glass available, participants selected what they wanted to work with from an assortment of Bullseye glass frit, stringer, confetti and sheet glass.  Thank you Bullseye Glass for discounting glass for these wonderful teachers, some of whom will offer a glass project in their own art programs.

Educators creating glass tiles.

Students then began building their tiles.

Building their tiles.

Tiles were made based on the stories participants wanted to share about their lives.

Design Decisions

Making design decisions…. Thank you Oregon Glass Guild for loaning us tools to use!

Layering the backgrounds, and building glass tiles that will be heated to tack and full fuse temperatures.

Maryhill Museum Summer Art Institute: Telling Our Stories in Glass

Finished glass tiles:  vertically, the left 3 rows were heated to 1385º, a tack fuse for texture; and the right 2 rows plus the bottom amber tile were heated to 1485º, a full fuse for a flat surface.

After class students toured my freshly scoured studio to see where and how I work.  Intrigued by all the samples lying around that I keep on hand for inspiration and instruction, they asked excellent questions about various processes.  Maryhill’s Executive Director, Colleen Schafroth brought a gift for me, “Maryhill Museum of Art” by Linda Brady Tesner, a book I’d been planning to buy about Maryhill’s history.  Thank you Colleen!

The day ended with a great meal at Everybody’s Brewing, downtown White Salmon!

Peacock at Maryhill Museum

A post about Maryhill Museum wouldn’t be complete without another peacock picture!  I love these birds!!

Next stop, Palmer Alaska where I’ll be teaching at Half Moon Creek!  Ready or not, here I come!!  Watch my upcoming class section for updates:  I’ll be coming to The Dalles and Portland Oregon as well as Austin Texas this fall; and contracts are already in for Las Vegas and Maui next spring!

Effective 4.1.15 this part of my business is closed.  I have sold the last of SSGM and it is no longer available. Thank you so much for supporting my efforts all these years.

I’ve been asked often lately about making glass clay (glass paste), so thought I’d give you a quick review:  what it is and how I make it.  I’ve taught this technique nationally since 2004, at the Art Glass Association Conference in Portland Oregon.  This is the first year in the last six that I did not teach Glass Clay (or Pate de Verre Without Molds) at the Las Vegas Glass Craft & Bead Expo!

Essentially glass clay is glass paste, another form of Pâte de Verre, but without having to make molds.  Certainly not a traditional technique, but a fun, easy, fast way to make small glass sculptures, buttons, beads, and more!

I make a clay-like substance, glass paste, by mixing powdered glass with a liquid binder or medium.  I prefer to use Steider Studios Glass Medium™.  After testing many different materials my new Medium burns out cleaner than anything I’ve ever tried, while still being able to carve more detail into it after it’s dry and before firing.  Most people use CMC, and I’ve heard of and tested many other concoctions that may or may not work for you, but rather than go into them all I’m going to just tell you how I make it, using the best Medium I’ve ever tried.

I mix Steider Studios Glass Medium™ with room temperature or warm tap water (if your water contains heavy mineral deposits, you can use distilled water, but it takes longer to set up…as long as a couple of days!):  Fill a clean jar with a cup of water.  Sprinkle in one teaspoon of Medium for a very thick paste.  (If you live in higher elevations, you’ll need two teaspoons.)

Use a whisk or fork to stir until dissolved, then let stand 30 to 60 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.    I like it to be the consistency of jelly.  I have stored Steider Studios Glass Medium™ in my studio for over two years after mixing, but typically it’s used up within a week.  I have used other binders that developed mold and just so you know, the mold adds an interesting patina.  If you prefer a less gelatinous mix, by all means thin it with a little more water.  Also, if you’re planning to use it for liquid lines, you’ll want to dilute it.

Wearing a respirator or N95 disposable particulate mask, place your glass powder into a mixing bowl.  I prefer to use a small glass bowl, but often use a 4 or 8 ounce plastic food storage bowl.  Ratios of glass powder to Medium vary, depending on the powder.  Straight out of the jar glass powder can be as grainy as sand or as powdery as talc.

As a starting point I use 2:1, glass to Medium.  I’ll place 2 heaping spoonfuls of glass powder into my bowl, then drizzle 1 heaping spoonful of Steider Studios Glass Medium™ over the powder.

