How to Remove a Frozen Grinder Bit

I used to have trouble removing frozen grinder bits from my Wizard glass grinder. The manufacturer had a great suggestion to drill out the stuck screw and remove the head with a faucet puller, which you can find at your local hardware store in the plumbing section. The tip was very helpful but I found it a little confusing. We hope this video helps you understand how to use this tool!

Win Two Free Tickets to the Carolina Artisan Craft Market in Raleigh, NC this Weekend Nov. 6-8

I'm giving away two FREE day passes to the Carolina Artisan Craft Market! To enter the contest, please answer this question in the comments: "Why do I love craft?" I'll draw a winner at random on Thursday 11/5/15 at 7:00 pm and will announce later on my Screaming Squirrel Facebook page at 10:00 pm. Your tickets will be available at Will Call at the Concierge Table, Exhibit Hall B Lobby in the Raleigh Convention Center.

Visit the Squirrel November 6-8, 2015 in Raiegh, NC

Screaming Squirrel Glass will be in booth B-2 at the Carolina Artisan Craft Market presented by the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild.

This is the 46th annual event but this year there is a new date and location. Instead of Thanksgiving weekend at the NC Fairgrounds, the event will take place the first weekend in November (6-8) at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Meet over 110 artists, enjoy artists demonstrations and live music, and get an earlier start on holiday shopping.

Visit carolinadesignercraftsmen.com for more information and to view the list of artists who will be exhibiting.

Mark at the 2014 CDCG show.

Mark at the 2014 CDCG show.

A New Place to Visit the Squirrel!

A new place to visit the squirrel!

Screaming Squirrel Glass may now be found in Wilmington, NC at Spectrum Art & Jewelry Gallery (1125-H Military Cutoff Rd, near Landfall). Visit now to see dichroic pendants, and visit again in August to see larger pieces. The Squirrel is looking forward to frequent trips to the beach to replenish the stock.

My Featured Artist Show is Up!

Today was installation day for the Featured Artist Show “Not Alone” at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts and the show looks great! The opening reception is Friday June 26th 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm.

Visit my home page to preview some of the work that will be on display through July 26, 2015. 

The gallery is open 7 days a week, and I'll be working Thursday June 25th 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, Thursday July 2nd 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, Friday July 3rd 10:00 am - 1:30 pm, and Monday July 13th 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Stop in and visit!

I Melt Bottles!

I Melt Bottles! 

There. I said it. And I’m not embarrassed by it at all.

I’ve been told by more than one glass artist that there is no art in melting bottles, and that melted bottles aren’t art or worthy of a glass artist’s time. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.

This post isn’t a tutorial on how to melt bottles; it’s an explanation of why you should melt bottles.

Melting bottles can help you learn how to program your kiln and create your own schedules. It can teach you how glass behaves at different temperatures; the benefits of kiln wash and fiber paper, especially if you’re melting bottles with painted surfaces.  Bottles can be melted flat, melted partially standing to make Daliesque sculptures or vases, or even broken into pieces then cast.

One advantage of melting bottles is the low materials cost, and you can drink the contents. Bonus! Bottles come in all shapes and colors and can be purchased almost anywhere. You don’t need a wholesale account, aren’t restricted by 9–5 retail hours, and don’t need a warehouse or loading dock to receive or store them.

When I first started fusing glass, I thought it was fun to melt bottles and they sold well at $20 each (and still do).

Admittedly, $20 isn’t a lot of money but it’s perfect for what we do with the proceeds. You see, we don’t melt bottles for profit; we melt them to be able to help those less fortunate. For $20 we can buy a used backpack from a thrift store, fill it with some essentials, and give the full backpack to a homeless person.

Let me breakdown the contents:

Contents ready to be packed into two backpacks.

Contents ready to be packed into two backpacks.

Backpacks ready to go.

Backpacks ready to go.

Used Backpack from a thrift store in good shape (a new one is a target for theft)
A hat and gloves and maybe a scarf (also from a thrift store)
Peanut butter
Crackers
Cans of potted meats and tuna
Juice boxes
Boxes of raisins
Bottles of water
Granola bars
Applesauce
Toilet paper
Personal wipes
A bar of soap
Razor
Deodorant
Kleenex
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Hairbrush or comb
A small first aid kit

 So don’t be afraid to melt bottles, and certainly don’t be bullied by some “Artist” who says it’s not art or there’s no value in it. It has value for those that benefit. Remember: it’s your kiln, do what you want to with it! 

Hacking a Morton system to cut strips of glass

Hack your Morton Cutting System to cut strips faster! It's no secret that I love strip construction projects. What you may not know is that it used to take me hours to cut strips using my Morton System. Don't get me wrong, I love my Morton System. It gives me a nice straight and accurate cut just about every time. It just takes a long time to cut a large pile of 1/4 " or 3/8" strips because I have to measure and set up the system for every half cut. It's time consuming. 

I kept thinking that there must be a better way to cut strips using the system that I already have. That thought just rolled around in my old (and getting older) brain for a long time. Then one day I had an AHA! moment and "P00F" I hacked my Morton System and am now able to cut strips in no time at all. How much faster is it than the old way? It would have taken me more than an hour to cut 30 1/4" x 10" long strips and I can now do that many in about 10 minutes. Yes that's right. 10!

