Monday, 28 January 2008

Sneaky Beakies and a World of Fakery!

My blogging has gone to pot this week sorry! January has been a bit of a blur generally as business is so slow. It's been quite painful in fact!... Part time work, here I come! I started to get really paranoid that it was just me till I started chatting with a few online friends i've made in various forums. It seems the credit crunch has, well..crunched!

On the plus side I made several contacts as a result of the blog...Hello! I've had various emails...wanting advise on kilns, where to buy stock etc. I've also had a few emails from other

glass makers which is always nice. Nice because my experience with fellow glass crafters has been up to this date frosty to say the least.

I had one accuse me of copying her website.... odd, seeing as mine was older, not made by myself, and, well not rubbish. I can say that as I didn't design it myself.

I had another accuse me of copying her designs. When I say designs I should actually say design to be factually correct. She has one which she repeats and lets just say it is not a work of technical genius.

..The last and most recent didn't actually accuse me of anything as such. Instead, he copy and pasted titles, auction details and then wrote an addendum stating that 'other people might use the same title etc but their work is just an inferior copy'. I'm paraphrasing somewhat as his spelling and grammar is terrible. I'm not exactly Chaucer but he makes Jade Goody sound like a scholar.

The point of this blog is mainly to share my work. To share my passion for dichroic glass and if I can help people along the way that's great. Glass fusing isn't a mystical art and people who protect their work like the holy grail are fooling them selves. Everyone brings something new to the pot, no matter what craft they participate in. You can be inspired by someone's work but imagining you can carbon copy another person's work is just plain foolish.

I've had several people get in touch over the week about dichroic pendants on ebay coming mainly from Hong Kong. These are really one of my bug bares as I can't believe people pay money for such crap. I ended writing a ebay guide to fake dichroic and murano in the end. Check it out...I do tend to go on a bit!

Another reason I've not had much time to blog this week has been that i've been busy trying to set up my etsy shop and adding to my website pieces. I had a big order last week which cleared me out of my fused glass bangles which i've been busy restocking.
Anywho...back soon with some new work and a better mood hopefully!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Inclusions-Mini Tutorial!

Ok, so I meant to do another dichroic glass tutorial blog days ago.....I got sidetracked as ever! Things have been quiet with it being January an all which means I have to work twice as hard to keep up! To be honest a nice job in an art gallery where i'd get to look at pretty things all day seems quite an attractive career chance at the moment but i'm sure that's just the tiredness talking...!
Ok so.... You've started fusing glass. You've obliterated lots, cracked some, got annoying white mark on others, but you've had fun along the way!
When you're making dichroic glass jewellery experimentation is the key. I'm going to list a few of my favourite fusing gimmicks. Inclusions when it comes to fused glass means just what it sounds like... materials fused into the glass. There are lots of thing you can add some will work some will just burn away, but it's always interesting.
Here's the main lot
  • metals
  • powders
  • cubic zirconia

There are several popular choices when it comes to adding metals the mains ones being vanadium, silver, gold and copper. You should buy metals specifically for glass fusing if you want the best results. My favourite to use is copper.

This is a small mock up pendant I made to show the copper.. I use punches designed for card making to give me some nice crisp shapes. The copper won't blunt them, in fact the manufacturers say it will actually sharpen the punch. Copper leaf available from craft stores burns away however i've found that copper tape, the type used by stained glass artists looks good in the glass. One thing you need to remember when using any metal is that the inclusion must not touch the edges of the glass as it's fusing otherwise it'll come out lobsided.

This dichroic fused glass heart, part of my new ETSY shop has delicate gold leaf inclusions. Gold and silver leaf are unpredictable when fused into glass. Silver can burn away but it can also react with dichroic coatings with some beautiful results....try it with purple dichroic on clear-the effect is stunning. Silver wire can be fused directly into glass for bails or earwires. Make sure it's pure silver (999) otherwise it'll discolour. I've also fuses brass wire into glass oxidises and gives off bubbles but I though it looked great!

There are several powders you can fuse into glass. These are used to either promote bubbles, to tint the glass or to give metal sheens. Mica powders can be fused into or on top of your glass for metal looks and come in a variety of shades. There are new bubble effect powders coming onto the market all the time. Delphiglass sells some now too. They look best with transparent glass and can give coloured bubbles. You can also try metal oxides, the type used in ceramics to give interesting effects...specifically copper oxide (black).

