Methods: Reaction outlines (and quilt basting spray)
July 27, 2012 by Cynthia
I got hung up on making Bullseye-compatible “murrini” awhile back and started hunting up ways to add tiny detail, i.e., smaller than the average profile of a sheet of glass and repeatable. (and yes, I’m really, really aware that there’s a big difference between what I’m doing and what a skilled lampworker like Greg Chase does).
I talk about some of them in my murrini posts, but one of my favorite was the simplest: You get a big impact simply by stuffing two reactive glasses into a small space like a murrini mold. Surround a compatible glass rod with glasspowder it reacts to, for example, and you’ll get a beautiful, softly organic reaction line separating the two, almost like cartoon outlines. In the picture above, I’m getting it by playing around with sulfur and copper glasses together.
Sometimes, though, I need the same kind of line between two glasses that don’t react to each other. That takes a little more work…along with quilt basting spray.
Quilt basting spray is wonderful stuff. It turns anything it touches into a fairly sticky post-it note, and when I’m in the studio I use a lot of it. Sprayed on a model for a casting mold, it lets you pour on a refractory plaster mix over the model for a dead-flat even face coat. You can get a similar effect with any spray adhesive, or even hairspray…but the basting spray stays sticky forever (it seems**) and I find I get better results with it.
To use it to make a line, first pick a powder that will react with the glass. Dump a pile of that powder about as long as the rod in the center of a paper towel. Grab a cardboard box you don’t mid losing, put on a pair of nitrile gloves and take the glass outside. Stand the rod up in the box, one end on the bottom and the other balanced under your finger, and spray on a light, even coat of adhesive. Now go back inside, dump the rod on the frit.
Grab both ends of the paper towel and roll the rod back and forth in the powder, making sure it’s completely coated. Then lift it by one end and put it in your murrini mold or whatever you’re doing. If you make a blue painter’s tape template on sheet glass, you can also use this method to put a fine coat of powder there.
There will be just enough powder on the rod to make a fine line; if you want a thicker layer, spray the rod lightly again and recoat–the layer will just get thicker and thicker.
I’ve tried this method to make concentric circles around a rod or piece of glass, and it works…but it takes a lot of layers in contrasting colors to make them show up after firing if they don’t react to each other.
Disclaimer: I doubt I invented any of this; some is pretty obvious and the rest probably originated in Mesopotamia or something. If you know of an even smarter way to do it, please, please share!
*Just FYI, not all Bullseye rods are meant for use in a kiln. Some will change into weird sludgy colors, iridize or cause compatibility problems. It really pays to check before blithely assuming that any rod will work with sheet glass or frit.
**Which can also be an issue. NEVER NEVER NEVER schpritz quilt basting spray in a non-disposable area. I’m still trying to scrub the spray-stuck grime off my laundry sink.
- Methods: Frit volume The first time I packed frit into a mold I learned the...
- Methods: Cutting stringer When cutting stringer, remember: There's safety in numbers. Don't ask me why,...
- Methods: Embedding frit in frit Next time you visit a kitchen store, look around with your studio...
- Tools: Reactivity charting I've mentioned this before: Before you go combining frits, it's a good...
- Storage: Glass ID tips The first time I discovered that the supposedly French vanilla sheet I'd...