Monday, March 27, 2017

Two Mistakes: Hamsa

I had the idea to make a Hamsa. The idea persisted, and turned into a large flop. So, I remade it. Which turned into a second flop.

Enamels are difficult.

I ended up making nearly the same design, but pieced. I was mad and determined, at that point.  I started with a design I found online; I found it on several websites, in several ways and places. I couldn't determine an original creator, etc and chalked it up to a generic cultural motif. Having learned much from Estelle's scroll, I thought I planned it well. I used the more stable blue, and skipped the idea of using silver stain.

Attempt 1, I painted on the black line work, then added a mat of blue enamel. In the past, again for one of Estelle's badges, I got a phenomenal sapphire blue right off the bat. That gave me incorrect assumptions about how easy it can be to use!

This happened over a year ago, and Facebook isn't helping me work out the order. I know at one point I discovered I had two different blues on hand, with no recollection of the opaque one. So much so that I went back and found the order and made sure I had consciously ordered it (which I had).

The next piece, I kept adding blue trying to get the Sapphire hue I wanted. After a few coats the enamel turned opaque and off-color, a grayish tone to it. I still don't know why, but I decided I needed to get it right from the start.

The next attempt, after doing the line work and the enamel I decided I wanted to shade the background and went back, to add more black mat. That tanked the whole piece as well, as shown below.

Ugly and wrong color, above!

 My "mistake" in going back to vitreous paint. Guess blue enamel isn't as stable as I thought.

A closeup of the weirdness that ensued. I suppose too many layers of enamel flattened out and blurred the black lines beneath, like layers of glass can displace one another when fusing.

The final piece I successfully made and framed, to get a Hamsa out of my mind. I've not included a picture of the pattern to retain my blog's G-rating, as each piece was named with a different profanity, instead of the customary numbers or symbols.

The bottom right corner was 'bullsh*t' if I recall. It was easy to cut, that was just it's nickname.

Lessons Learned:

  • Be sure you are using the glass paint you think you are using!
  • Blue enamels are also touchy. All enamels are semi-evil.
  • Weird things can happen if you apply them too thickly (?) or fire them too many times
  • It looks like many layers can displace one another between firings.

Glass and Gold and Gilding

I've signed up for a couple of mosaic classes in April and May. It reminded me I wanted to try my hand at making Byzantine-style tesserae, and then a friend's Facebook post kicked me into high gear. She had much better success than I did and shared some of her wisdom. My test piece:

Two pieces of clear fusible (Bullseye CoE 90 Tekta clear) with one layer of gold foil sandwiched

Rhode Kephalaina let me know in her sample chips, marked 1 and 2, thats the sheets of foil. So, chip '1' has four layers approximately, and '2' with 8. My samples above are 4" square, not 1", and had one layer. It's not exactly ugly! It's just not the beautiful gold glass expected. The nicer parts of mine are where the foil doubled on itself (see Lessons learned, below...) I know now to fix it, though, thanks to a conversation with Rhode.

Ive also fallen for verre églomisé. Predating Rome, pretty much, this art (gilding glass and painting the back black) was practiced through the Roman period into modernity. It gets its name from an art collector 200 years named Glomy. It turns out it's not super difficult!

Sorry it's sideways. I can't quite remember how the technique entered my awareness, either through researching mosaics or mirroring. A little gelatin, some gold leaf, and some glass. A fine needle to scratch it up, and black paint. I'm going to teach a class on it at Pennsic this summer, which is exciting to me. I've tried a few types of leaf, a few tools to transfer it to the size, and will be picking up a second (larger) gilder's tip this week. It's beautiful to look at and I'm excited to see how I can integrate it into stained glass and mosaic work.

Probably To Be Continued...

Lessons Learned:

  • Transfer foil is a lot better to work with for verre églomisé.
  • Tiny creases are almost unavoidable with loose leaf, but the gelatin size flattens them out as it dries. The end result isn't perfect but it is much better than what you start with.
  • TURN OFF YOUR CEILING FAN. Many people remark that gilding can be done at your kitchen table, and they are quite right. But when you bought a book of loose gold leaf and have the fan on medium, you are going to make a kaleidoscope of tears and gold for a moment. 
  • Making Roman Gold, as Rhode is trying, or Byzantine Tesserae as I am, costs a bit! The leaf is not terribly cheap, though you can find it reasonably. She speculates gold foil, not leaf, would work better but it runs $75/5 sheets. 
  • Don't use imitation gold. I did this before a year or two ago, without entirely realizing. It was an aluminum-based product, I believe. It turned horrible colors and crinkled up under the glass. 
  • I wondered at using silver to do this. I'm told it can work, but my experience with silver stain says it certainly cannot. Ken Leap's book shows an example of firing a piece of solid leaf, and it made a dark amber stain at just slightly higher temperatures than I use to fuse. Further, I've used ground silver leaf in a period formula at much lower temperatures, and it made a light lemon yellow. I'd think 'silver' would necessarily be platinum leaf, which I have not priced or looked at.