Monday, April 22, 2013

Paint chips

Paint chip samples, to go into the binder. Before firing they always look lifeless and like drawing pastels, in reflected light:

Pre-firing, in transmitted light. I sketched little phrases on them for contrast. The samples are intentionally not blended even:

This was a very beneficial test, in the end, because the transparent green enamel I thought I bought was opaque. That project got sidelined for a bit as I try to decide whether to try it with enamels, or flashed glass. I don't want a leadline where... ah, but that's another post for another day. Three new colors coming this week to test as well.

Bird Badge Comission

[Now that the weekend has passed and she has the panel, I can post this safely]

I took a commission job from a friend, to be delivered in just a few days. I'm writing this on Wednesday, but I will save the post until the weekend just to be certain the surprise isn't ruined.

The design is her personal SCA badge, a bird bendy blue and white. Unfortunately from a recent remark I don't think this is what she is registering with the society, but the piece is done and her husband, the commissioner, is pleased. [Note: Nope, after she got it she said this was the right one!] I learned a new stupid mistake to avoid while working on this.

The original image provided:

I took a piece of my favorite clear class, a heavily seeded clear, and got to work tracing the design with Reusche stencil black:

Once I got as pleased with the result as an artist can be, I went to fire it. That is when I discovered that the piece of glass I had cut was sized to fit the design I printed out, and not my kiln. For some reason the piece seemed considerably less than the 13" internal space of my kiln, but I forgot to consider it's octagonal shape. After the paint was dry, I had to cut strips off of all four sides to make it fit, and then the corners didn't sit on my round kiln shelf. This lead to my first stupid mistake. I'd been doing a lot of silver stain tests lately and figured that this was safe enough, as this wasn't a slumping schedule I was using.

Unfortunately I was thinking of the 1000° silver stain schedule, when comparing it to a slumping schedule, and not the 1240° to which my vitreous paints must be fired. The next morning I opened the kiln and with horror wondered if I had ruined the kiln.

Not only had the four corners slumped down, two of them resting on the firebrick beneath the shelf, but my careful cleaning of the kiln shelf wasn't good enough. The piece was slumped and picked up residual silver stain, to boot! I got brief amusement recognizing the stained shapes (the Latin cross from Bryan's roundel stands out quite well).The piece was quite ruined and now sits next to my work bench as a reminder.

I cut a piece of glass to fit my equipment and resized the pattern to fit it, and not the other way around. I fired it as before, flipped it over, and enameled it. Another caveat I learned: If you are using a hake or matting brush to remove dust while cleaning up a job, make sure it is actually completely dry. Instead I damaged two of the strips of blue enamel, and had to touch them up. It drives me nuts because you can see the thicker areas on the finished object, but the commissioner had no complaint and time was running short.

I fired it again and the end result was rather nice, especially viewed from across a room:

I've acquired a distrust of enamels, however; the edges of some of the stripes have tiny bubbles that appeared, and otherwise don't seem as even as I would like. Elskus wrote as much in his book, so I expected it. If I were doing it over again I might reconsider and do it with modern copper foil technique and maybe paint the detail lines on as well.

The final piece gets an oak frame and then off to its new owner.

Reusche Stencil Black (RP 1059) (Gum Arabic and Water)

     570°/hr to 1240, hold 0
     Full to 1040, hold 5
     50°/hr to 986, hold 0

Reusche Transparent Blue D2867 (RP D273359) (Gum Arabic and Water)
     570°/hr to 1060, hold 0
     Full to 1040, hold 5 [I typically use the same schedule for my enamels and vit. paints, just changing step 1]
     50°/hr to 986, hold 0

Oak framing stock (1" x 3') from Delphi. Hardware from local hardware store. Base glass unsure, I get it from a local shop and  love it. It's one of the cheapest clears I've seen, which does not detract from the fact it's one of my favorites.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pennsic Lantern

I want a nice-looking light source for Pennsic, although I'm going to keep it modern and electric. I have a thing for lanterns, but the two hanging for decoration around the house (with LED candles) aren't suitable for.... <evil Russian accent> Enhancement....</accent>. This made for a nice, and quick project.

I was passing through Menards and found these decorative lamps on sale, with a hinged door, for $10. I opened it up and immediately saw the four glass panes are held in by bendable metal tabs.

I took it home and bent out the tabs to discover that the pieces are also held in place by a strip of foam adhesive, kind of like what you'd mount a poster with (if you had no regard for the quality of the posters). My plan was to replace the two side panes with Midrealm Pales and the door (back) with mirror, to channel the light out the front. So, with that in mind, I took my glass cutter, scored horizontal lines across them, and smashed out the glass.

I used pliers to remove the shards and the foam adhesive strips. Then I cut strips of glue chip glass. I don't want lead lines impeding the light coming out of the lanterns, so I laid them on my lightbox and used a clear silicon adhesive/sealant to glue them together.

I cut a piece of mirror for the door and glued it into place, along with squares for the inside ceiling and floor, again to channel the light.

Once the silicone sealant was solid enough, I popped the panes into the sides and closed up all the tabs. Lantern done! I intend to take a bright flashlight and put it in the lantern, possibly rigging a switch near the handle on top.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Test Binder

A helpful idea to share quickly. I've begun accumulating test pieces and samples to the point where I can't keep them straight anymore. Enter my test binder:

I took an old binder, and filled it with baseball card sleeves you can get at your local hobby shop or Wal-Mart (try the hobby shop first). Each glass chip goes into a sleeve, with the back of a piece of 3x5 notecard. This gives an even white surface for viewing the samples, and the lined side of the cards has notes on what the sample is. Right now I have a description and, when relevant, firing schedule for each piece recorded.

