Glass as a Shape Shifter

Can glass change shape? Seems impossible that glass could move at all as it is so inflexible. What if we were to introduce heat? What do you think will happen now? The amount of heat is a huge factor in the way glass behaves. Here is some insight on how glass can behave while exposed to heat and, how much heat creates those changes.

First rule of glass - it wants to be 6mm or 1/4" by the rules of nature. What does this mean? It means that if you have a piece of glass that is an 1/8" or 3mm, and you heat it up until it is almost molten, it will shrink until it becomes 6mm thick. If that piece of glass was square in shape, it would most likely have a 'dog-bone' shape when it got to room temperature. The dog-boning is where the sides pull in towards the center creating a dog-bone shape.

What happens if the glass is greater than 6mm thick? Well....while the thinner piece of glass pulls in, the thicker glass will spread out until it reaches the 6mm thickness.

If a piece of glass is 6mm at the start of fusing, it will mostly maintain it's shape and thickness while going through fusing temperatures and back to room temperature.

Most of the pieces I create are many layers of glass. I have to look at the thickness and decide how I want that piece to behave while heated so I get the result I'm looking for.

What temperature does glass start changing or moving? That all depends on the desired result. Typically, and this can slightly vary based on your kiln, glass will start to soften and move at approximately 1200 deg F. If you have a piece that you want to make into a shaped plate for example, you will go to this temperature, usually in a mold. This is called slumping.

In order to get two or more pieces of glass to fuse into a solid piece, you expose it to 1480 deg F. This will cause the glass to melt together. This is also the stage where you need to be concerned with the thickness so you don't get surprised when you open the kiln. This is call full fuse.

There are many other stages the glass goes through depending on the desired outcome and it is a learning curve for the artist to understand how glass and their kiln behaves together.

So all said, we now know that glass is a shape shifter and that only imagination and the control of heat are our limitations!



Fairs and Festivals

Now that summer is in full swing, arts festivals are popping up everywhere. Locals artisans, like myself, that spend all year creating lucious works of art are showing off their wares at these festivals. What goes on behind the scenes to bring these booths to life? Well I'm going to share that with you!

You probably didn't know that to get accepted into some of the festivals, artisans must apply months in advance, sometimes the year before. Some of the shows are juried, which means the artisan must provide photos of their work plus descriptions. A jury panel examines the photos and the application, then decides if that artisan fits into the constraints of their festival. Most require that the work is completely handmade by the artisan, nothing bought and re-sold.

Along with festival applications there are fees, one to reserve the booth space and, for juried shows, another for the jurying fee which is non-refundable.

Once accepted, the day and morning before the show is a flurry of activity. Artists pack their cars and trailers, and travel to the festival. Some artists come from a great distance.

After the artist gets their booth assignment, they unpack their vehicles, tents go up, and the displays are built. This takes hours, some prefer to do this the night before - this is a lot of work!

During the open hours of the show, the artist must be on hand at all times. When I do a show I usually hardly eat. How embarrassing to try to talk to a customer with a mouthfull! I stand most of the day because I want to engage with everyone that comes into my booth. I want people to understand my process and know exactly what my product is. Plus, I feel that when I'm sitting, someone may think I'm not interested in engaging. Not so! I love to talk about how I make my pieces. I love the reactions I get from people, they always make me feel like they're amazed. I love that!

If a festival is one day, after all the festival-goers are gone, product and displays are re-packed, tents are taken down, cars are packed, and away we go.

If a festival is multiple days, tents are zipped up until the next morning.

Many more hours than the festival is open goes into setting up a booth for all to enjoy. Days can be long and exhausting, the weather can be rainy (UGH) or it can be oven hot. Either way these die hard artists are there because their passion drives them.

When you attend a fair or festival, keep in mind the time each artist puts into their work and their booth. Sometimes if the weather is not pleasant artists may not sell much and leave with a financial loss, or sometimes (hopefully more than not), artists will do well and sell their work. Each show is a risk. I have done shows where I come to the same one every year, some years are great, others are a loss. You never know so you just put your best self out there.