Using a palette knife or spoon mix well, mashing Steider Studios Glass Medium™ into the glass powder until it’s glossy.  It should be the consistency of cookie dough, or a wet pie crust, holding together when pinched or rolled into a ball.  If it’s too dry, your project will crack; add more medium a couple drops at a time.  If it’s too wet, your project will sink down into itself; sprinkle more powder into the mix, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Once it’s mixed to a consistency that feels like clay or cookie dough you’re ready to play.  You have about 30 minutes working time to sculpt it, make pattern bars or press it into candy molds to freeze, then it begins to dry out.

I mix all my colors  before beginning to sculpt, and wrap each with plastic wrap to keep it wet until I’m ready to work.  I can store glass clay like this for weeks and have left it for up to a year.  It can be a bit sticky, so I work on top of waxed paper to stay as mess-free as possible.

For sculpting I use dental tools, metal and plastic sculpting tools, plastic make-up applicators, toothpicks, kitchen implements and whatever happens to be close at hand.

I’ve made faces, flowers, animals, and small open vessels and bowls.  These small sculptures can be used for door pulls, plant and garden decor, adornment for lidded boxes and much more.

You can press glass clay into candy molds, freeze for an hour or two, then pop it out of the molds.  The advantage to using Steider Studios Glass Medium™ for this application (known as ‘freeze and fuse’), is you can ‘cold work’ the edges and carve in additional detail before firing, after the piece is completely dry.

One of my favorite ways of working with glass clay is making paste pattern bars.  Have you played with polymer clay?  Play dough?  I use the same principles.

Roll it out (or roll it through a pasta machine) between sheets of waxed paper & stack layers of different colors, then slice, re-stack and slice again.

It’s easiest if you roll between two pieces of waxed paper because it can be sticky.

Make what I fondly call ‘Pig in a Blanket’ by making a rope, then wrapping it with a different colored ‘blanket’ that’s been rolled out flat.  Or roll your pigs into many blankets for ‘rings’ of color when you slice.

Pattern bars are sliced with a tissue slicing blade, rolling the bar one quarter turn after each slice so you don’t end up with one flat side.  Use these slices for buttons, beads, cabochons, or as decor for other glass projects just to give you a few ideas.

Make coils or ropes of clay, place different colored ropes next to each other for millefiore.

More food for thought:  add mica!  A little mica goes a long way.   Adorn with dicro slide!  Use a cute scrap-booking punch to cut shapes from Dicro Slide that enhance your design and apply just before firing.

To get a spiral effect, stack rolled out sections on top of each other.

Carefully peel off the wax paper, keeping it close to your work surface.

Then roll it up, smooth out and slice.  The ends will be uneven unless you roll out rectangular shapes instead of ovals.  I slice off the ends, roll them into balls, pushing the colors into a marbled pattern, then flatten them for buttons and cabs.

The next step is to let your projects dry on paper towels.  Use a food dehydrator, or just set them aside for a few days.  In a one day workshop we use hair dryers to speed the drying process.  Once dry, glass clay is very fragile, like a meringue cookie so use care in handling it.  Gently peel off the paper towel from the bottom.  Using an emery board and wearing your respirator, file off any rough edges along the bottom.  Use a wooden skewer to sand off any rough spots in your details.  You can use a skewer or a dental tool to carve in additional lines if desired.  Just remember to take care as it’s fragile.  Did I already say it’s fragile?  It’s very fragile!

When you’re ready to fire, try to fire like sizes and like colors together.  For larger projects or light colors, your soak time will be slightly longer.  I strongly recommend using a kiln that you can watch the progress so you’ll know when to stop and anneal, and you can note the process temperature in your kiln.  Your pieces are going to shrink approximately 25 to 30%, depending on your process temperature.  The longer you soak at process temperature, the glossier they’ll get and the more they’ll shrink.  Vent your kiln until it reaches 1000º while the binder is burning out.  You can ramp up AFAP, but I think it’s better to control the ramp up; and do start peeking around 1200º to 1250º.  Be sure to wear your safety glasses when looking inside the heated kiln.  In my kiln, depending on the size and color, my process temperature is 1300º with a 30 minute soak for small two to three-inch sculptures; or 1350º with a 13 minute soak for beads and buttons.  I anneal at 900º, using Bullseye’s annealing_thick_slabs chart for thickness.

I love introducing people to working with glass powders, whether wet or dry.

