Thursday, December 31, 2020

There's A Drink Called Irving?

We had another Fusing Workshop a few weeks ago which gave us five beautiful pieces that I just can't ignore, so here goes.  Susan D, Jan, Martha, Lisa, and Leigh Anne all joined in for the fun that was actually spread across two separate classes.  When they came in they were all given a spot on a table with a work station that looked like this.

A Present Plate is actually made out of 25 pieces of glass.  Only five of the pieces (the bow itself) are not cut with the Beetle Bits Cutting System. We start with a 10 inch square of white glass which forms the actual package part of the plate and then assemble the rest of the pieces on top of it.   Next we cut two 1 inch strips that run through the center of the present to form the ribbon.  These are cut in three pieces with one of the ribbon lengths running the entire 10" height of the plate while the other two are cut into 4 1/2" strips that finish forming a  +  in the center of the plate.  If you start with strips longer than 10" you can lay them on top of the glass and mark and cut off the overhang for a perfect fit.  We then cut out a large circle and four triangular pieces to make the actual bow itself.

Next four  pieces of clear glass are cut into 4 1/2" squares and laid in the four corners of the plate giving us a level surface again.  The large circle is placed in the center of the plate to form the knot of the bow while the four triangles are placed at angles to form the actual bow itself.   As a final touch we cut 12 small 1/2 inch squares out of three different colors of glass and randomly scattered them over the four white 'wrapping paper' corners to add a little festivity to the present.

Here's a look at a completed but yet un-fired plate.

Once all the glass was cut and placed, the plates went into the kiln where they were heated up to about 1450 degrees  over a period of 8 hours so that all the glass would fuse together into one piece.  The next day AFTER THE KILN HAS COMPLETELY COOLED we opened it and had three gorgeous plates (and a quick test strip to see what color changes might occur with some new glass Russ had just received.)

So all that's left now is to look at our completed projects.  Here's a look at Susan D's plate proudly displayed on plate stand.  Susan left her plate flat while our other students slumped theirs.
Slumping involves placing the flat plate into a slightly curved mold and then putting it back to the kiln and heating it just enough to make it form into the curve of the mold.   You can only do this step after your project has been fused into one piece of glass or all of the separate pieces would shift drastically as they melt.  Multiple firings (sometimes 3 or even 4) for one project is a regular occurrence when doing kiln work.
This is Jan's finished (curved) plate.   She used aventurine green glass for her bow and ribbon which give the glass a sparkly effect.  She also rounded the corners of her decorative squares so they are dots rather than square confetti pieces.
 Leigh Anne made her bow and ribbon out of a bright yellow/orange glass and ended up with a real beauty!  Leigh Anne had made this plate while working on the table along with her mother, Lisa, who was working on a plate of her very own!
 And this is Lisa's powder blue ribbon and bow plate!  Whose do you think is prettier, Lisa's or Leigh Anne's?  I know that they're both equally beautiful!

Finally, last but not least we look at Martha's lime green plate which very much resembles Susan's but Martha curved hers and changed out the blue confetti (square edges) for red polka dots.

So that's it.  Everyone had fun, everyone was thrilled with their results and everyone wants to do other projects so I guess we have to call this Fusing Workshop a success.  That means that fusing classes will surely be happening in 2021!  

Happy New Year everyone!


Thursday, December 24, 2020

That Will Require Patience (And Time)

Sometimes a finished piece needs a little extra to make it look complete.   That little extra may be as elaborate as adding wire (see Betty's Christmas Trees and Lara's Bluebird a little further along in this post) and other times it's as simple as adding a drop of paint to make a pupil or an eye ball (as in Angie's Frosty the Snowman).  When I use paint people always ask what kind it is and I answer "Pébéo Vitrea 160 paint".  It's made for glass work and comes in assorted colors by the bottle or in a paint pen.  The instructions state that you should put the painted glass into an oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees to allow the paint to set more firmly onto the glass but on small paint jobs I see no difference and usually skip the oven step.   Should you chose to use the oven remember to paint your piece after it's been ground but BEFORE wrapping it in foil. You want the single piece of glass in your oven, not the finished stained glass piece!

That said, I've found that nail polish works wonderfully on glass and I've used it frequently throughout the years.   It's available in MANY colors and doesn't come off the glass unless you actually scrape at it.  I've never put it in the oven though and I would advise you NOT to do that with nail polish.