I'll bet you're just itching to see how it's done so you can speed up your cutting, too! Just click on the video below and I'll show you 2 different ways!

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit Screams of the Squirrel and if you have any suggestions or comments please post them below. 

Screaming Squirrel Glass featured on NC Arts website

One of the Screaming Squirrel Glass coral bowls is featured on the NC Arts Everyday website in an announcement about this weekend's Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild show. Come on out to booth K-2  and say Hi! Visit the site to learn more about other exciting art events in North Carolina. 

http://ncartseveryday.org/2014/11/artful-holidays-2014/


Thanksgiving Weekend 45th Annual Fine Designer Crafts Show

Join me November 28-30, 2014 in Raleigh, NC at the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild show. I'll be showing new work in booth K2. Here's a glimpse of what you'll see:

Friday 4-7 pm (preview show for Friends of the Guild)

Open to the public: Friday 7 pm - 9 pm 
                                 Saturday 10 am - 6 pm
                                 Sunday 11 am - 5pm

New Blog Article for Hillsborough Gallery Of Arts

Here’s a link to the blog about my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

http://hillsboroughgallery.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/discoveries-4/

If you haven’t had a chance to see Discoveries, please stop by the gallery. It will be on display until Saturday 10/25/14.

First Featured Artist Show!

This past Friday I had my first Featured Artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. It was a fabulous evening with a great turn out! I was able to spend time with family and old friends, and made some new friends. 

We put together a little video (no sound) showing how I create come of my works. We loaded it to a little digital frame that will run for the duration of the show, which is up until 10/26/14. You can stop by the gallery to see the show and the video, or if you can't make it to the gallery you can see it here:

 


New Shows

My new mantra is "submit, submit, submit!" I'm applying and being accepted to international and local juried shows.

A few weeks ago I applied to the Contemporary Glass Society  'OUT OF TOWN' - OPEN USA call for artists. Just yesterday I found out that I was selected along with 43 other US artists for the online show. The show can be viewed here: http://cgs.org.uk/exhibitions/out-town-open-usa-44-american-glass-artists 

I also applied to a call for artists from the Yadkin Arts Council "Eye of the Artist 4th Annual Show: Happiness is..."  and was selected for that show as well. The show runs from 7/11/14 to 8/29/14. If you're in the area stop on by the Welborn Gallery, Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, 226 E. Main Street Yadkinville, NC.

Finding the Center of a Circle

If you're at all like me, you get all worked up about an idea and want to jump straight into creating it. I've been known to get up in the middle of the night and head down to the studio to work on an idea that I dreamed about or that was keeping me awake, It's times like these when I just start working and forget little things like centering my circular pattern on a square of thin fire paper so I can easily find the center to start creating my piece. 

That's why I've created this quick tutorial on finding the center of a circle. It's a really simple process using any right angle and a pen or pencil. Draw a couple of marks and a couple of straight lines and "voila!" you're ready to get back to creating!


Prepping your kiln shelf

I use either Bullseye Shelf Primer or Primo Primer Kiln Wash depending on the project. Each is applied differently.  

Bullseye or Primo?

Why Bullseye or Primo? Well, I'm glad that you asked! The two products behave very differently. Primo goes on very wet and with puddles, which lends itself to a nice smooth surface. I use Primo when I don't want texture on the glass surface that has been in contact with the kiln shelf. It won't be perfect, but it'll be pretty smooth. Primo is fire once and re-apply. It cleans up easily, but you have to clean the shelf after every use.

Bullseye is a bit easier to mix, store, and apply. If you want a smooth kiln shelf you can always smooth it out after it dries with your hand or an old wadded up pair of pantyhose. I use Bullseye when I plan on cold working the surface, or when I'm applying 20 coats in preparation for a screen melt or pot melt. Many glass artists will apply kiln wash to an already-fired shelf and keep on trucking, not /scraping cleaning the shelves between firings. 

Safety

Let's talk safety before we get started.

Kiln wash in its powder form is bad for your lungs, eyes, and is very drying to the skin. I always wear a respirator, gloves, and goggles when removing old kiln wash, mixing kiln wash, and when I'm applying it to the shelf. 

Bullseye shelf primer

When I use the Bullseye shelf primer I follow their instructions for mixing and applying the kiln wash. I mix 1 part kiln wash powder to 5 parts water in an old mason jar with a lid and mix well. I apply it with a Haike brush and dry in between coats with a hair dryer. If it's sunny and warm outside, I'll set the shelves up in the sun and let the sun warm and dry in between coats (as in this video).

I also apply in a different direction with each coat. I start in the corner and follow this pattern:

1 - ↑,  2 - →, 3 -↓, 4 - ← and 5 - /, allowing each coat to dry to the touch.

The Bullseye primer dries with a pink tint so you'll know that it hasn't been fired. After firing it turns white. 

Primo Primer kiln wash

Primo is a different animal. I try to mix just what I'll use at the time I need it because the powder settles quickly and can be hard to mix up again. I use the same ratio as the Bullseye: 1 part Primo Primer powder to 5 parts water.

