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  1. Whether you are an experienced fuser, or a novice, it is likely that at some point in your career you will get your glass stuck in the mould.

    This is not always the end of the line for the glass, or the mould, as there are lots of ways to rescue things depending on whether your mould is ceramic or metal.

    Pendant Pods with holes

    Image result for pendant mould

    (Image from www.warm-glass.co.uk)

    These are notorious for people getting things stuck on them! They're fantastic if you can get them to work for you.

    If you got it stuck in the first place, it's possible that you didn't use enough kilnwash / boron nitride spray / zyp / primo primer, or whatever separator you normally use, or that you fired it too long or too hot. Some separators don't hold up to casting temperatures so do check the information to make sure you are using the correct product for what you are trying to achieve.

    That said, these make fantastic pendants and are well worth the effort. These often get stuck around the little round bit in the middle, because glass shrinks more than ceramic and so it hugs the centre part as it cools.

    You can start by folding a towel and putting it on the worktop, then putting your mould upside down on top and giving it a few good taps (not enough to break it though!) - a rubber mallet can help with this if you have one. Sometimes this will dislodge the pendant.

    If that doesn't work, then put it back in the kiln, upside down, suspended on little shelf posts and do a tack fuse - that should enable it to drop out.

    Heating these in the oven doesn't work, as there is ceramic in the middle as well as outside so you're trapped both ways!

    If any little bits are still stuck on the mould, you can remove these with a dremel tool (with a diamond bit, use it wet!) or with a bit of wet and dry sandpaper.

    If you have managed to break off the little bit in the middle you can use fibre paper or a piece of chalk to replace it, just use a new one for each firing.

    Stainless steel drape vases:

    https://www.warm-glass.co.uk/images/products/3081_2992_0.jpg

    (Image from www.warm-glass.co.uk)

    If you slump or drape something over one of these, or a cocktail shaker, or other similar vase, sometimes if you over-fire it can get stuck. These are normally fairly easy to release, as metal shrinks more than glass, so wait until it's cooled down properly and then pop it in the freezer for a bit. Often this is enough to shrink the metal enough to release it from the former.

    If you can't get it off, then pop it back in the kiln upside down and it should release at slump temperatures. Keep an eye on this as you may be able to loosen it just enough to keep your vase too!

    If you want to get more kiln wash on it before you start, heat it up in the oven (or with a hairdryer) and then spray kiln wash on it. The evaporation will help more of it to stick. If you have one, you could also rough up the metal with a sandblaster or some wet and dry sandpaper.

     

    Stuck in a ring?

    Image result for glass casting ring

    (image from www.fusionheadquarters.com)

    The new metal casting rings (for pot melts / screen melts etc.) are brilliant, but you need to make sure you line them with 1/8 inch fibre paper (NOT thinfire or papyrus - they're not thick enough) so that when the metal ring shrinks around the glass it won't trap it.

    If you've trapped your glass, try popping it in the oven first to see if that will release it, as metal expands more than glass.

    If that doesn't work, you can support the ring on kiln posts and take it up to slump temp and wait for the glass to drop out.

    Ceramic drape vases

    Image result for plant pot terracotta
    (You can use these upside down for draping!)
    Image from www.wmpot.co.uk

    These are not recommended, because there's a high possibility your glass will get stuck and crack. This is because glass shrinks more than ceramic when it cools, so it will hug your vase very tightly and not want to come off without a fight.

    If you do want to have a go, for instance if you're on a budget and using a terracotta plant pot, it's a good idea to put a big circle of fibre paper over your mould, as well as kilnwashing it, as that way there is some space even if the glass shrinks. Be generous with the fibre paper so that you know it will reach all the way to the ground around your pot in case you over-fire.

    If you are on a budget, it's better to keep an eye on your local charity shop and get hold of a second hand stainless steel cocktail shaker!

    Don't use things which are smaller at the bottom than at the top. These are a recipe for disaster!

    If you get one of these stuck, remember you can put it in upside down and take it up to slump temp again - it should release - just keep an eye on it so you can keep a vase shape rather than a puddle!

    Stuck drop ring vase (ceramic)

    This is one of my pieces, which cracked on the way up and wrapped itself round the drop ring! I tried the freezer but it wasn't having any of it...

    I set it up in the kiln, upside down, supported on kiln posts with a couple of posts on the top to counterbalance the weight of the glass. I also put some thinfire on the top of the ring in case it decided to flop down the other way instead. Then I full fused it.

    drop rescue

    As you can see, success! The glass came free and only the very tiniest bit of glass remained on the drop ring, and that was easily removed.