So then, first up this week we have Cindy's M.C. Escher inspired Marble Swirl is finished and looking nothing short of marvelous! I love the 3D effect and when it was hanging in the shop EVERYBODY commented on how nice it looked without ever noticing the cracked piece in the (very obvious) center which we fixed when Cindy came back in with the matching glass.  After that minor repair I can say that this is perfect.

Ann completed her Purple Rosebud Window just in time for the holiday and I believe I heard an audible sigh of relief come from her once it was hanging and we took this picture.  With it's smaragdine colored leaves and inner border, this window has a style all its own and is another example of Ann doing another wonderful job both quickly and efficiently.

Lisa soldered, washed and colored four Crosses, two of each design that you see pictured.  She attached two small posts to the bottom of one of the blue crosses and then drilled two matching holes into a wooden stand so that the cross could be mounted onto the pedestal.  I believe she'll be gifting these and anyone who receives one will surely be pleased.

Mary Grace can rest easily now that her Address Window is completed.   People worry needlessly that the numbers and the border have to be cut from the same glass but in a word: Nope.  As you can see, two different shades of purple not only work wonderfully together but probably even better than if she'd used the same purple.  It adds more shading while maintaining a two color (purple and amber) color scheme.

This is just one of Susan D's three Reindeer that she finished this week.   They are shaded differently but the big difference on this one is that if you look close enough you'll discover that he is Rudolph The Quintessential Reindeer!  He's a red-noser for sure, that one is!

Linda F wrapped up all the work on her Joy Panel by finishing her soldering and adding some brass channel.  Angling the letters of the word makes this far more interesting than a straight out JOY, don't you think?  It also somewhat follows the rule of thirds which we talked about a few months ago.
Started and completed in just one night, Lara's Bluebird looks stunning.  The separate feathers on the wings are actually formed by tacking eight think pieces of wire across a solid piece of glass.   You can easily make these as cuts but the thinner wire gives an added touch of elegance to the design.

Helen wrapped up the work on her LSU Window but the colors didn't display as brightly as I'd hoped in the picture.  Nonetheless, this is another window that Helen can be proud of especially since she does so much work while at home out of the class room.

Check out Angie's Frosty the Snowman!  The coal eyes and buttons are just dots of glass paint put on after this was completely finished (washed, patinaed, waxed).   I can see this being a replacement to the other snowman that our students love to make because there's less dealing with small pieces and a much easier paint job to finish it off.  And yes, I made a copy of this pattern because I can see this being a big hit next Christmas.
Beth finished her Fish Suncatcher and as I always say, you can't go wrong using assorted greens throughout all of the pieces that make up a fish.   Beth wasn't sure what to use for the fins and some of the head pieces but it all worked out wonderfully.  And believe it or not, that mauve colored belly is from the same sheet of glass that the green back was cut from!

Betty turned out six more of these Swirling Christmas Trees and has the wire work down to a science at this point in time.   Even attaching the jewel that hangs from the lower right (giving this piece an extra boost of charm) became child's play for her once she learned the trick.  What is that trick?  Cut the wire a bit larger than you need, wrap it twice, and then cut away any superfluous wire.  It's all in the wrist!
Talk about a production line-- Annette got another six of her Praying Angels finished before she left class.  She was under the gun on these but rose to the occasion and came in to class with the six of these Baby Angels only needing to be soldered.  Below is a look at just two of them because I'm just plain lazy and don't want to photoshop out 4 other backgrounds.

Here's the deal.  Cheryl completed a window this week but she was down to the wire putting the finishing touches on it so she left with it only needing to be washed, patinaed, and waxed.  That, she said, she could do at home. Here's a look at the completed window (made out of stock bevels) looking somewhat fluxy and with no light behind it. I think you get the picture though.

Next we take a quick look at all three of Susan D's Reindeer including the one we looked at earlier with the red nose. Although they are each made from the same pattern the different color schemes give each Reindeer their own personality.
And now we get the part of the Blog where we look at projects that are still being worked on.  Here's Susan R's Bird Feeder with the side sections joined by three base pieces of glass.  I've mistakenly been calling this a Bird House in previous posts but I know what it is now so from here on out I'll have it correct.   All this needs are the two semi-elaborate sections that make up the slanted roof (let's just say that it's shingled) and then this will be finished!

