Fused Glass Project for Beginners - Tic-Tac-Toe
The Finished Piece
A Great Starter Project
Fused glass is an exciting art media and one that can yield beautifully detailed colors and shapes. It does however; require access to fairly expensive equipment and the glass itself is not cheap. These factors dissuade many would-be glass artists from getting started. If you don't have your studio full of cool toys for working with glass don't despair. There many well equipped studios where, after you have been trained, you can use the equipment at a nominal charge.
The tic-tac-toe project described here is designed to help the starting glass artist make an inexpensive, yet artistic colorful piece that is also functional. Another advantage is that most of the project can be made with left over pieces of glass from grander projects.
The board consisting of the base, the cross bars, and the pieces placed by the players are all fairly small and can usually be made with scrap pieces of glass. For the purpose of this project we are selecting a red base with black cross bars along with black and white pieces. We will assume the glass is standard Bullseye fusible glass.
For the base we need an 8” square piece of red opaque glass. Make sure the piece is square and that the cuts along the edges are clean with no sharp protrusions. If a wet-belt sander is available, give each edge a quick sanding with a 220 grit belt. Rounding the edges and the corners slightly will yield a more professional looking piece.
Next we move on to the cross bars. Cut four pieces of black glass five inches long by 3/8" to 1/2 inch wide. Again, make sure the cuts along the edges are clean with no sharp protrusions. Use the wet-belt sander to round off the corners.
Finally we will cut the glass for the ten pieces. It takes two pieces of glass for each piece for the game; so you cut ten black pieces and ten white pieces. Each piece should be two inch square. Follow the same procedure for grinding down the edges but round off the corners a bit more than the other pieces.
When you fire these pieces, they will become round and thicker. Bullseye art glass will become roughly ¼ inch thick (just over 6mm) when fired to a full fuse. This is equivalent to two layers of standard-thickness Bullseye 1/8” (3mm) glass. If you want to learn more about this action of glass, you should read Bullseye’s Technote #5, "Volume and Bubble Control". Anyone with a serious interest in fused glass should consider this required reading. You can access the full Technote from the Bullseye website.
Now that we have all the glass cut, there is one very important step before we lay them up in the likn -- cleaning the glass. Nothing will create havoc with your art like dirty glass which is an open invitation to and ugly scummy surface coating called devitrification. My choice for cleaning the glass is hot water and a dish soap like Dawn. Use an old toothbrush on the edges that you ground down with the wet-belt sander. This not only cleans the glass, it also eliminates the residue left by the grinder. After cleaning, I rinse with hot water and dry the glass with lint free cloth that I get from Costco. Make sure your hands are clean and dry before you start laying up the pieces in the kiln.kiln
Layup and First Firing
The first firing is going to be the cross bars and the 10 pieces. This will be a full fuse which in my kiln (Jen-Ken Oval 9) is 400 degrees per hour to 1390 degrees with a 20 minute, hold. Use Bullseyes standard annealing times. If you are using a kiln you are unfamiliar with, ask some one who uses the kiln regularly. Place Thinfire shelf paper on the firing shelf or ensure that it is well coated with kiln wash.
Place the cross bars on the shelf so that you get a nice symmetricalp; layout. One parallel set goes on the bottom, the next set goes on top. Try not to touch the glass when you are arrangeing the pieces. I like to use either a toothpick or an old dental pick I got from my dentist.
Once you have the bars laid out, place the square pieces on the shelf in a four by four matrix about 1/2 inch apart. They go two high so you will have ten sets of two each. This will give you 5 black pieces and 5 white pieces. Your ten playing pieces are finished.
Second Firing (Tack Fuse)
The second firing is to tack fuse the crossbars on to the red base plate. Again, make sure your glass is clean before you do your layup. Place the red base piece in the center of the kiln and position the cross bars so that they are centered on the base. For the tack fuse i go 400 degrees per hour to 1250 degrees with a 5 minute hold.
Keep in mind that this is a tack fuse and that the base is a single thickness piece. If you over fuse, the base will pull in on the sides and the corners will tend to round. it is better to under fire than over fire in this case. Again consult with someone who is familiar with the kiln you are using. Remember, you can always do another tack fuse but you can't undo it.
When you are finished, inspect the piece and note what you would like to improve in your next piece. Be creative, there is nothing unique about the size. I chose this size because I can make six pieces at a time. I also make 5 inch pieces by scaling down the cross bars and making the pieces smaller. Experiment, play around with the designs and colors. It is a hobby, enjoy it!
Always keep detailed firing records of everything you put in in the kiln. Be sure to describe the results detailing both the good and the bad. Eventually you will have a good reference book of firing schedule. Look for a new Hub next week on kiln firing records.