It’s September. That means I start thinking about Christmas. Specifically, I start thinking about something I can make to give as gifts to friends. Since my new kiln is still a week away, I decided to experiment with making fused glass 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 recreate.
I used some clear scrap glass for my first attempt. 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.
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?
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. I decided to put the smaller pieces on the bottom with the larger ones on top. Finally! Success! Well, sort off. 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.
Refining the Process
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!
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