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  1. The salt effect never ceases to amaze my students when we try it on one of my silk painting courses!

    It's quite a simple technique but makes a fantastic effect and can be used in many ways. It's not always reproducible or easy to determine exactly how it will come out, which is part of its charm.

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    Salt you can use:

    You can use any salt! I have tried the following:

    • Official branded "effect salt". This is great, but is just salt!
    • Table salt (chip salt). This is great for small areas and fine grained patterns
    • Rock salt (bigger chunks). This is great for more dramatic patterns and larger areas
    • Himalayan pink salt (huge). This can be used for a focal point, or can be grated for a more fine grained pattern
    • Dishwasher salt (balls). I don't recommend this because they roll everywhere!
    • Maldon sea salt crystals (flat squares). This is interesting to look at, but the price isn't really worth it as it doesn't do anything particularly special and I don't think it gives a very even effect.

    You can also use salt solution, but I'll talk about that in another post!

    Tips to get a good effect:

    • To get a good reaction, make sure your salt is nice and dry. I have been known to pop my salt container on the radiator in winter!
    • Don't use too much water, as the salt pulls lots of the dye particles out of the silk and deposits them under the grains so you can end up with a really wishywashy effect.
    • Wait till your salt is fully dry before brushing off, or you can smudge the pattern.
    • You can re-use your larger salt crystals on other projects, but be aware that some of the colour may remain and can stain future projects.

    I find that salt gives more dramatic effects with ironfix paints than with steamfix dyes.

    Projects you could try with salt:

    • Seaside scenes
    • Patterns on brickwork
    • Fur or feather shading
    • Flower centres
    • Trees and landscapes to add texture
    • Funky backgrounds

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    salt effects 1

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    Have fun, and please do check out my silk painting courses!

    Jane :)

     

    Have you done silk painting and used salt? Post your pictures and comments here - I'd love to see them!

    You can also join the Guild of Silk Painters at www.silkpainters-guild.co.uk, or join their Facebook Group here.

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  2. Powder migration for fused glass has become quite popular recently, so here is a little set of tips and links from me.

    Here is one of my first samples. This is one sheet of 3mm clear glass, with a 2mm layer of powder frit sifted on top, and then a layer of coarse clear frit placed on top. I used tweezers to move pieces around to get an even coverage. I then full fused it. The sample is approx 10x10cm.

    powder migration 1

    Colours: Deep Cobalt Blue Opal Powder. Coarse Clear Powder Frit.

    Other glass: 3mm Tekta clear.

    Note that this piece will not come out perfectly square.

    powder migration 2

    Other ideas:

    You could try adding several colours of power and then white opal coarse frit (0113) on top to make white polkadots with rainbow edges.(This would need firing for a bit longer than normal as white frit is harder to melt down).

    You could use more than one colour of coarse frit.

    You could try using reactive glass, for instance turquoise blue transparent with french vanilla opal, which would give you halos around your dots. You could do this either way round!

    You could try doing this on an opal background.

    You could try putting silver on top of your base glass, then a non-reactive powder, and then coarse frit which would react with the silver.

    Check the Bullseye reaction chart for more ideas and inspiration: http://www.bullseyeglass.com/methods-ideas/get-a-reaction-bullseye-reactive-glasses.html

    The sky's the limit! I'd love to see what you create - please do post them in the comments :)

    Resources and links:

    This little tip from Warm Glass USA gives the basics: http://www.warmtips.com/20060530.htm

    This pinterest board focuses on powder migration and reactive glass pendants, so is a great place to look for inspiration: https://uk.pinterest.com/cdnrebel/powder-migrationreactive-glass-pendants/?etslf=4915&eq=powder%20migration

    Another interesting tutorial is the River Rock Reaction: http://www.bullseyeglass.com/methods-ideas/river-rock-reaction.html

    If you are looking for a tutorial in more depth, then you could buy "The Pebble Experience" webinar DVD by Tanya Veit of AAE Glass. She starts off with powder migration techniques, and then moves on to her pebble technique. She also has a great set of colour combinations for Bullseye glass. (Note: Buying this DVD does not give you access to her pebble experience Facebook group.)

    If you are looking for a book, try "Contemporary Fused Glass" by Brad Walker, which has a chapter on this and is also a great resource.

    Disclaimer: Use these tips at your own risk. Always wear appropriate eye protection and use a proper breathing mask when working with powders. Happy fusing!

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  3. There have been a few questions flying around recently about ways to work safely in your house with fused glass. I sometimes work on my fused glass projects in my kitchen, so thought I'd tell you what works for me.

    Nobody but me is allowed in the area while I'm working.

    I cut carefully and make sure there's no open food-containing items nearby. I work on a big cutting mat, and also clean the worktop with damp kitchen towel to get all the itty bitty splinters up, then sweep the floor after I finish.

    I keep all the shards and bits of kitchen towel in a separate lidded box (takeaway tub!) and dispose of it carefully when it's full. I pick up any big flying bits as I go (and often use them in other projects!).

    If I'm doing something which will definitely be messy, like lots of powder sifting, I sometimes open up a bin liner and put it over the work surface before I start. Wear your dust mask when using powders. I also turn on the extractor fan.

    If I had pets or small kids then I would recommend a separate working area where they don't go.

    I always wear safety glasses. Always. And shoes. I always cut standing up. I wash my glass in a bucket of water, and let any residue settle to the bottom before pouring off the water - this stops my sink getting blocked. If I'm peeking in my kiln I always wear my green kiln glasses (not my clear safety glasses as they protect from flying bits but not from infrared).

    If you're worried about flying bits, then you can always put your cutting mat into a deep tray or surround it with a little booth made from a cardboard box, which would stop most of the flying splinters. If you produce a lot of flying bits then look on youtube for glass cutting videos and see if you can improve your technique. Use the right tool and technique for the cut you want to make - it makes things neater.

    I always put my extractor fan on when the kiln is running. Or open the window! I always wear my protective gloves and special kiln glasses when peeking in the kiln. It's a really good idea to wear natural fibres, have your hair tied back and wear closed toed shoes. If you're peeking at higher temperatures or for a longer time then you need more protective gear.

    If I use my microwave kiln, I always use it in my craft microwave, never in my "cooking" microwave and have a large tile to put it on when it's cooling (never leave it to cool inside the microwave as you can melt / warp it!).

    Everyone designs their workspace differently. Some people prepare several projects, put it all away, then fuse. If you can do this then you need less space.

    Remember that your kiln needs to have clearance around it when you're firing it - most people recommend at least 1ft, but you might want to increase this if you have a larger kiln or are doing casting projects which require extra long firing times. It also needs to be on a non-flammable work surface. I fire my Paragon SC2 on a large granite tile which I got from a kitchen supplier, and elevate it off the work surface on little blocks so there's less possibility of the heat transferring to the surface.

    I have been known to use my electric glass grinder in the house - I do this by putting the whole setup into a large cardboard box with one side cut off to make a booth so that any spray is contained.

    I do not use my tile saw in the house - I wait till summer and do it in the garden because it can be quite wet and messy! Even outside, it can be a really good idea to use a protective box with this and/or put bin bags down, especially if you like to be able to wander around your garden in bare feet (though ALWAYS wear proper shoes, eye protection etc. when using tile saws and other equipment).

    It's a great hobby as long as you take a few simple precautions. Enjoy!

    PS If you're one of those lucky people who has a whole room or a dedicated studio for their glass work, then do check out my other post about setting up your fused glass studio.
     
    Disclaimer: I hope you find these tips useful. Use at your own risk. Always fuse responsibly.