Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Freeze and Fuse Glass, Rudraksha Bead Necklace, Charm Necklace/Bracelet.....

I have been experimenting with a method of fusing glass called "freeze and fuse". You take powdered glass, put it in a mold with water, skim of the excess water, pack it, add more powder and water, pack it, etc until the mold is full.  then you put it in the freezer for about an hour, demold it, and put it in the kiln.  VOILA!  beautiful glass sculptures! ...well....not exactly.......
seems like everything new i play with i have to do it over and over until i figure it out.....  I wanted to compare the process and results to those you get with glass clay - which is basically the same thing except it is made with CMC goo (cellulose methyl something or the other, mixed with water and allowed to set up - looks sort of like jello) .  Fuse and freeze, as it turns out, is very delicate.  once demolded you have a few minutes to move it around and then, well it's sort of like making sandcastles - once dry it can fall apart really easy.  Glass clay, on the other hand dries hard and you can sand and smooth and shape it.  But I digress - back to "fuse and freeze".  For my first experiment I chose 2 latex, deep "alice in wonderland"   molds. one of humpty dumpty (or is it tweedlee dee?) and one of the white rabbit.  I filled them, packed tight, used a paper towel to siphon off the excess water, and froze them.   Here they are all filled up and just out of the freezer.
...and here they are demolded.  Turned out pretty detailed and way cool.
these are the other molds I used.  they are silicone.
going into the kiln...and then TADA!

Not too good.

I used a fusing schedule that had me ramp at 200 dph to 190 for 30 minutes then 500dph to 1100 with a hold of 30 minutes and then a ramp at 500 dph to 1320 with a hold time of 30 minutes.  Rabbit and dumpty totally had a meltdown.
as you can see it was WAY TOO HOT!   a lot of the detail in the faces was lost.So then i tried it again.  This time i would do the final fuse not quite so hot.  These are the molds I used.  I also did some cool bugs with metal thing maker molds and some flowers using polymer clay hard molds.  i did not use a mold release (baby powder?) in the hard molds because for some daft reason I thought they would just fall out like ice cubes.  but they did not.
while this batch was doing its first ramp up to 190 degrees, i recycled the wet glass powder into other flexible molds.  on the 2nd ramp up to 1100 degrees i then put these additional frozen objects into the kiln.  i mention this because i had different results with the 2 different sets of objects.
below shows a face with the extra ramp, a face without it (but using recycled glass powder-yuck!), and the original too hot fuse (not much detail but better looking)
comparison of the 2 rabbits  both bad.

All of these objects were then fired to 1275, quite a bit less than the 1320 from before.  They fused with a lot of detail - but they were not fire polished and had a rougher texture and not much shine. ...and the rabbit still slumped on himself.  So i guess i need to try it a bit hotter next time.
Actually, I don't think there will be a next time.....i don't think the results are worth it.  i'd much rather work with the glass clay where i can refine and sand and still get great detail.  I will probably find a use for the crosses and some of the faces, but i wasn't happy with how the colors turned out either.
I have also been working on some jewelry projects. Here are two....the others are gifts and I can post them at a later date......
This is the first Rudraksha bead necklace that I have finally completed.  The beads were gathered from the Hindu Sacred Purple Marble grove here on Kauai - part of the adventure my friend and fiber artist Lorri went on last December.  These are 5 segment beads, hand gathered, scrubbed, polished and drilled.  They have been strung with sterling silver bead caps and the neckchain is tiny coral seed beads.  The clasp is fine silver.
Below is a charm bracelet/necklace I have just finished.  I took various charms I had left over from MANY MANY MANY charm swaps and then added a bunch more - 44 in all.  You can see my favorite themes- eyeballs  and hands.....but there's a bit of everything here!    The charms are all on their own handmade chain and it is detachable.  It is pretty hefty - definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone too dainty...it's heavy! The bracelet is adjustable 7 to 9 inches, and as a necklace it is about 25 inches.
Here's a slide show that shows you lots of details:

Both necklaces are listed on my Etsy site.


Joanne Huffman said...

Intrigued by your glass experiments - I haven't worked with glass in a very long time. Love your charm pieces. I bet you get a lot of compliments wearing them.

Marilyn Rock said...

I think experimenting is half the fun! Love your charm pieces - just awesome!

Michelle Cummings said...

wow that bracelet is gorgeous and the fused glass sounds addicting!

Lorri Scott said...

I am so far behind on reading friends blogs! The Rudraksha beads turned out great! And I love the multi beaded charm bracelet, what a concept! So much to look at. Can I see it in person when I come visit, I guess if it hasn't sold huh?