Tag Archives: fused glass dishes

Fused, Slumped, and Pretty Sweet (if I do say so myself)

Hey, kids, I have finally emerged from my drug-induced haze! Hooray!

The post-surgery pain hasn’t left me completely, but it is manageable with just a little Advil here and there,which means I can now spend (most) of my day in an upright and un-looped condition.

To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot from last Tuesday through about Saturday. It’s all kind of a jumble of painkillers,  blood,  Arrested Development, ice packs, and pudding cups.

While I was convalescing, my husband was kind enough to go and fetch my finished fused glass pieces from the class I took two weeks ago. I was so excited to seem them. (Well, as excited as one could be while biting on a giant gauze pad and randomly passing out.)

They turned out even better than I expected! In fact, I loved them so much that I used one of my few moments of semi-lucidity to get online and start shopping for kilns. Let’s just say that it is a good thing I didn’t have access to my wallet (and it was time for another pain pill) or I probably would have made a very expensive impulse buy. Instead, I passed out.

Crisis averted.

I still desperately want a kiln, but they are far too pricey and would most likely fry the wiring in our old house (we can’t even turn on the microwave and toaster oven at the same time, lest we trip the damn breaker).

Aaaaanyway, I wanted to share how I made these in case anyone else wants to give it a try. I found a pattern online for something similar, but it didn’t really give the best instructions. If you know how to cut glass, this is actually a pretty simple process.

Square Fused/Slumped Dishes

The first thing that I did was cut three 5″ squares of glass to serve as the base (I used an aqua color for two of them and a swirly blue/light blue for the third).

After I had my bases, I started cutting random squares and rectangles out of several different colors of glass (in shades of blue and green). I was advised not to stack the glass pieces more than three high (including the base). So, I arranged the larger squares/rectangles on the bottom and then put a smaller square/rectangle on top (you can see this in the process photo at right).

I continued arranging and fitting the cut pieces together until the entire base was covered. I tried not to leave any large gaps in between pieces, but a little extra space is fine. It is hard to cut pieces that will fit together perfectly.

Then came the fun part (that took me for-freaking-ever to finish). I pushed the top two layers of glass of the base and began cleaning the pieces. You want to use window cleaner and paper towel to get any fingerprints, bits of glass, etc. off.

After each piece was clean and dry, I used a toothpick to apply some hairspray (yep, the instructor gave us each a little cup of hairspray to stick the pieces together) and then put each piece back onto the base in the original arrangement.

Since I don’t have a kiln (yet…heh, heh), the instructor took the pieces with her to fire in her kiln. I am told that the process involved firing each piece until it fully fused and then firing each one a second time in mold (this process is called slumping). This second firing is what gives the dishes their raised sides. Otherwise, they would have just been flat squares.

The whole process is fairly easy if you have glass-cutting experience. Even if you don’t, it is all a series of straight cuts, so very beginner friendly.

Here are a few more photos of the finished pieces…

photos : fused glass dishes by yours truly

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A Little Something Different

When my muse left me and  I was in the deepest throes of unspiration, I signed up for a one-night open studio fused glass class at Harford Community College, where a friend of mine works. The price was unbeatable, and it turned out to be a great introduction to a medium that I was not terribly familiar with.

My experience with glass never really moved beyond a brief attempt at mosaic work in my early 20s, when I lived a stone’s throw away from one of the largest art glass suppliers in the country. It mostly involved me making a mess and leaving glass shards embedded deep in the carpet fibers for future tenants of our apartment to discover at a later date.

Basically, my only skill walking into the classroom last night was scoring/cutting glass (and, of course, making a mess).

Fortunately, that skill served me quite well, as the project I had planned involved cutting squares and rectangles, which is about as simple as you can get when it comes to glass cutting. Other people in the class used the grinders, but I found them a bit too intimidating my first time out.

My goal was to make three 5″ square dishes that will be slumped in a mold to give them slightly raised sides. The pattern I found seemed simple enough – cut a base piece of glass and then stack random rectangles and squares on top of it.

As with most things that look easy on the Internet, it was a lot more work than I had anticipated, especially when you factor in my perfectionist/OCD nature. Not surprisingly, the three hour class time was not enough for me to finish and I ended up keeping the instructor an extra half hour while I frantically cleaned and re-assembled my pieces. Fortunately, she was a good sport and didn’t seem too put out by my tendency to bite off more than I can chew.

And now, we play the waiting game.

Ah, the waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos! (Yes, a gratuitous Simpsons reference – you’re welcome!)

I will get to pick up my finished dishes next Tuesday night and I must say, the waiting is interminable for an instant gratification girl like me. One of the most difficult parts of this process was not knowing how the finished product will look. I tried to study some before and after photos of fused glass projects before the class, but I still felt I was going into this thing blind. Hopefully, the finished product will be somewhat representative of what you see in the photos.

So, the class and instructor were great and I definitely got more than what I paid for ($29 for the class and $25 for materials).  HCC is a bit of a schlep for me, but it was totally worth it. If you live in the area, I would highly recommend looking into this class. I may take it again the next time it comes around, so you may even see me there! Hmm, on second thought, that may be a deterrent for some of you. Heh.

photos : pre-fused glass by yours truly

 

 

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