Easy ways to remember what you have learned!

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Enamel by Greta Schneider

If you do glass for a long time….like many of your fellow glass artists, you will like to take classes to learn lots of different techniques and also do experiments on your own. While some of the information seems quite simple and easy to remember….most of us will find over time…there are SO MANY ways to handle and fire glass that it is really easy to forget exactly how you created that desired affect! It really pays to keep good notes (that you can find) on what worked and what didn’t…as well as firing schedules. It also helps to make and keep notes of changes to firing schedules based on experience with your personal kiln. Every kiln fires slightly differently. Another great idea is to make simple SAMPLE SETS that clarify what happens to glass in various circumstances.

I do a lot of dichroic work…and dichro changes a lot both with viewing angles…but especially when it is fired. If you hold a piece of dichro at about a 45 degree angle… you can see sort of what color it will be after firing… when viewed straight on. However…. when I am looking for some very specific colors….. or something more monochromatic but the varied shades are important…… I cut some very small pieces of my dichro…. and make an sample set of those colors….fired and unfired, to keep. Because your pieces will turn out better, in the long run…. the small amount of dichro you use up in the samples will actually save you money. I have included here – first some samples of just reds and oranges on black glass……(from Spirit of Glass). The raw red dichro can even look brown or green… seems illogical…. but it will fire to lovely reds and oranges. Look how much the fired colors (smaller and more rounded) change. One photo is straight on and the other at an angle. The angle gives you a clue to the fired color….but this is much easier to see in person rather than a photo.

Red and orange dichro samples fired and unfired to see the actual color change. the smaller more rounded pieces are fired.

This shows the same sheet of fired and unfired colors held at an angle.

The next shot is dichro on clear glass….laid over black paper to show the colors better. As you can see…some colors change more than others…. but that is helpful to know beforehand, so your finished piece is in the color range you expected or hoped for.

Sample set of dichroic coating on clear glass: unfired on top and fired on bottom

The next photo (with the hearts) is of samples of colored powders mixed with clear powder. If you want to mix a color and repeat it…. do it by WEIGHT, not sight! These samples were done using a freeze-n-fuse method but just a multi-section mold works well too. It really shows how strong some colors are…..even a 20 % saturation can produce a LOT of color!

Powder color % samples.

Another sample set that is helpful is using lines of powders that crisscross so you not only see the actual colors…. but which ones react with each other and what color that reaction produces. With every class or project…you will learn a little more…..and if you can memorialize the information in a simple and effective way…. especially if you can produce a visual sample….(a picture is worth a thousand words)…. you will find these reference pieces to be really useful for years to come and also very helpful if you would like to explain an idea or process to someone else. It is also so nice to be able to answer a question about something at a glance…rather than stopping in the middle of a project …. and having to run tests. Have fun….(and also take notes and photos)! You’ll be glad you did.

Copyleft: free to use for educational purposes and personal use only, with attribution.

For more studio tips attend the January 23rd General Meeting at 3:30pm via Zoom