Anyhoo. In the absence of anything finished to show you (plenty started, nothing completed as yet) I thought I'd share some of the photos I took when I attended a Fused Glass workshop back in February.
I was given a voucher for the workshop for Christmas by my friend. "Thanks!" I said, "Brilliant!" I cried. And wondered what on earth fused glass was and how to do it. A few weeks later I phoned to book my session with Namrata of Montages (www.montages.co.uk). Namrata said she'd send me some information via email, and I went off for a nosy on the interweb.
The bumpf about the workshop arrived by email as promised. I had to think about 3 designs - for a small coaster, a small dish, and a pendant - prior to the day itself. Now, I'd been on a stained glass thing a few years ago, rocked up with zero ideas and panicked for most of the session because my mind went blank. So I definitely wanted to be prepared this time. Namrata's email included a sheet to print off with templates for the 3 items. Each piece should only be straight lines and 3-4 colours each. I jumped on Pinterest and got looooooads of ideas.
For the coaster, and the dish, as a good hooker, I decided to go for - what else - a granny square effect. Basically a series of small squares. Nice straight edges. The pendant proved a bit harder but I kept coming back to a mini-beach scene I'd spotted on Pinterest, so I decided to go for something similar for my pendant.
On the day of the workshop I was really hoping that I wouldn't turn up and be billy-no-mates sitting in a group of others that all knew each other, but it was even better than I could have hoped - I arrived to find that one of the others was a lady (girl?) with whom I'd worked 18 years ago. She was there with her 15 year old twin daughters :) We felt very old. Long gone are the days of hitting the pub after work on a Friday......
Namrata gave us a run-down of what to do, and then let us loose with the glass and equipment.
To cut a piece of glass you first have to score it along a ruler with a scoring device.
Then you use a pair of snipper things and squeeze the glass where you scored it.
It just goes "snap" and breaks with a nice straight(ish) edge.
And so you go on, scoring and snapping, until you have enough pieces of roughly the correct size for your design.
If any edges need a bit of fine-tuning you use a small grinder. No photos of that though, its really hard to hold a piece of glass against a grinder whilst taking a photo of yourself doing it. At least its hard to do it without losing a fingertip. Don't worry, mine are all still intact.
You can add details onto the design with copper sheet, and can use a regular craft stamp, or just scissors, to cut the copper.
I decided to add a few hearts to my dish. The copper sheet has an adhesive side so you can position it on your design and it stays put.
I also wanted a little boat on my beach-scene pendant.
Cute, eh? I was quite pleased with that :)
Once you are happy with your design you go and lay it out on the kiln bed.
Most of the glass is what-you-get-is-what-you-see. So you fire green glass in the kiln, it comes out green. Blue comes out blue. And so on. There were a few exceptions which Namrata explained. Also the black piece in my beach scene is a powdery substance which, when fired, turns into a sort of bright blue bubbly effect. I'd decided to use that for the "sea" layer of my beach scene"
Once your designs are laid out on the kiln, you lay a piece of glass, which Namrata had pre-cut for us, over the top. The basic idea is that when the pieces are fired in the kiln, the kiln heats up the glass enough to just go a bit blobby or gooey, so the individual pieces sort of blob together. The clear glass over the top just sort of blobs over the edges to give a nice clear and smooth cover to the whole piece. That's my admittedly non-technical explanation of how I think it works.
We all left our pieces with Namrata to be fired, and I popped along later in the week to pick up my finished items.
The pendant didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. The blue I used for the sky came our purple. Ah. That was one of the exceptions then. The black powdery bit was darker than I hoped. I might have been a bit heavy handed with the powder, or maybe it looks dark next to the purple. Not sure. But despite it being slightly different to what I expected, I do still like it, its kind of sweet :)
To make the dish curve out like it does, I think Namrata must lift the dish piece (which starts off flat as shown earlier) and drape it upside-down over some kind of stand so it drapes down as it cools. Then when you turn it the right way up again it's dish-shaped. Does that make sense ?
I love my granny-coaster but my absolute favourite is the dish, its just so cute, I'm so happy with it :)
You may be wondering how the pendant attaches onto a necklace ? Well during the firing process Namrata added a little silver attachment thingy to it through which a necklace or cord could be threaded, but I kind of tried to widen it to fit a cord thing I already had, but in trying to widen it, I, er, um, kind of broke it. Gah! Hubby has a soldering iron somewhere so I'm wondering if I can use that to fix it, otherwise it will just have be a decorative stone on my desk ....
I really enjoyed the workshop, I definitely want to do it again some time, and think I could go a bit more adventurous this time now that I know what to expect.
As well as running workshops, Namrata makes and sells a lot of her own work. Her pieces are truly stunning, and show how complex the design can be for a professional ..... check out her jewellery ....
.... and these next two pieces of wall-art are quite large, sort of dinner plate sized.
If you get the chance, I definitely recommend going on this sort of workshop, it was a really fun way to spend a morning, and with lovely (hopefully!) pieces to keep at the end :)