In this patterned dichroic pendant i've created the bubbles using good old fashioned sodium bicarbonate (bicarb). I love this effect! It looks like bubble rippling through water! I very carefully sprinkled some half way through the this case I used a bottom layer of dichroic glass and 3, 2mm clear bullseye layers on top. All of these powders need to be used with care. Use in ventilated areas and wear face masks...and remember less is more. If you hear a pop coming from the direction of your've used too much!

Another good thing to use on you fused glass projects is Cubic Zirconia. Use it for a really special highlight. It takes a little more work but looks cool!

On this piece from my dichroic glass website, I fused a cab as normal then used a dremmel tool with a diamond tip to drill a small hole into the top of the piece. The hole should be big enough to allow the cubic zirconia to fit in while you refuse. It doesn't need to be a perfect fit, the glass will hold it in place after the fuse.

I'll try an add a few more images of my experiments as I finish them....
I'll be back soon but my bed is calling! TTFN

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Same old Same old

Just a short one today.... I'm back to work at last so i'm busy, busy, busy!
I'll be adding another tutorial in the next day or so, this time about metals and other things fused into the glass so check back for more.

The images on this blog are from my latest batch out of the kiln today. I've been working with purple dichroic glass a lot as i'm getting quite a few request for it. I love the look of the textured dichroic pendants in purple. They're really's just a shame they don't photograph as well as they look up close.

The other images are pendants from my patchwork dichroic glass pendants...inspired by textiles! I get a lot of quilter after these would you believe!

Since the last few blogs i've recieved a few emails about fashion jewellery, designer jewellery and fused glass jewellery. In particular i've recieved quite a questions about where to find suppliers in the UK. Here's a few bullet points
  • Try for all your fusing supplies. They're cheap, really helpful and offer brilliant service....i'm not on commision I promise but when I come across a great company I think it deserves a mention!
  • Buy Brad Walker's Contemporary Warm Glass...there's a link at the top of the blog. I might be a bit pricey but you'll keep coming back to it time after time...I.still do. It's also packed with images to inspire.
  • Research your kiln!...I'd recommend the Paragon Sc2. There are cheaper kilns but this one has an excellent timer and is programmable....also my one has lasted 4 years now and get used a lot so it's a reliable machine!
  • Don't buy a lot of expensive dichroic till you're confident at both cutting and fusing your glass. Warm-glass offers scrap packs and starter kits to help you get into the swing of things!

Whilst nosing around the internet I came across this excellent blog about jewellery making .. . I spent a little too much time on it so need to go do some work!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Liverpool Capital of Culture Opening

Bit of a break from the dichroic glass jewellery stuff...

Now that i'm back on my feet I decided to venture out to the opening of the Liverpool Capital Of Culture Year...and it was great!

Now, usually i'm the first to scoff the term 'culture' and Liverpool being in the same sentence. Liverpool for too long has relied on the Beatles for it's cultural smarts but finally we're looking beyond the sixties....too be honest I never really 'got' the Beatles. I made the mistake of saying that too loudly in the pub once and was nearly bounced out!

Liverpool at the moment has got a really strong undercurrent of art and art based programs. It's always has a strong showing in literature, music and art which has too long been ignored. The Liverpool Culture Company and city council have put together a good program of events for the year but it's the people that have the creativity. Ok, so in the crowd there was the ever present 'leafy' smell of the an Amsterdam coffee shop but the tens of thousands that turned out to show the support for the city are the real voice. It's just a shame that the Liberal council we have at the moment are so scared of doing anything exciting and truely inspiring, the year was only saved by the late intervention of Phil Redmond.
I was out there in the cold for an hour or so with the multitudes and the show was excellent with guitar playing absailers, light shows and fireworks keeping us warm.

There were 2 decidedly 'dodgy' bits though; like the collection of so-called celebs wheeled out to waved at us like we were commoners to their scouse royalty, and also the truely awful song by Ringo Star which was nearly enough to see my dinner again. Hideous.

Anywho...back very soon!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

This week's top 5's!

Top 5 Starter glass fusing tips!-

1.Never throw your scrap away! Whether it's mishapes, mistake or odds and ends...guaranteed you'll find something exciting to do with it as you grow in confidence!

2. Don't try fusing your picture frames! Remember COE, you can't just fuse any old glass. You must fuse like for like, ie 90COE, 104COE...whilst small explosion in your kiln can be exciting they can arrouse suspition amongth your neighbours.