Kerry began a Nicholls Window and has the logo cut out and practically ground already.    Now get this-- what you see is only the bottom portion of this window.  A dog's face will grace the top of this two piece window.  I'd show you that but I haven't drawn it up for Kerry yet.   We'll see what that ends up looking like when we return next year.
In the past seven days Linda L has been as busy as can be because she got three more sections of her LSU lamp assembled!  She still needs to solder these and then attach them so they form a 4 sided lamp after which she'll attach a brass cap to the top.  All of that could possibly happen in her next class but it's sort of hard to say because lamps ARE time consuming.  At any rate you can see that these look Grrrrreat!  Wait a minute, that's the wrong tiger I'm quoting there.

Santa Clause may come just once a year but sometimes he stays late as in the case with Jan's Santa Claus window.   She's to the point where this just needs to be ground and wrapped and that means that she'll EASILY have this ready for display next Christmas. 

Betty also spent her time in class cutting out the background for a Mardi Gras Panel.  The mask itself is already ground and tacked together so all she had to do was cut a piece of glass the size of her background, place the mask on top, trace around it with a Sharpie, and then cut on the lines.  the next step for this will be cutting a border.  You can even  see all six of the Swirling Christmas Trees that she made resting above her Mardi Gras Mask.
With just one piece left to cut and then a pair of borders, Bee is just about ready to to have that big question asked-  How much is that doggie in the window?!  I have to give Bee special a special round of applause for altering the pattern so very much and making it entirely her own.  Only the curtains, the shower head, and part of the floor remain.

Here's a Gingerbread House with a bit of a twist-- you can't eat it!  Linda F had already gotten so very far on this window while only having worked on it one day.  This will be finished VERY early in the new year for sure! 


Martha DID change the lighter gray that she had used for her Pelican's back feathers and once they were ground and fitted into place she resumed her wrapping duties.  As always, I love how the Pelican and the post he is standing on cuts into the border.  It literally makes the subject matter stand out.  This is going to be a big feather in Martha's stained glass cap once it's completed.

MiMi's waiting for her wooden doors to be delivered before she begins grinding and assembling all of her Hexagon Windows so in the interim she's made another Sunflower Heart.  It's been cut, ground and wrapped leaving only the soldering left to go.  You've got to love these and, as always, MiMi's work is flawless.

Shawn got her Christmas Ornament Window all tacked together and then worked on the border which is a beautiful red/green mix.  Just like MiMi's project, there's only soldering left to go on this so I don't think it will be long now.  I just wish we could have gotten it completed in time for Christmas.

So that's it.  Another year older and deeper in debt.  We certainly hope that 2021 works out better than 2020 did but do you know what?  In terms of work accomplished I don't think we had a bad year at all here in our classes.  We certainly had a lot of laughter and we surely needed that so I'm thinking that we really can't complain.
See you again next year!

Monday, December 14, 2020

If That's What Makes You Happy

Lately we've been having issues about measurements.   Sometimes students tell me they want, for example, a cross window that's 16" x 20" with two borders.   When I give them their pattern they measure it and say that they mean that the cross part should be 16 x 20 with the borders adding to the size.   Sadly, that's not the way it works.   The measurement is the finished size of the window not the inner part of it.  Borders change size depending on the size of the window so you can never know how much extra space borders will take up.  Consequently, measurements should ALWAYS include the borders (and channel) as measured from by the red lines, not the green lines, in the picture below.  Measurements are the overall size of the completed project.


First up we have Rowena's Ballerina Window.  People have asked me why she didn't make the dress pink but Rowena's grand daughter always dances in grey thus the color choice.   Now that we see it completed you have to admit that this Ballerina looks INCREDIBLE in grey.  And look at that perfect border glass that she picked-- Stunning.
I have to say that Cheryl walked out the door with an incredibly affecting Pelican Window.   With each phase of the creation of this project Cheryl got to see that slowing down is the key to making a great looking window, which is EXACTLY what this is.

I haven't seen this Angel made in probably over a decade.  It was nice to see Barbara H dig this out of the holiday pattern drawer and make it again.  As far as I know it was drawn by my Uncle back in the 80's.  The pattern is tattered and torn but you can easily see that it's the paper he originally designed it on.  His patterns always had a flair to them as can be seen in the beautiful angle that this Angel follows. 
Kerry's got this window down to a science now since this is his third rendition of it.  He's changed the amount of borders and their complexity in each of his Cross Windows with this one featuring 5 piece corner sections.  Honestly, I can't believe how wonderfully the border photographed in this-- usually this glass looks VERY dark to the point of being black.  What you see below is truly how great this window looks.
Annette got four more Baby Angels finished but only because she's been working so diligently on these throughout the week between classes.  I think she has four more to go before she can breath easier and if she has them wrapped before she comes into class I think she's going to get them all completed.

