Home

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.

If you like this post, sign up to receive an email for future posts so you don’t miss anything.  It’s easy, just click the box at the top right of this page that says ‘Sign me up!’ and type in your email.  It’s right under the yellow close-up photo of my work.

This weekend during Blossom Festival!!  If you missed my studio sale, come to the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River Oregon and see a sampling of my work in glass (mine is the rainbow bowl at the bottom right of poster).  A dozen of us will be presenting our best work for your consideration.  While there, you can have a fabulous meal and stroll the incredible gardens.  See you soon!

Today Bambino’s….

March 23, 2011

…Next Week the Glass Craft and Bead Expo.

I love teaching others how to work with glass.  Today I went to Bambinos International Learning Center in Hood River and led some very young students through a glass-working session.  An excellent learning facility, if you’re a young family in the Hood River area I highly recommend it.

Lorena Lowell, Founder & CEO told me they plan to incorporate even more art into their programs and it sounds so exciting for the children of Hood River.  I am thrilled that she invited me back for another glass-working session this summer.

We made glass tiles that will be turned into refrigerator magnets.  Here they are prior to firing.  I’ll deliver the finished glass back to the students tomorrow.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Kudos to all those whose day job is teaching.

Effective 4.1.15 this part of my business is for sale.  I have just sold the last of SSGM and will not be re-ordering supplies to continue selling it.  If I find a buyer I will re-direct all links to the new owner so that my hard work doesn’t fade away.  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’m heading to Olympia next week to teach the Machine Embroiderers of Oregon and Washington how to make their own glass buttons with 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; I chose to offer a new class this year instead, while waiting to launch my new Medium.  By ‘launch’ I mean all that a new product entails, including packaging, labeling and marketing.  And after two years of research, it’s almost ready…almost!

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.  I have testers working with it across the US and Canada, and am holding off my launch until all results are in.  An instruction sheet, including complete firing schedules are included with each jar of Steider Studios Glass Medium™.

If you’d like to be among the first to know the release date, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking the ‘e-mail subscribe button’ at the top right of this page; or click on my Facebook Business Page (then click on the ‘like’ button to receive updates), where the announcement will be made.

Have Fun!  Be safe, wear that respirator and don’t forget your safety glasses!!  Oh, and I’d be ever so grateful if you’ll tell your friends about Steider Studios Glass Medium!

Effective 4.1.15 this part of my business is for sale.  I have just sold the last of SSGM and will not be re-ordering supplies to continue selling it.  If I find a buyer I will re-direct all links to the new owner so that my hard work doesn’t fade away.  Thank you so much for supporting my efforts all these years.

If you like this post, sign up to receive an email for future posts so you don’t miss anything.  It’s easy, just click the box at the top right of this page that says ‘Sign me up!” and type in your email.  It’s right under the yellow close-up photo of my work.

installed-copy

Still learning my way around the Blog, I am revisiting this project now that it’s installed, after learning how to post so you can ‘click to enlarge’.  You may have to click twice, and once you get to the  larger photo there should be a magnifying glass, allowing you to enlarge once again.  It’s well worth the look.  I’m so proud of the high school students who made these tiles for our panels.  

I finished fabricating the panels Sunday night and  installed, then edited this post on Thursday!  They had to lie flat during transport so I made 5 separate trips into Hood River.  I couldn’t build a safe and reliable apparatus to transport all 5 panels together over my bumpy curvy mountain road.

The grand opening is Saturday, March 7th, noon until 4pm, to see the artwork that has been produced through Arts in Education, as well as the new wing of the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital in Hood River.

If you’re coming in from out of town, come on Friday night to attend the opening at the Columbia Art Gallery show ‘Art Heals from Birth to Death’, from 6 to 8pm, where my ‘SunDrop’ series will be displayed.  The pieces are finally in the kiln being shaped into bowls today and tomorrow!

%d bloggers like this: