Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sun Catcher Repair

Just as I was finishing up a sun catcher, the glass cracked...
What to do?
Throw it away?
No, I worked too hard on it and liked it too much. Time to learn how to repair a copper foil stained glass piece!

I removed the solder and broke out the offending glass.

With the soldering iron and tweezers, I removed the foil that had surrounded the cracked piece. This was a tough job and I almost gave up here!

The edge finally cleaned up, I cut and foiled a new piece.

I soldered it together again (being careful not to get the glass too hot this time) and added a ring.


Oh yeah - the agave bloom? Guess what happened to it.

javalina original photo credit: Jeff Parker

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bloomin' Hairy Agave and The Latest Sun Catcher

I was out in the yard today photographing my latest stained glass sun catcher when I caught sight of this agave in bloom:
Agave multifilifera
I call it a 'Hairy Agave' since it has woody thread-like hairs coming off the leaves.

Agave multifilifera bloom
I'm going to keep an eye on this and be sure to get pictures when the flowers come out.

The sun catcher:

Stained glass is a real challenge to photograph. I'm happy with my progress on learning stained glass, though. My solder lines are getting better and smoother with each project.

The color of the agave bloom matches the colors of my sun catcher!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Latest Stained Glass Experiments

Practicing, practicing... trying to get smooth lines with solder.

At first I was using lead-free solder, but it gunked up my soldering iron really bad.

I had to stop making stained glass for a week while I waited for lead solder and a new soldering tip to arrive in the mail. I'm back in business now and the lead solder is much cleaner and easier to work with. This is my first project using beveled glass:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stained Glass

I love the way light shines through glass.

There is a stained glass star that hangs in the window of my studio. Being the creative day-dreamer type, I spend a lot of time gazing out the window through that star. I've often wished I could make something like that, yet for various silly reasons, I've put off learning stained glass. (Just for laughs, some of those reasons are: Hot glass is just cooler; Cold glass is sharp; Stained glass is in the Country Crafts category; I have a phobia of soldering!).

Well, no more. I just can't stand not making colorful things that hang in the window for light to shine through.

I scraped together my pennies and bought the remaining supplies I'd need to start making small stained glass projects. Luckily, I already had a Glastar grinder and a lot of beautiful colored glass from my previous foray into stained glass. This is a wind chime I made for my mom in 2013. It's my attempt to find ways to use stained glass without having to learn how to solder!

Finally my soldering supplies have arrived, I've watched hundreds of YouTube videos, and okay here we go, my first soldered stained glass thing... a pair of earrings I guess:

My second stained glass thing, a blue pendant. Really wonky, flux all over the place, hah!

Gaining courage, trying something a little more challenging:


Monday, December 8, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Kiln Guy

This guy lives inside my bead kiln. He's my bead rack. He kindly keeps hot lampwork beads resting on his stomach so they don't touch the kiln floor:
Did you know he wears really cool red Converse sneakers too?
He begged me for them!
Inside the kiln:
His feet are on the left
The glass is shiny in the picture above. ^^ That's because this photo was taken before I realized that the smooth glass let the beads roll around too much, so I etched it for a rougher surface.

Here he is posing on top of the kiln for a full body pic:
You can see that he's got a really bad case of Scoliosis. The right side of the kiln is hotter than the left and it warped the glass.

How The Kiln Man Came To Be

A couple of years ago there was trouble with my new kiln. The metallic luster was disappearing from my beads if they were positioned within 1-1/2" of the kiln walls or floor. 

This was a big deal for me since 90% of the beads I made used metallic glass. I worked with the kiln company for several months trying to figure out a solution.

For starters, I needed a non-metallic bead rack for the inside of the kiln, to keep the beads propped up and away from the walls. Rather than buy ceramic kiln furniture or a metal bead rack, I made my own from glass. I figured why not add details like a face and shoes!

My kiln still runs too hot, as evidenced by the bending 12 mm rod of Effetre Clear glass. My kiln controller is set at 850 deg. F, but if I use an independent thermometer to test that it's actually about 920. It's even hotter on the right side - it would have to be hotter than 970 to warp the glass like that.

I've pretty much solved the vanishing metallic problem now. I've turned down the kiln temp, I'm using The Kiln Guy, garaging my metallic beads on the left side, and developing the metallic luster onto the beads while they are hot. Putting the beads into the reduction flame while they're still fairly hot helps to fuse the luster to the glass.

Thank you Kiln Guy! Couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fixing the Kiln

My bead kiln has been shutting off randomly during a work session, so I'm replacing the relay.

Here's the opened side of the bead kiln. The relay is the black box at the bottom:
playing with electronics
I tried to read the part number on the back of the relay with a little piece of mirror, but that idea was a fail, ha ha! After some wrangling with the connectors, the relay came out easily enough. I hope the new one solves the problem.

Have you ever had a Glass Hive kiln relay fail? If so, what happened?