    I'll use this glass in another project (or for practicing on my tile saw!)

    free drop rescue

    I hope you have found this helpful. Please do add your hints and tips in the comments.

    Jane :)

    Disclaimer: These are some things which have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. Always fuse responsibly.

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  2. I know some of you may still be working on your tax returns. Here's a tip to make it less frantic for next year...

    stopwatch-janecameron

    Take your lovely new shiny 2017 diary and put a note in for 2nd week in April to say "Start doing my tax return". If you have children who are home for the hols then maybe put this in for the first week of the summer term instead.

    Returns are so much easier to do when they are fresh in your head (and you haven't mislaid your box of receipts!), and you will find that HMRC (and your accountant if you have one) are far less busy and have more time available to answer your questions. You still don't have to pay your tax bill till the usual time!

    You'll also find next year's return easier because you've only just done this one, so the process will be fresh!

    From a business perspective, it's better to know how you did last year asap as then you have some concrete information to inform your planning.

    Go to it, and good luck!

    PS If you need your P60 from your day job too, then get the self employed stuff done first and you can just add that in when it arrives!

    (Thanks to Freepik for the image!)

    EDIT 17/1/17: Thanks to the lovely people over at Which for getting in touch to let me know that they also offer a new simple (no jargon!) calculator (officially recognised by HMRC) for filling out your tax return (small fee to submit to HMRC). If you're interested, this can be found here: www.which.co.uk/money/tax-calculator

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    new calculator

  3. This question has been coming up a lot recently on some of the glass fusing communities I'm on, so thought it would be good to do a post about it with my way of doing it and also links to some other people who have other ideas.

    THREE WAYS TO WEIGH YOUR GLASS, WITHOUT MATHS!

    These are my 3 top ways of making sure you have the right amount of glass for your pot melt, screen melt or other melt. You can also use the "fill up with water" method for glass casting.

    1) Cardboard Box Method: This is my favourite method because it's so simple! Use a piece of cardboard box, cut out the shape of your melt and then cover it in layers of glass pieces to make the depth you want. The good thing about this is you have a permanent "template" to go with your mould. Just add a bit for the pot!

    For a "normal thickness" melt you probably want 2 layers of 3mm glass (6mm), or 3 layers of 3mm glass, (9mm). If you don't have enough glass then your ring won't fill up enough, so if you want a perfect circle it's best to slightly over-cater with the glass.

    (You could use paper for your template, but I find it tears when I try and tip the pieces into the pot.)

    (Note: If you're just dripping on to your shelf, your melt is likely to come out as a circle and will spread so it is approx 6mm thick, so it's always a good idea to put a barrier or ring around the glass to make sure it doesn't run off your shelf!)

    2) Weigh It Method: Weigh a 3mm piece of glass the right size for your melt. Write down the weight. If you want to end up with a 6mm piece (using the 3mm circle as a base to drip on to) then put the same amount of glass in the pot, plus a bit (as some always stays in the pot). If you want a 9mm piece put twice as much plus a bit in the pot. If you're not using a circle of glass on the bottom then put more in the pot to compensate. Note: This is the most accurate non-maths version!

    2) Fill It With Water Method: Another way, which is really helpful for weird shaped melts like fish and stuff, or for glass casting, is to put plasticine all round your metal melt circle, in a deep tray, fill it up with water as far as you want to have your glass, pour into measuring jug and then use the same volume of glass (not weight as glass is heavier than water) plus a bit for your melt. (This assumes you are melting into a stainless steel casting ring. If you are then you don't need to add extra for the pot as the circle will be a bit smaller once you have lined it with fiber paper so you'll have a bit spare to leave in the pot).

    THE "MATHS VERSION"!

    Square melt: length x width x depth.

    Circular melt: 3.142 (pi) x half width squared (r squared) x depth.

    Then multiply by 2.5 for weight of glass, and add a bit for the pot.

    (e.g. 10cm square melt x 6mm deep would be 10 x 10 x 0.6, which would be 60, x2.5 for weight of glass = 150g plus a bit for the pot)

    (e.g. 10cm circle melt x 6mm deep would be 3.142 x 5x5 x 0.6, which would be 47g, x2.5 for weight of glass = 118g plus a bit for the pot.)

    LINKS WHICH CALCULATE IT FOR YOU

    There are also several pot melt online calculators and tutorials out there, which can help you with this:

    Got a favourite link? Used this method to work out your pot melt? Please do show me pictures / comment below!

    (You could use paper for this, but I find it tears when I try and tip the pieces into the pot.)