One of the great things about working with fused glass is that if something doesn’t quite work out the way I expect it to, I can usually reinvent it. I call these evolution pieces. They start out as one thing and end up another. I can sandblast, grind, saw, add glass, re-fuse, or any combination of these things to get a piece looking the way I want it.
But! I have to say this week I have had my share of… shall we say… disappointments or learning experiences.
I originally intended to recycle some scrap glass into night lights like the one pictured here. It is hard to see in the picture, but it is made of broken pieces of glass recycled from scrap glass. It is not a flat piece of glass, but has some texture. Since I wanted several of these I chose to make a strip of the glass that I would then cut up to the right size. To make these I have to closely watch the kiln and check it when it reaches the process temperature. I hold the glass at this temperature just long enough to fuse the pieces together and not lose the texture of the broken pieces. Normally I set up the alarm on my kiln to go off when it reaches the process temperature. If I am done in the studio I set up a baby monitor so I can hear the alarm in the house. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn on the baby monitor in the house. By the time I remembered, the kiln was already in the cool down cycle. The glass ended up almost flat. Not what I wanted.
To make the best of this, I used my tile saw to cut the strip of glass, surrounded it with black glass, and fused it together. I was really excited with the result, but the piece had a few rough edges and a bit of dimpling along the edges. I used my grinder and hand pads to polish most of it out. The rest I thought would all smooth out when I slumped the piece into a dish mold… Not! While the edges were nice and shiny, the little dimples along the edge did not disappear.
I did some reading on the internet where someone suggested you could slump and polish the edges in one step. I knew that in reality, this was not a good practice. But I had to try something to salvage the piece. The theory was that once the piece is slumped you could heat up the kiln quickly to a higher temperature to polish the edges and then quickly cool down again. Nice in theory! My mistake was to put the already slumped dish back into the mold and try this process. The result was not only a misshaped bowl, but a cracked mold as well.
The lesson learned….
There are no short cuts. Make sure the piece looks perfect before the piece is slumped.