3. Just because you want to be thin, doesn't mean your fused glass wants to be! Fused glass naturally wants to be around 6mm thick so fusing glass thicker than this will cause your project to spread over your kiln shelf, fusing projects thinner than 6mm will cause the project to contract into the centre of the piece...and like me, it's not pretty.

4. Chill out and stop rushing! Don't try and be smart and try and belt out pieces like a demented chicken. Firing your pieces as fast as possible then flinging the kiln door open is not to be advised! Smaller pieces can be fired quickly and cool quickly but you do run the risk of cracks appearing as you're cutting out the annealing part of the firing were the glass gets it's the glass will probably be full of bubbles.

5. Cooking the books. Just because you're got a kiln doesn't mean you can do every fused glass project! Some kilns have the heating element at the top, some around the sides, some have the element on the back wall. Making fused glass bangles for example requires the heating element to be around the sides of the kiln...this is because you need to work in the kiln when it's hot. A top heating element would chargrill you as you work. Do a bit of research!

Top 5 thing's I wish I knew before I started glass fusing

1. That i'd need either 1, to buy elastoplasts in bulk, 2, shares in elastoplast...cut glass is sharp, duh!

2. That I'd need to explain what glass fusing is at least once a day and make the answer short as the glazed expression on the enquirer's face sets in at 3.1 secs

3. That friends and family can start to lose patience when they constantly walk on shards of broken glass....but what is this, Middle Earth?...put some damn shoes on!

4. That scrapbooking is a far more popular craft and easier to put away when you're done..although some scrapbookers are a's the photo album!

5. That i'm not a charity despite my the best efforts of others...stopping making that face when you see a pile of glass jewellery, i'm not Daddy Warbucks you're not going to warm my heart!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Glasskanvas on youtube

Good news folks...the medication is starting to work and i'll soon be back fusing....which is good because i've had a few orders on my website this past few days so I desperately need to restock! I learned how to use youtube yeh!...A small victory I know, but hey there are always stepping stones to greatness....or in my case adequecy.
Here's my youtube vid!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Dichroic Fused Glass 'Flower' Pendant How-to

I'm still not well enough to get out and about...or get back to the glass fusing. Despite the emails i've recieved since my last blog...I do not have man-flu! .. and when I did I can honestly say without over dramatising that it was a million times worse than a cold, honest...*sniffs*.

Anyway, since I can't go out I've decided to do another tutorial. This time a simple dichroic glass flower pendant. These will soon be available on my website with my other dichroic glass pendants. Don't forget that i'm having new year sale on my ebay site too!

Anyways.. To start off we need to make 6 small cabs for the centre of the flower and the five petals. I tend to use cm's when cutting to size so I cut 6, 1cm square pieces of dichroic glass. I use 2mm fusing glass so to give each cab a nice rounded look I add 2 layers of clear fusing glass on top of it...again 1cm square.

Because i'm adding 2 layers of clear on top I don't really need to add the 2mm overlap I'd need if I was making a larger item. The dichroic shouldn't seep out. Also...If I was making a finished cab for mounting etc, I'd add another layer of clear to give it a bit more depth. Because this is going to be refired it's best to keep it relatively small. Fire to a full fuse.

Here's the fired cabs. Although you can't tell from the pic, there's 2 pink and one silver, all the same size.

The next thing to do is assemble the piece together on the kiln shelf. The cabs should be of the same size to prevent the glass becoming lob-sided whilst firing and care should be given to make sure the outside cabs are evenly parted and are touching the central cab. If the outside cabs are too close to each other they'll fuse together. They must touch the central one also otherwise they'll fuse separately. I don't use glue. Just say a little prayer and don't get shakey as you put them into the kiln and i'm sure they'll come out right.Refire to a full fuse.

Here's a few of the finished pieces. I made a few. Remember if you want a smaller pendant you need to scale the sizing down evenly- ie, the larger flower pendant is made from 1cm square cabs, the smaller from 1/2 cm cabs. If you're really clever you can do even smaller ones for earrings...too be honest I lack the patience at the moment because of my man flu....erm virus, whatever!

I'm sure I've left glaring holes in my howto's but feel free to let me know if I have!

On my next post i'll put together some golden rules for glass fusing so check back.

...on a completely different note. I got a mention on another website... And here's the link...

This is a really great resource for any crafter so check it out...I spent way too much time on it today in between doses of antivirals. *coughs*.

Another great link for crafters is . It has a weekly podcast on crafting...probably the best i've come across and it's great for picking up's kind of like Oprah but with glue and sticky-back plastic. Enjoy!