I hope you found this post useful.

Have Fun!  Be safe, wear that respirator and don’t forget your safety glasses!!

Effective 4.1.15 this part of my business is closed.  I have sold the last of SSGM and will not be re-ordering supplies.  Thank you so much for supporting my efforts all these years.

As Promised….

May 27, 2010

…from my September ’09 “Progression-of-a-project” post, here is the finished project, finally installed this month in the Japanese Garden, located at the OSU Extension office in Hood River.  It’s a small portion of the Master Gardener’s Learning Garden which sits above the Experiment Station orchard.  My glass insert plays a supporting role in Tom Herrera’s sculpture and I’m honored to have it there.  A lovely setting, wouldn’t you say?

Almost recovered from my most hectic spring schedule ever, and way behind in blogging.

I want to share my article published in Glass Craftsman Magazine, about organizing glass powder colors for those of you that missed it.  It’s my way of keeping powder colors organized and readily available for choosing which colors to work with in any given project.

Without further ado:

How to Make Powder Color Charts for Glass Fusing

I would like to introduce you to a method I’ve developed to organize all your powdered glass into easy-to-use fused bars of color that make up samples for each color “family”.  This method will give you color charts that are economical, quick-to-update and will give you a great amount of information in a small amount of space.  Having these useful Color Bars in your studio will make it easier for you to select which colors of powder to use and how much powder to apply in any future kilnformed project.

Color Bars made using transparent powders.

In my work, I use powders extensively and have developed this quick method that I call “Color Bars”, an at-a-glance method that has shortened  the amount of time I spend making up color samples for each of my fused glass projects.  I knew that the amount of powder I applied before fusing made a big difference in color saturation of the finished piece, and that the fired color could be different from the catalog image.  I needed an all-encompassing set of color samples that was economical as well as space-saving for my small studio.  I decided to make narrow one-inch-wide bands of color that would have all the colors I use in each color family on one bar.  You might choose to organize your bars in a slightly different way, depending upon the palette you use and the available space in your studio.

Color Bars made using opaque powders

What you’ll need:

-Powdered glass: all the colors in your collection of powders.  It is helpful to arrange them ahead of time in the order you’ll be applying the colors.  You will probably want to separate the transparent powders from the opals.

-Sheet glass: Fusible glass in clear,  white,  black, and if desired, French Vanilla (to test for color reactions that can happen in kiln work), all cut into 1” wide strips.

-Glass cutter and pliers

-Paper template marked into a grid of 1” squares that is as wide as your longest bar and as long as the number of color bars you want to make at one time.

-Respirator or disposable particulate respirator (N95)

-Line sifter

-Small enamel sifter

-Stabilo or Sharpie pen

Bullseye powders and tools for making the Color Bars

Organize your colors:

If you don’t have every color of glass powder available you can simply make your color bars with what you have on hand.  As your collection of powder grows you can update and expand your color bars.  Arrange all the colors in your powder collection from light to dark and separate them into color families.  This will show you how long you will need to make your strips of base glass for the sample bars.

You may find it helpful to make a paper mock-up of the color bars as a visual cue for where you want the individual colors to go before you don your respirator. Using the manufacturer’s catalog, simply select images of all the colors in your powder collection, then cut out the images and paste them in the correct order onto a strip of heavy paper that is cut to the length you will make that sample bar.  I use Bullseye Glass but you can do the same with glass from any manufacturer.

Paper mock up for planning Color Bars.

Tip:  I made color bars on top of white, black (opaque powders only), French Vanilla and clear sheet glass.  The clear base allows me to “audition” each color of powder over any color of sheet glass without having to make a sample of that particular combination.  The French Vanilla base gives me a good color reaction chart for each color.  Remember, transparent colors will show vividly on white, French Vanilla and clear base glass, but they will not show at all on black or dark colors.   For that reason I don’t use transparent powders on the black bases.

Tip: I combine color families to make a longer strip when necessary to keep my color bars as uniform in size as possible, and to avoid numerous small lengths that could potentially get lost on my work surface.

Preparing the base glass for a Full Fuse set of Color Bars

Cut your one-inch strips of sheet glass into lengths according to how many colors there are in each of your color “families”.