Memorial Disks

After several weeks of not being able to stand at my work benches (sprained ankle followed by gout attack), and with very few weeks until my last option to enter MK A&S for the year, it's time to put the hammer down and get serious, or I won't be entering this year at all.

It took a dozen tests to get everything settled, to get a method to create two armorial disks. The disks are bearing the arms of a departed friend, blazoned "Azure, a chevron argent, overall a Latin cross Or." One will go into a panel for A&S. One will be attached to the lid of the handmade box containing his ashes.

I ordered two square feet of flashed glass, blue-on-clear. I also had a small (7x7") scrap of blue I found on a fluke at a local shop that doesn't normally carry flashed. I placed that into my Morton circle cutter and popped out a perfect disk. For the second disk, I cut one of the new sheets up. Popped it into my circle cutter, and met with heartbreaking (and expensive) disaster as the disk mis-cut. A second square became two more half-circles. Then a third. I blew through $75 worth of glass in an hour. I decided to forgo the fancy circle cutter and do it slowly, by hand and grinder.

Not too bad. Then, on to the acid etching. Resists/masks have been a problem for me, after several tests. Duct tape (fuzzy edge), contact paper (very fuzzy edge), and a resist gel were tried and found problematic. Most of the "tape" solutions I was trying are actually suggested for sandblasting flashed glass, not acid-etching it. I tried them anyway, because I had no better ideas and I'm not yet equipped for sandblasting. The gel was especially tricky because after I smeared a coat on the glass, I needed a "resist resist" to keep clear my target pattern. I laid down duct tape first, and lifted it to try and leave behind what I needed, but the lines weren't clear enough for my taste.

I ended up going back to duct tape, figuring I'd rather have a roundel with slightly fuzzy edges than none at all. I wanted a wider roll, however, to avoid issues where two pieces of tape match. A trip to the hardware store turned up a 4" wide roll of Gorilla-brand tape... and this stuff is mighty. I put a strip of Gorilla tape mostly across where the design will be, and two extra strips above and beneath. I then covered the gaps with two more thin strips, trying to get as much coverage as possible. I put a copy of the roundel on top with white glue, attacked it with an X-Acto knife, and got something workable.

Then, began the cycles of acid etching cream. Five of them, I do believe, in all. Sitting on scrap mirror for protective purposes:

After two coats, I believe:

Three coats:

After four:

I was shocked but pleased with the result. I gave it a fifth coat to clear up the edges. The glass is a lot clearer than I expected, more so than with sandblasting. While washing it in the end the water filled in the pits and made it completely clear.

The Gorilla tape worked far, far better than I had hoped. It stood up to wirebrushing to remove dried coats of acid etch, and kept the fine points intact. Here is a shot on top of my ancient crown template, for visibility.

Now knowing how to get the silver stain to work, I applied my stain and fired it.

I am exceedingly pleased with the result!!! Now, to get it into a panel....

Monday, April 1, 2013

Painting Practice Pieces

I made a quick practice piece to check my firing schedules and the paints:

For some reason (other than being an SCA herald?) I like to use an Ancient Crown for my practice pieces. I mixed a small batch of Reusche 1059 tracing black, and a matting color of about 50/50 Reusche 1220 A gray green and 1110 bistre brown #7. I did the matte, waited, very roughly traced the ancient crown, waited. I removed the matte from about 2/3 of the crown and did a thin highlight around the entire border. Fired it, applied the silver stain, tried a new blender, and fired. This shot shows some of the matting coming off:

 I'm using Reusche 1384 silver stain, Yellow #3. I had a previously mixed batch. I took a small bit, diluted with lavendar oil, and diluted it too much. Then I kept putzing about with it, and it was too dry when I went to hit it with the blender. Eh, I thought, it's a test piece. Fired it again:

 I am not unhappy with it. The matting is too light, the lines irregular and poorly traced (but it was a test piece), and the silver stain uneven. The only actual problem I've noticed is metalling where my silver stain is thicker. It happened once before, as well:


I checked my firing schedule (I'm using schedules from Williams & Byrne), and I noticed that my current schedule only goes to 1040°. Metallizing, as I understand it, normally happens when you fire too hot. RP 1384/Silver Stain, Yellow #3 has a listed firing range of 1050-1080. I'm going to do two more tests this week, firing to 1020° (20° below my current schedule) and 1060° (20° above) to see what the effects are. Viewed directly on the stain is pretty, this may be something I end up having to live with, because I can't image 30 degrees below the listed range is going to make it better, and going higher should make it worse if this is actually metallizing.

(Update, 4/17/13)

I ended up with interesting results. The test piece fired to 1060°, just inside of the manufacturer's listed range, turned out horrifically bad. I went ahead and fired it on a chip with a blue enamel I have plans for, and this was my result:

Horrible metalizing, "yellow mother-of-pearl" as I expected from Williams & Byrne's books, their description of overfired silver stain. It looks horrible in both reflected and transmitted light.

The chip fired to 1020° was relatively the same as 1040°:

Looking straight through it, its functional, but there are some off spots and in reflected light you can see its still not right. Thirty degrees beneath the listed range, and it's still not right? I started to suspect I was firing for too long, then, because surely it couldn't be too hot...

Checked Elskus, seeing what he had to say on the matter. Silver stain, according to him, has a functional range of 950° to 1050°! I'm still on the high end, according to him. Ok, one more chip, at 1000° then.

This picture doesn't do it justice. Beautiful and quite even. I stared at the chip for several minutes, held it up to various lights, placed it on my lightbox. I put it by my computer and picked it up ever few minutes for an hour, staring. 1000° it is, then, and that temperature has been working great for me. As the masters wrote and write, experiment and experiment some more...