Friday, 4 January 2008

Basic Dichroic Glass Tutorial

Ok....some i'm housebound and i'm exceedingly bored so i'm going to do a basic dichroic glass fusing tutorial!
To start off the tutorials i'm doing the simplest type of dichroic glass pendant-The patterned dichroic glass pendant ...there are many tricks and tweeks you so can throw in but I'll add those in later tutorials.
To start of....Tools! You'll need ....A glass cutter and breaking shears, glass fusing glue...and shelf primer or fusing paper

I use a Toyo glass's oil filled to give you clean cut and it stays sharp. There's a few styles available if you prefer a different grip.

Glass fusing glue is important to keep your work in position before firing it. The best type is either glastac or elmer's fusing glue...When I started I did use PVA!...To be perfectly honest provided you use a very very small amount PVA is ok in an emergency. As the glue burns off it can react with the glass leaving marks though so it's best to stick with purpose made glues.

Shelf primer is a powder that you mix with water to line the kiln shelf before it goes into the kiln. It stops the glass sticking to the shelf as the glass melts. I tend to prefer to use shelf paper's less fuss and the underside of the glass usually comes out a lot smoother. When using either of these you must treat them with care. Use them with a dustmask and be careful not to breath in the dust.

When deciding which glass to use in your fusing project the key thing to bare in mind is compatibility! When you see fusing glass for sale you'll see COE next to the title...90COE, 104COE etc etc. YOU MUST ONLY FUSE GLASS OF THE SAME COE!...if you try and mix them up they'll only shatter as the glass cools...which is not good! I use all 90COE.

Dichroic Glass comes in 2 types...on clear or on black. You'll get slighly different results for the pattern depending on which type you use. I tend to prefer 'on clear' as it gives the piece more depth and it's more versatile-it can be layered on top of another piece of dichroic glass.

I cut the dichroic glass to shape...i'm using 2 layers of dichroic glass so I cut them to exactly the same size. Cutting glass can be tricky to start with. Cut standing up and only go over the cut once. Don't keep cutting at the same line because all it'll do will splinter the glass and blunt the cutter. You must remember IF YOU'RE USING MORE THAN ONE LAYER OF DICHROIC GLASS THE COATED SIDES OF THE GLASS MUSTN'T TOUCH EACH OTHER WHILE THEY'RE BEING FIRED. They won't fuse properly and you'll just end up with a lumpen mess!

I layer the glass on top of each other and fix into place with a small amount of glue. I then add a clear top layer of glass...again with the same COE. This must be a few mm's bigger than the bottom layer or the dichroic coating will seep out. I add an extra clear piece of glass of the same size as the bottom layers to give the finished pendant more depth.

Here's the unfused pieces in my dinky little kiln...i've been too poorly to do any more than these!

Kiln firing scheduales are available online. They can vary considerably as can the temps of each kiln so it's best to test fire a few times. A general rule of thumb with dichroic glass is that it doesn't like temperatures over 8100c...I try and not fire over 800. and I fire over a 1 1/2 -3 hour period so the glass doesn't heat up or cool down too quickly and make the glass rough or firing scheduales!
And here's the finished piece!
This is a very rough guide to dichroic glass fusing and i'm sure i've missed things out but drop me a line if there's something you're not sure on!

I'll do more complex guides soon but you can check out my dichroic glass jewellery here.

I would add that if you're serious about starting to glass fuse Brad Walker's Contemporary Warmglass is an invaluable tool...I still refer to it!

All equiptment used here is available from .....I don't get commision from them honestly!..They really are an excellent, knowledgable company...very good value too!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

wwhoohaaa! Happy New Year

Happy New Year Folks!

I'm writing this from my bed as i'm poorly, poorly sick...boohoo! I've not be able to do much glass fusing work at all this past week so my new years gotten off to a very slow start indeed.I was stuck indoors for the 12oclock peel of the bells to celebrate Liverpool's Capital of Culture status...perhaps it was a good thing!'s a few new pieces I was able to add today....remotely!

I love the shape of these..they're a delicate shape but a bit unusual!

These icon glass pendants are really cute...very deep too so you find yourself starring at them.
On the plus side of the whole 'confined to my bed' thing, i've come up with a few designs that i'm going to get started in a day or so...think magic eye pictures! I've also become addicted to 'stumble upon''s my favourite gem of today
Anyway...back soon and hopefully I'll have something useful to say!