momfillingplatterHeld an informal workshop in my studio a few weeks ago–enjoyed it very much and my “students” appeared to get a kick out of it as well–and Mom suggested that she would like to do some glasswork, too.

She’s a terrific ceramic artist; some of the pieces she’s thrown for my birthday/Christmas gifts are among the favorites in my collection. Ceramic artists have a pretty ingrained understanding of the effects of heatwork, and we’ve often discussed the differences between ceramics and glass in that respect, so I figured she’d take to it.

momplatterdoneShe did, like a duck to water. She wanted to try a technique I’m working out right now, a frit tint/cast process, to make a platter for a friend’s Christmas present. She chose an oval Bullseye platter mold, which kinda set me thinking. I build casting boxes for my panels out of 3mm clear glass and superglue, with sides that range from about 3/4 inch to 1.5 inches (depending on the effect I’m looking for).

Took a bit of thinking to figure out of how to get a similar wall on an oval without (a) cutting and slumping it or (b) cutting and stacking ovals, which would be ‘way too thick.

What we came up with is at the top of the page. It isn’t the way I’d normally recommend doing a dammed-up oval, but for the tray-filling option it works quite well. And in the end we had a custom oval frit casting tray, one that Mom could fill with her choice of tinted frits.

Just as an aside, for virtually any other kind of thick oval project, I simply run some strips of fiberpaper around the outside of the piece, slightly below the finished level (to allow surface tension to round over the edge without pricklies). Then I use about a gazillion kiln posts and bricks to hold it in place.

As long as you touch evenly and lightly every inch or so around the edges, with enough weight behind it, the paper will stay in place. I’m not sure I’d use this method for more than about a half-inch of glass–the weight of the glass may push the fiber paper around as it’s trying to move. For that, I generally cut an oval of fiber paper that’s a bit bigger than the final size, pin the vertical strip together (with stainless steel pins) and push the oval into the strip circle.

That forces it to take the correct shape, and the excess fiber paper in the oval slides up the sides of the strip, forming an additional dam to keep the glass from seeping out underneath.

It does leave a crease in the edge, but I’m not too concerned about the condition of the edges with any of these methods, since I usually cut or grind them off.

Anyway, the platter came out, I had my favorite waterjet cutter (John Groth) cut off the edges to make a clean oval, and I slumped it today.

momstreakyglassMom then decided she wanted to try making some small plates or trays for Christmas presents, and we headed to Bullseye’s Resource Center to pick out some glass. Unfortunately, the stuff she really liked was regular streaky and ring-mottle stained glass, not fusible.

She wanted a pretty, watercolor effect in her friend’s favorite colors. We headed back home with a sheet of fusible clear/white streaky, she picked out some frit powders she liked, and we made our own “streaky” glass.

Wasn’t difficult–just sifted, flung and sprinkled the powder in random patterns across the glass. What you see here is BE pink, olive green, powder blue, neo lavender (opaque) and a little cobalt blue. It doesn’t show up very well in the photo, but it’s a delicate, airy pattern when you see it in person.

We’ll cut it into squares, edge it with something (haven’t picked that out yet) and probably can get 4-6 small plates and a larger serving dish out of this piece. All in all, a great start.