These color bars will be taken to a full fuse, so your sheet glass base must be two layers thick to avoid distortion of the shape.  Cut, clean, and glue all the strips of base colors in the lengths you have determined you will need.  To evenly distribute the powder in one-inch segments of color, place your glued two-layer glass bases on top of a one-inch grid, or mark off lines spaced one inch apart with a Stabilo® or Sharpie pen®.  Align each of the separate base colors for each color family, long sides touching so that you can sift one color of powder across all the base strips at one time. Sifting the powder over your aligned strips in this fashion is quick and gives you a more accurate layering of powder on each base.

Applying the powder to lined up and glued bases.

In order to give yourself as much information as possible in a one-inch space, it is important to use the powders in a variety of thicknesses on your base strips. Start by sifting as thin a line of powder (one pass) as you can across the widths of the set of strips using the line sifter.  At the opposite side of the one-inch section, again using the line sifter, sift a line as thick as possible, usually 1/8 inch high.  In between those two lines of sifted powder, using a small enamel sifter, distribute the powder creating a graduated application of powder (thicker on one end than on the other).  This graduation will give you a quick reference at how varying thicknesses of powder will appear when fired.  Be consistent in your applications, moving from thin to thick layers across all the colors.

Apply the powder in a wedge shape for color saturation gradations.

For the blue family, I made up two sets of bars.  One set for translucent colors had three bars – white, clear and French Vanilla; and one set for opaque colors had four bars – white, clear, French Vanilla, and black.

I cut my 1-inch strips eleven inches long for my translucent colors to accommodate the eleven different blues I currently have in that collection.  I arranged the turquoise blues separately from the other blues, and applied each of them from light to dark.  For the opal colors I only have seven blues in my collection, so my strips were cut into seven-inch lengths.

 

Tip:  To render a wider range of saturation within each color you can lengthen the color bars to allow a 2-inch long section for each color.  Note however, that this will double the total length of each color bar.

Continue making your color bars in the same way until you have made color bars representing all the colors of powdered glass you have in your collection. Carefully pick up each sample bar and put it on a freshly-washed kiln shelf with adequate space around each piece.  Load your kiln in your usual manner and fire according to your usual firing schedule for a full fuse.

Suggested Firing Schedule:

400°F per hour to 1100°F, hold for 20 minutes

400°F per hour to 1485°F (or the full fuse temperature of your kiln), hold for 10 minutes

AFAP (as fast as possible) to 900°F, hold for 60 minutes

100°F per hour to 700°F, turn the kiln off

Process Temperature Color Bars:

Process temperature color bars

A second set of color bars can be made to show you how process temperatures affect each color of powder.   For this set, apply the powder in the same style of graduated thicknesses as the Full Fuse sample set, using the same color placement.

You can use a single layer of clear glass for your base because we won’t be firing to a full fuse, therefore we have no volume control issues.

I cut 9 bars from my one-inch strips of clear in the length I need for the colors of powder I have.  After lining them up, long sides together on top of my gridded paper, I apply the powder in graduated thickness. Next I fire each strip at a different process temperature, holding for 10 minutes at each temperature; then anneal the glass as usual.  These tests tell me how the powder colors differ at each process temperature with the same holding time.  It can be painstakingly tedious to make and fire these sample bars, but I find it is well worth the effort.

Side view Process Temperature Color Bars.

Firing schedules are the same as the previously suggested schedule for each of these bars, but with a different process temperature for each. I made sample bars with the following nine process temperatures, and held each of them at that temperature for 10 minutes:

1250°F,   1275°F,   1300°F,   1325°F,   1350°F,   1375°F,   1400°F,   1425°F,   and 1450 °F

(note, in my photo I included 1225 as a process, but in my kiln that wasn’t hot enough for the glass to fuse.)

Why the Color Bars Work:

I used to fire each powder color onto two one-inch pieces of sheet glass and glue one to its jar while the other would ‘float’ around in my studio so I could “audition” it next to other colors.  When it was time to open a new jar of powder, I’d have to pry my color chip off the empty jar and re-glue the sample to the new jar.  My little one inch chips of ‘floating’ glass would become lost in my work area. These Color Bars are substantial enough that they don’t get lost and I can still audition colors next to each other.  I keep my color bars near my powdered glass (which is also arranged in color families) making it easier to select colors for any given project.

Edited by Judith Conway for Glass Craftsman Magazine, Issue # 216 – 4th quarter 2009

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