Tempered (sometimes called safety) glass is designed to break into small pieces, minimizing the danger of getting cut. When buying a piece of glass at a thrift store or finding scrap at a yard sale, it can be difficult to tell if the glass is tempered. This video shows an easy way to use two pieces of polarized film and a light source to determine if the glass is tempered.
After years of having kilns in the house (in the mudroom, the dining room, and even the kitchen), cutting glass on the dining room table (do people still eat dinner at dining room tables?), storing glass and coldworking equipment on the wrap-around porch, the Squirrel finally has a dedicated and permanent nest!
Carolina Custom Builders provided expert contracting and building services, and other than a few weather delays the building went up quickly. Lots of space in the 22 x 30 workshop for everything (and room to grow. Squirrels can always use another kiln). Electric installation should start next week, then insulation and sheet rock, and we’ll be ready to move in. Stay tuned for more pictures of the inside. Until then, enjoy watching this fast-paced construction of the new studio (4:43).
Mark discusses his process, inspiration, and work at this artist talk presented on February 16, 2018 at the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, NC.
Want to keep your sharpie line in place when grinding or cutting glass on a wet saw? Not sure what to use? This video gives you a low cost alternative.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
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)
Cans of potted meats and tuna
Boxes of raisins
Bottles of water
A bar of soap
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!
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.
A short little time lapse video of the CDCG show from booth K2. Notice the camera in the background over my right shoulder?
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.
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
Here’s a link to the blog about my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.
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.
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:
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.
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!
I find cutting strips of glass to be very meditative. I don't know if it's the sound the glass makes when being scored, or if it's the repetitious and almost mechanical nature of the task, but I like it! There are many ways to cut your strips and the way I do it might not be right for you, but these tips have worked for me.
Tools that you'll need are:
- Ruler or favorite measuring device
- Sharpie or some type of marking device
- Straight edge
- Glass cutter
- Running pliers
Before I found the Morton Glass Works Portable Glass Shop I simply measured the glass, lined up a straight edge, scored the glass, and then ran the score by hand if the glass was large enough, or with running pliers if it was too thin. Now I use the Morton system every time I cut strips. It allows me to measure accurately, and score perfectly straight lines.
First I decide the width I will need for my strips and that determines how much glass I'm going to need. Let's say I decide to make my strips 1/4" wide and that my project is a simple 2 color 8" x 8" plate. I'll need two 8" x 8" sheets of glass.
Tip 1: I use only Bullseye glass (you can probably ignore this tip if you use something else). Because the edges of Bullseye are, well, let's call them "organic", they aren't of equal thickness and it's difficult to measure a straight line. I like to trim off the organic edges and use them in other projects like pot melts or screen melts.
Tip 2: When breaking a score, glass wants to follow the path of least resistance. If you're trying to cut a 1/4" strip from a 3" wide piece of glass, more often than not the glass won't follow the score line and it will break far short of the end, running away from the score line towards the thinner less resistant path. I've found that by cutting my glass in half at each step, my strip cutting is much more successful. With an 8" x 8" piece I'll make my first cut at the middle at 4" leaving me with 2 pieces of glass. The next cut will be at 2" leaving 4 pieces of glass. Then at 1", 1/2" and finally 1/4".
Tip 3: When the glass is starting to get down to about 1" or less in width, run your cuts gently and don't be afraid to take your time and run from both ends. Line up your score with your running pliers, making sure that the guide line on your pliers is aimed straight down on the score line, and gently squeeze. I don't try to run the score all at once. If it happens to work out that way all the better but I squeeze just enough to get the run started, then turn the glass around and finish the run from the other end.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.