Hope to see you at a show, check my Upcoming Shows page to see where I might be hanging out! Happy Summer!

Full Fuse Decorative Plate

Kiln working glass can be a fun and creative way to work with glass. The process involves choosing colors, cutting glass, and fusing, all which require skill through experience.

The plate I am currently working on is 10mm thick with four colors. Sometimes I will draw a design on paper but many times I alter the design as I work. Color choice can be accomplished using a color wheel to choose colors that are complementary.

After choosing colors I then start cutting the glass. I use a glass cutter to score the glass. The glass will break along that score line. I want the pieces to be precise because as glass flows in the kiln I want to preserve the design. Large spaces will alter the design and possibly create an uneven piece.

Once the pieces are cut I lay them out on a kiln shelf. The shelves are primed so that the glass does not stick to it. The entire layup is then restrained by kiln furniture called dams and bricks. The restraining ensures the design will be preserved as well as thickness. Glass wants to be 6mm (1/4") thick, if not restrained it will revert to that thickness instead of the 10mm I desire. In addition, unrestrained glass may flow over the kiln shelf doing damage to the kiln.

layup of fused plate

You can see the 'dams' which press against the fiber paper and glass. The fiber paper keeps the glass from sticking to the dam. Bricks are then placed behind the dams to keep them in place.

The glass is then fully fused - the glass becomes molten and flows into one solid piece. This happens at approximatley 1500 deg F. This piece was 2 days in the kiln.

Glass plate after fusing Now you can see the bricks that kept the glass at a 10mm thickness.

Once done in the kiln, the glass will be what is called 'coldworked' where the edges are smoothed, and then a final kiln firing to get it to a desired shape ie. a curved plate.

Hope this was informative and thanks for reading!

Fine Versus Sterling Silver

Copper Cuff with fine silver bezel

Fine Silver Versus Sterling Silver - What's the Difference?

You might not realize that there are different types of silver, it's not all that meets the eye , or EyeCandy ;)

Depending on the desired result, different types of silver are used in jewelry.

The term fine silver refers to silver that is 100% pure silver. That means that there aren't any other types of metals mixed in the material. This type of silver is softer than sterling silver but is strong enough to use in bezels and pendants. Fine silver is soft enough to be malleable and shaped but strong enough for jewerly. It is also is more resistant to corrosion (tarnish).

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver. An alloy means that other metals are mixed in, in this case copper. The small amounts of copper make sterling stronger, but it will be more susceptible to tarnish.

When you see a jewelry piece that is stamped .925, that means that the piece is 92.5% silver and the rest is other metals, again usually copper.

While fine and sterling silver are more valuable, they are not to be confused with plated silver. Plated silver is a base metal that has been coated or plated with a thin layer of silver on top. It is not as valuable as fine or sterling silver and can wear over time to reveal the base metal.

I hope this is helpful when purchasing a new piece for your collection!









Ambler Art Festival and more

Thank you to all the wonderful people who came into the Eye Candy booth on Saturday. The feedback was lovely and thank you for a wonderful day where so many pieces went to new homes!

Next art festival will be the Pennridge Gallery of the Arts, September 18 in Sellersville, PA. Hope to see you there!


Champagne Bubbles

If you were wondering just how some of the kiln worked glass on my site is created, this blog post is the first in a series on how some of the processes are done.

When you kiln work glass, the most important piece of equipment is - you guessed it - a kiln. Most kilns today are electric but there are some that are gas or even wood fired. A kiln is a box made of fireproof bricks that can heat glass to extreme temperatures safely. Glass is heated as high a 1500+ degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the desired result. Heat control is the very essence of the design of your final piece. A ‘full fuse’ is the melting and flowing together of several pieces of glass, this is usually the highest temperature for most projects. A ‘fire polish’ is at a lower temperature than full fuse so that the edges will round and become shiny but the shape of the object does not change. The temperature used depends on the desired result.

One concern I will address here is bubbles. You may have browsed some glass art and noticed some tiny bubbles in the piece. Bubbles of this nature are normal and are called champagne bubbles. These bubbles are essentially air trapped between the glass.