Ikea Tool

Ikea Tool

I found a neat whisk in the kitchen supplies area at IKEA. The plastic beads at the ends of the wires are great for getting the goop at the bottom of the jar moving again.

I follow the same application pattern as the Bullseye: 1 - ↑,  2 - →, 3 -↓, 4 - ← and 5 - /,  but instead of allowing the application to  air dry, I use a hand-held hair dryer to gently dry it. The Primo goes on purple and fires white. 

I like to prep my kiln shelves every time that I fire the kiln. It's just my personal preference. It's one potential issue that I can eliminate. Remove old kiln wash easily with one of those green Scotchbrite scrubby things, then re-coat as described above.

Screen Melt — Part 2

We lost power due to an ice storm during the early morning hours of the second firing on Friday. Fortunately the kiln had already gone through its anneal stage and was cooling to room temperature! I let the kiln sit until we got our power back on Sunday. No worries about shocking the glass after 2 days in a cold kiln.

The top of the screen melt did exactly what I wanted it to do, which was smooth out. No spikes left and a nice smooth surface with no devit.

After the second firing, note the nice smooth finish and no spikes.

After the second firing, note the nice smooth finish and no spikes.

The bottom, as expected, had kiln wash stuck to it. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the bottom of the glass before I cleaned it up. I did get a picture of the kiln shelf tough.

Where you see pink kiln shelf is where the kiln wash stuck to the glass.

Where you see pink kiln shelf is where the kiln wash stuck to the glass.

I like to give the edges a quick grind on the Wizard grinder to knock off any sharp spots and reduce the risk of getting cut when I'm handling the screen melt.

To remove the kiln wash from the bottom of the screen melt I used wet/dry sand paper, a water bucket to work in, and a little elbow grease. It took less than 10 minutes to clean it up. When I get ready to use the screen melt I'll probably hit the bottom with some silicone carbide and some wet/dry sand paper, just to be sure there is no kiln wash left. 

The bottom of the screen melt after using just wet/dry sand paper.

The bottom of the screen melt after using just wet/dry sand paper.



Screen Melt — Part 1

Thanks for stopping by. This is the first Scream of the Squirrel! I've decided to use a blog format to post tutorials and other information about Screaming Squirrel Glass on a regular basis. I hope that you find it useful.

I spent a few days sorting scrap glass by color and decided to make a screen melt. I'm using the Paragon CS-16S kiln, Bullseye Kiln Wash, Bullseye fusible glass, 12 x 12 inch stainless steel screen (prefired to 1200° to remove the oils and things left behind when it was processed), cut up kiln shelves as dams, and 1/8 inch ceramic fiber for the containment area.

First, I applied 20 - 25 coats of kiln wash to the kiln shelf and let it dry for a few days. When it was good and dry I built a 10 x 12 inch containment area out of cut up mullite kiln shelves and lined it with 1/8 inch ceramic fiber paper. The stainless steel screen is set on top.

I calculated that I would take about 2000 grams of glass to properly fill the area and have the glass about 5/8 to 3/4 inches thick. I used 800 grams each of blue and white and 200 grams of clear. 

For this project I put a layer of blue, then white, then clear, and then filled in the empty spaces until I had used up all of my glass. 

Glass selected, weighed and stacked.

Glass selected, weighed and stacked.

Now to figure out a firing schedule. Since the glass was pretty close to the elements in the top of the kiln I needed to ramp slowly. I calculate my schedule in Fahrenheit. 

150 DPH to 1000° no hold

500 DPH to 1625° 90 minute hold (so most of the glass will flow through the screen)

AFAP to 1500° 30 minute hold (to help remaining glass clear the screen and let the bubbles out)

AFAP to 900° for 2hrs

27 DPH to 800 no hold 

50 DPH to 700 no hold

162 DPH to room temp

I've learned from past mistakes to not open the kiln during the firing or cooling. Have you ever tried it, only to hear that tell-tale "ping" of cracking glass?

 

After the firing. The kiln is at 67° for more than 24 hours.

After the firing. The kiln is at 67° for more than 24 hours.

When I first opened the kiln I wasn't too impressed with the results. All the glass had melted and it looked scuzzy on top.

Kind of disappointing looking isn't it? Notice the big spike?  

Kind of disappointing looking isn't it? Notice the big spike?

 

 

After taking off the screen and carefully picking up any big pieces of glass, I broke out the shop vac and gave it a good Hoovering (the kiln was off and unplugged!) The reveal was pretty cool!

The screen melt after the vacuuming. I'm happy so far!

The screen melt after the vacuuming. I'm happy so far!

There are still spikes on the top of the glass so tonight I have it back in the kiln to smooth everything out. I'm pretty conservative with my annealing and cool down schedules. The schedule for this firing is: 

200 DPH to 1100 hold 10 minutes

600 DPH to 1500 hold 30 minutes

AFAP to 900° hold 2hrs

27 DPH to 800° no hold 

49 DPH to 700° no hold 

162 DPH to 70°

Off

I'll post the next steps and pictures of the final slab in the next few days.