Ann put the finishing touches on her latest Hand Mirror before moving along to another Rose Bud Window.   These are always popular around Christmas and Ann's work is impeccable as usual.

Our last completed piece this week is Tracey's final Butterfly Lawn Ornament.  I'm sure she'll be making more of these in the months to follow but she says she's finished with these for the time being and will be moving along on stained glass roads that she's traveled less.

Angie pulled out this Snowman pattern last week and this week she has it all tacked together already.   This will surely be completed when we post our last blog of the year next week and I think it's going to look even better than it already does.

Beth B already has one of her fish all ground and ready to be foiled.  She also has a second one about halfway to the point of completion.  If she can have one of these wrapped we'll surely see one of these completed in time for Christmas.  If she has them both foiled, then we should see both of them finished.

Betty, always one step ahead in the game, is working on a Mardi Gras Mask Panel as well as three Christmas Tree Ornaments.  The trees only need wire work to finish them off and Betty plans one doing that before she comes back in.

With her buildings cut and ground (save for the roofs) Lara is all set to begin cutting all the windows for her window.  After each of them has been cut and ground (about 30 of them) she'll wrap them and then trace them into their places on the houses.   Once she cuts off the lines she's traced things should fit together with only the lightest amount of grinding necessary.  

At the very last moment of class Cindy got the last piece of glass ground for her Escher Spiral Marble Window.   She's on fire with this piece so I can't wait to see how much she gets wrapped when she comes back in.  If you want to talk about a design that flows, this is it!

Sheri is officially finished with the grinding of all her Koi Fish and Water Lilies.  She's missing about  5 pieces that she'll need to re-cut but the rule of thumb is to leave those spaces empty and then fill them in after the window has been tacked together.  That means that Sheri can either begin wrapping or begin cutting out her background glass when she comes back in.
Jan's almost ready to begin grinding her Santa Claus and will do so after she cuts the remaining pieces of Santa's face.  Nice red and green colors really make this window...stand out.

Helen got the border attached to her LSU Window and even finished soldering the front side of it.  She has a Nicholls Window in mind for her next project and I'm sure we'll see that next week because this will surely be finished by then.
This is just one of four panels that Linda L needs to make for her LSU Lamp.   Last week she had two tiger heads cut out and had started grinding them but this week she has one panel almost completed.  Not only that but she also has the second tiger head tacked together as well as two LSU logos which means that she only needs backgrounds and borders cut out at this point.   Linda is moving along quicker than a wildfire!

This week we got to see Lisa begin making these four ornate Cross Suncatchers.  All they need is solder at this point in time and I have no doubt that she'll have these completed when we next see her. 

With all of her background cut and ground, Shawn spend her night wrapping pieces of clear, textured glass.   She's about halfway through with that and I'm thinking that we'll see this get a border when she returns to class. 
Martha's Pelican is now officially completely ground but she doesn't care for the grey that she used for the center feathers running down his/her back.   I'll admit that the color change is somewhat bold in the picture but when the two shade of grey are back lit the color difference is far more subtle than what you see here in the picture.   We'll see what Martha decides to do when we return.

Susan D has three Reindeer in the works-- one which is completely ground, the second one about 90% of the way to being completely ground, and the third one just needs to have a body piece cut out and ground.  That's what I call progress!  I'm just worried that these might be some of  the reindeer that never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.  :-/
Then there's Susan R who has the front and back sides of her birdhouse all tacked and soldered.  That means that these will get joined together next week and then she'll be able to work on her two roof panels.
Is that an Egyptian Symbol Window that Mary Grace is working on?  Nope.  it's the back side of her 112 Address Window.   She got her border attached this week and she got the front side soldered as well as some of the back side.  Yep, this will be ready for Christmas for sure.

Last but not least we take a look at the Gingerbread House Window that Linda F is going to begin.  If you look closely you'll see that there are numbers on the pattern which is a telltale sign that the pattern has been traced onto poster board.  And that's exactly what Linda did.  She's got her glass all picked out and this pattern will have some cut glass on it when we see it next.
We only have one more post to go before we call it a year here at the shop.  There are still a few projects racing to be finished before Christmas so in our last post of the year we should have quite a few finished pieces.   Be sure to come back next week to see which ones they are.