You can never really eliminate bubbles but they can be controlled to a degree. Sometimes bubbles can actually be created for a desired look.

1Bubbles used as a design element.

Bubble used as design elements

Other times bubbles present large problems.

Photo from Spectrum Glass Company

1 Photo from Spectrum Glass Company

Layering glass without any way for the bulk of the air to escape is how disaster strikes and ruins an art piece. Glass must be layered in such a way so that air can find a way out during what is called a ‘bubble squeeze’.

Maybe I need to backtrack a little. Kilns heat glass with what’s called a firing schedule. This a sequence of heating events that the kiln follows in heating and melting glass. For instance, a slow ramp up so as to not shock glass when heating, a soak time at the top temperature, a slow ramp down to room temperature to prevent shock here as well (called annealing). A bubble squeeze is a long soak at a temperature certain temperature that allows the glass to soften and melt in a way that gives the air time to squeeze out.

Controlling bubbles is something that is learned through experience and getting to know the idiosyncrasies of your kiln. The best thing is to think ahead when layering glass, decide the best firing schedule for your project, and getting familiar with your kiln to avoid ‘surprises’ when the kiln door is opened to reveal your creation.

Stay tuned for more in the next post!



All Natural Tarnish Remover

I spend a lot of time checking all my pieces for any signs of tarnish. Jewelry that I may have for a few months before they sell may have some tarnish on them from exposure to the environment. Tarnish is actually is oxidation due to exposure to the air. Many of my pieces are also exposed to a lot of handling by interested customers. Fingerprints seem to speed up the process.

Silver pieces will definitely tarnish over time but did you know that plated pieces can also tarnish? You could use a silver polishing cloth on your jewelry, but this takes quite some time and elbow grease. I've spent some time researching this issue looking for a procedure that would use everyday household products. This is what most people recommend:

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup water, hot not boiling

1 plate

1 sheet of aluminum foil

Cover the plate with the foil. Place salt and baking soda on the plate. Pour the water over the powder and salt and carefully mix them together.

Place the jewelry in the watery mixture and wait a few minutes. The foil pulls the tarnish from the jewelry onto itself.

Rinse, towel dry and, using a soft cloth polish the remaining tarnish from the jewelry.

Let me know how it goes!


An Apple A Day....

The Apple Festival Beaded Pendant  Everyone knows an apple a day keeps the doctor away (or so the saying goes). Fall is apple picking season, with crisp, cool air and the refreshing smell of an autumn breeze. The apples are ripe and delicious! My favorite is the Fuji, they were developed by the crossing of two different american types of apples and are sweet and crunchy.

Apple season is the inspiration for The Apple Festival pendant. Perfect for the down to earth, outdoor type. Looks great with a turtle neck or a low scoop neck sweater.

This pendant is on sale for $49.00 from the everyday price of $55.00 at The Apple Festival Pendant. Get the pick of the crop handmade, one of a kind piece for a great price!

See this pendant in person at the Crafts in The Meadow Arts Festival at Tyler State Park Oct 17 & 18, 2015.


We want to meet you....

This weekend Eye Candy Glass Art will be at the Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton, PA. The festival is in the park along the banks of the Delaware River. Come visit us for a fabulous weekend (Sep 19 and 20) of music, art and more! Mention this blog and receive 25% off (yes, 25%)! Hope to see you there....


There's Always Hope....

There's always hope.... Have you ever worked on a project and at some point you step back and say 'this is not what I originally had in mind'. Maybe it worked out better than you thought, maybe it just stopped exciting you. I find that some of those projects can be set aside for months, maybe longer. You look at it from time to time but creative ideas for it allude you. Then one day you have an idea, you resume that project with some new direction. Great, right? But behold, I had that same situation with a pendant piece. It was at least a year old, I reworked it, put it in the kiln, and for a reason I'm still not sure, exploded in the kiln. A big shard was missing from the back layer. First I was sad, but after some rework and some silver metal clay--- voila! So the moral of the story is there's always hope! The mounting for the pendant below is pure fine silver.