The agony and the ecstasy ... and the agony and the ecstasy ... and ... October 12 2014 1 Comment

Glass fusing over the last couple of weeks has been a roller coaster. 

I have been working on fused glass vases to be displayed in metal stands. After my first firing, I thought I had a simple problem to solve: the vase emerged from the kiln a fraction of an inch too wide for the stand I intended to use. But, that was only the beginning. 

The second vase brought the onset of agony. A 12" round piece, I was sure it would be stunning. But when I opened the kiln the next morning, I found the components blown completely apart. Yet I thought I knew what had gone wrong. I adjusted the firing schedule and tried again. 

Another vase, another carefully thought out design, blew apart much like number two. Depression was starting to settle in. 

My fourth vase was lovely -- except it was too small for the stand. Still, I felt confident that I had fixed the issue of vases blowing apart inside the kiln. I selected my most expensive piece of glass for a large 12" square vase. I created a bird motif in contrasting colours, and carefully put it in the kiln. 

The next day - agony - again. Ruined. Sigh. Time to go see my glass guru, Mike at Fantasy in Glass. Mike examined the remains of these accumulating failures and studied my notes on the different firing schedules I had used, and proposed some adjustments. 

Vase number six was a beauty. I took it out of the kiln, placed it in the stand and it fit. Ecstasy! I actually did a little dance in the privacy of my studio.

Fifteen minutes later I heard a big crack. My elegant, delightful design had shattered and lay in pieces on the table. Not only that, one of the big chunks landed on one of my platters and chipped it as well. Agony. 

Another consult with my glass guru. Another adjustment to the firing schedule, and number 7 was the charm. No dance this time. Now in week three, I was too emotionally drained for ecstasy. But I did enjoy the quiet satisfaction of a beautiful result.

Size, thickness, colour, desired finish all affect the firing schedule. To create a vase, I insert fibre board between the sheets of glass where I want the opening that will hold the flowers. The fibre board creates a temperature difference in the sheets of glass. Managing that temperature difference is the key. Finding the precise, slower schedule to keep all the glass parts at the same temperature is crucial. Sounds simple. Turns out, not - at least not for me, at least not yet. 

The problem seems to be solved, at least until my next grandiose idea has me climbing back on the roller coaster again. 

These pictures are of the failed vases. Next week I’ll post the successes after they have their beauty shots. 


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