Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wash It Down With Hairspray

We held our first ever fusing workshop on March 14 & 15 and it was a huge success. Since this workshop was a trial run for myself and Paul we only had 2 students, Susan & Natalie, attending. Even though everything went well we did  find out that there will have to be a few small tweaks made for future workshops.  Our next workshop is scheduled for June and we'll have 3 students attending that one.

Day 1

We started out the first day with a discussion to familiarize our  students with kilns, firing schedules, molds, glass compatibility and other aspects of fusing glass. Each student had a work station with a Beetle Bits cutting system  and various hand tools.  The next order of business was to explain how to use the cutting system to make the different types of cuts we would be doing in the workshop. The Beetle Bits cutting system is easy to use and is essential for making the precise repetitive cuts that our projects require.

Next we had a circle cutting demonstration and everyone cut the glass circles that would be used later for making their 9" bowl. Then we started the first phase of our Fossil Vitra project by painting striations on the first two pieces of glass to make it look like a slab of rock, then coating our "fossil" leaf with powdered glass.

These pieces then need to be set aside to dry before we can continue so we moved on to our jewelry project where we would create a pendant and earrings set using dichroic glass. After we finished assembling the pieces we put them in the small kiln and fired it up.

After we finished with the jewelry we resumed work on the Fossil Vitra projects that had dried by then. First we carefully placed our leaf in a prepared dam mold, then carefully placed the first piece of glass on top of it painted side down,  Next we place the clear iridized piece of glass on top of the first piece painted side down as well.  Before we knew it these projects are ready to go in the kiln.

Next we started the Autumn Birch Fritography Dish.  Fritography is "painting" a picture using different colors of crushed glass instead of paint.  Frit is available in several textures ranging from powder to coarse pebble sized pieces.

After finishing our fritography image we took a break for lunch. We had one of our workshop staples, Taco Soup.  It was relaxing to take a little break from the busy morning while enjoying some good food.

When we finished with lunch we started on the most intense and time consuming project of the workshop, the Checker Platter. This project is made from 180 precision cut pieces of glass that are stacked 3 layers deep. This project would be next to impossible to make accurately without the use of a cutting system. After all the pieces are cut I find that it is easier to keep everything aligned by building half of  the first pattern layer against a straight edge while securing the pieces down with drops of hairspray and then placing the project into the dam mold before continuing the building process.


Our final project of the first day was creating a Pattern Bar.  We stacked many strips of different color and width glass in a mold, leaving gaps and voids so that when the glass melts down the colors would bend and flow creating plenty of movement. 

That took us to the end of the first day and before we left we stacked everything in the kiln to fire over night.

Day 2

On Sunday morning when everyone came back in the large kiln had completely run its cycle but was still too hot to open.  This was expected but the small kiln with the jewelry was already at room temperature so we started working on jewelry while the large kiln continued to cool down.

Our first task of the day was gluing bail loops on the pendants and posts on the earrings which then gave us our first completed projects of the workshop. Then we started on our 9" bowl projects. For this we had to make mosaic size frit by cutting strips of glass and breaking them into small pieces with our nipping pliers. Next we took the circles we cut the day before and placed them in prepared dam molds. I used the torch to heat and bend some glass noodles for stems and leaves. Then the flowers were constructed with the frit we had made,  and then we added center colors  and confetti embellishments.  At this point we were almost done. Susan opted to use black turning her flowers into poppies, while Natalie opted to use yellow to make her flowers look like roses.

Then we buried the whole project with a layer of clear coarse frit and it was ready for the kiln just in time for us to eat a lunch of White Chicken Chili.

After lunch, the large kiln had cooled down enough to open and we got our first peek at Mo and Sho's projects from the day before.

With the large kiln opened we were then able to return to the Fossil Vitra projects as we remove the two pieces from the mold and washed them to remove the ash and releasing agents.   Here's our first glimpse of the leaf fossils. 

We prepped the mold yet again and placed the glass back into the mold fossil side up.  Next we added a few chips of dichroic for color, sparkle, and general accents and then we covered the surface with a coarse clear frit.  We added a dusting of  a orangish-red powdered frit and then spritzed it with hairspray to wash the powder deeper into the frit.  After all that it was ready to return to the kiln.  Then we were ready to begin our final project of the workshop, the pattern bar dish. To begin this project I took the pattern bars that were made the day before and sliced them into quarter inch strips using a tile saw. This is the process that reveals the hidden beauty of the pattern bar.

We then cut four blackborder strips and a center spacer before assembling our final piece. 

All the projects we made on Sunday then went back to the kiln to fire overnight. Over the next couple of days I re-fired all of the pieces on slumping molds to give them their shape.

And these are our students completed projects.  On the left we have Natalies (Sho) pieces and on the right we have Susan's (Mo).

If anyone wants to participate in this workshop, they should get in touch with us ASAP. The 2015 schedule is full and we have started filling spots in the 2016 schedule. For more information visit our Fun With Fusing webpage at

Bayou Salé GlassWorks

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