Let it Snow! Fused Glass Snowflakes

SnowFlakes (5)

It’s September. That means I start thinking about Christmas. Specifically I start thinking about something I can make to give to friends. If it were up to me, and not the budget, everyone I know would get a gift from me. So I usually make something and keep a bunch around for gifts. Since my new kiln is still a week away, I decided to make a few snowflakes in my small kiln. By themselves, they would be perfect for small gifts, or they could be tied to a package, hung from a wine bottle or gift basket. By the way, should you be a friend of mine reading this post, you will have to forget you ever saw it and act really surprised when you get one for Christmas.

Who would have known that this little item would require several experiments to perfect! So for anyone else who decides to make snowflakes, here is what I have learned. And if you’ve made some snowflakes, please share your tips by leaving a comment.

The pattern for a snowflake is easy enough to come up with, but I found a free pattern at http://www.alpineglass.com/shop/detail/7572. It seemed simple enough, so off I went.

Attempt 1 – I used some clear scrap glass for my first attempt. I followed the layout in the pattern. Much to my chagrin, when I looked in the kiln window after 30 minutes, I found some of the small tip pieces had fallen off to the side. Maybe I placed them to close to the edge.

Attempt 2 – I tried again making sure the pieces were placed carefully. Guess what? Some of the pieces fell off again! So now I have concluded that the expansion of the glass with the heat caused them to move. Maybe I’m heating up too quickly?

Attempt 3 – I used a really slow ramp speed. UGH! Still have pieces falling off. Maybe if I made the pieces a little wider they would be heavy enough to keep from moving. This was a possibility, but by now I was ready for Plan B.

Attempt 4 – I decided to put the smaller pieces on the bottom with the larger ones on top. Finally! Success! Well, sort off. The amber snow flake, pictured below, is the one I made in this attempt. It was difficult to place the small pieces. As I used tweezers to gingerly move the pieces in place, I had flash backs to playing the game Operation. Being the perfectionist I am, I decided I needed to fine tune the process and pattern.

Attempt 5 – First, I made a template that I could trace onto my kiln shelf showing where to place the small tip pieces. Then I changed the size of the small tips. Instead of 12 pieces the same size, I made 6 of them longer. I placed one longer and one shorter one together at a right angle. This gave me a little more contact between the pieces of glass. Finally, I had a piece I was happy with. It measures about 3.75 inches.

One other thing I learned along the way is how to position the wire loop. I positioned the wire loop on top of the long piece of glass then placed the small piece of glass on top.  Use two pieces of scrap glass under the wire loop to support it while fusing. Have fun…. Let it snow!

Update – 10/5/09

As I mentioned above, I wondered if a slightly wider strip of glass would help in keeping the tips from sliding off. Today I tried out that theory and I am happy to report that when I used 5/16″ wide strips, everything stayed in place.  It is definitely easier to place the pieces on top.

Update – 9/28/11

Today while surfing around, I found a blog that had instructions for making a snowflake that has some nice instructions and a variation on the theme. With the Holidays just around the corner I thought I’d pass the link on:

http://dean.ujihara.org/blog/?p=13


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4 Responses to Let it Snow! Fused Glass Snowflakes

  1. Thank you for sharing your learning process, I wish more people did that. It’s great to see someone work through the process – sometimes we feel like we are the only ones who don’t get perfect results the first time and then give up. When I try a new project, I focus on learning the technique and not the end result, which helps me enjoy the creative process and makes the projects more fun.

  2. Johnell – You are welcome! And you have some good advice: “focus on learning the technique.” I am a firm believer in that. It’s just as important to know what doesn’t work as what does work.

  3. I just bought a Paragon kiln and am a total newbie! (I have been doing stained glass for many years.) Can you tell me what kind of firing schedule you used? I have no idea how slow to ramp up to, hold times or anything else but love to try these!

    • Sharon – I will have to go back and check my notes, but if I remember correctly, I ramp up as fast as possible on these. I use my small 8″ Evenheat kiln to make these. It has a little window on top. I take it up to about 1475 degrees F and watch it until its done about 15 – 20 minutes. I cool AFAP to 960 and then turn the kiln off – these are only one layer of glass, and my kiln cools down slow enough to anneal these properly.

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