When I visit family and friends, it makes my heart soar to see pieces of my art on display in their homes. If you’re like me all your pieces, large or small, remind you of special, creative moments you’ve enjoyed in your studio. It’s heartwarming to relive memories knowing those we care about are enjoying the fruit of our labor, too.
With increasing demands on our time at this busy time of year, it can be hard to squeeze studio time into the week. Not to worry. I have a guilt-free solution: classy stress-free gifts that will have your non-fusing friends in awe of your wicked glass crafting skills.
I’m always hesitant to commit to the pressures of the holidays and gift giving too early. I prefer to enjoy the changing season and Thanksgiving unrushed. But, I also like to multi-task and be well prepared for the upcoming holidays. With a little forethought, you can build simple, surprisingly attractive gifts at the same time you’re making your planned projects.
It’s the thought that counts.
Friends and family are touched when you make gifts specifically with them in mind. It doesn’t matter if the artwork is big or small, they appreciate the kind gesture. Take it a step farther and personalize the gifts and you’re sure to make an impression that lasts.
Wine Bottle Cheese Tray
Wine bottle cheese trays are terrific, personalized gifts that amaze non-fusers. They think it’s so cool that we can reshape ordinary glass objects. Truth is, they’re right! How fun to have the power, 220 glorious amps, to make bottles conform to our whim. Plus, flattening bottles is a terrific way to keep your kiln producing between projects. And, everyone loves that you’re recycling.
The first step, and this is my favorite, is to empty the wine bottle. Next, rinse the inside of the bottle with clean water. Be sure to remove any metal band or collar around the neck, and then remove the front and back labels. I soak the bottles in a large sink with an inch or so of water.
I lay the bottle in the water, so the back label is submerged. Then I lay a saturated cotton towel or paper towel over the front label. Let the bottle soak for a few hours or overnight. This should soften the paper label enough that it can be scraped off with minimal effort. Once the paper is removed, I scrub any residual glue off with a scouring pad. For stubborn labels, I soak bottles for a few days in a 5-gallon bucket filled with enough water to keep the labels wet. Once the bottles are clean, store them upside down in a box or a bucket until the water has drained and the inside is dry.
The bottles are flattened on a primed, or shelf paper-lined, kiln shelf. The bottles sometimes roll into each other when fired. The result is a weird looking mess that’s unstable due to the incompatibility of the two bottles. I place two chips of System 98, clear, medium size frit under each bottle prior to firing to keep them from moving. The S96 glass chips are so tiny, they don’t cause a compatibility problem. I position the chips about 2” apart and then place the bottle between them.
Fire the bottles using the fusing guide below.
Once the bottles are flat, glue 4 small clear nuggets to the bottom. I use E6000 adhesive. Apply glue to the four nuggets, position them, and then turn the flattened bottle over so the nuggets are underneath the bottle. This levels the nuggets, so the bottle sits nicely on the table. Let the glue dry overnight.
The nuggets give the bottle lift. This lift makes it easy to wrap your fingers around the resting bottle. Plus, it allows light to pass underneath so the colored glass shines brightly. The added step really dresses up the finished project.
Finish the tray by tying a cheese knife around the neck of the bottle with a colored ribbon. Fancy knives are available at your local store and online. You may also consider including a decorative card for a personal touch.
Wine Bottle Tags
These little gems are fast and fun to make. I make them in two sizes: 2” x 2” and 1 ½” x 2 ½”. The base layer is made with a ½” wide strip of dichroic glass and iridized black. I like these shinny materials because they reflect light beautifully.
The two base pieces are capped with clear glass. The fun messages are written with a fine paint pen and fire-able gold paint. My messages include: Time for Wine, Celebrate, Cheers and my favorite, Mom’s Not Home. Of course, you can make up your own clever sayings.
The possibilities are endless.
Fuse the glass using the guide below.
After the glass is fired, glue a bail on the backside with E6000. Let the glue dry overnight. Tie a colorful ribbon through the bail and hang the tag on a bottle of wine. For an added touch, gift the bottle tag in a satin bag. You’ll find them at your local dollar store or craft store in the wedding section.
Wine Bottle Stoppers
Dichroic wine bottle stoppers are a gift everyone loves. And it’s a great way to get maximum use out of your scrap dichroic glass. This project can be approached in one of two ways. Both work well, it’s a matter of which works best for you.
The first method is to cut a piece of clear glass the same size and shape as the bottle stopper. Cut dichroic glass scrap to cover the clear. Arrange the dichroic in the kiln and cap it with the clear. This method of assembly is prefered when making functional art with dichroic glass. Otherwise, the dichroic coating will scratch if not protected with clear. Plus, the clear magnifies the flashy colors and wonderful patterns.
Fire the glass and then glue it on the bottle stopper. Done.
For the second method, arrange a single layer of scrap dichroic inside a 6” x 6” pencil line drawn on a kiln shelf. Cap the dichroic with a 6” x 6” piece of clear glass. Fire the glass. Using a pattern as a guide, draw the bottle stopper shape on the glass and cut the desired shape with a saw.
Fire polish the cut glass. Glue the polished glass on the bottle stopper.
The beauty of this technique is that the random assembly gives you a lovely variety of abstract patterns.
The nice thing about the wine bottle tags and wine bottle stoppers is they’re fast and easy to assemble. And, they’re small enough to fit on the corner of a kiln shelf alongside your primary project, doubling the efficiency of your firings.
It’s all about getting the job done and having fun. With these quick and easy projects, you’ll have your holiday gifts wrapped up in no time.
Segment 1: Ramp 300 F/hr to 1300 and hold 30 min.
Segment 2: Ramp 500F/hr to 1465 and hold 10 min.
Segment 3: Ramp 9999(AFAP*) to 960 and hold 40 min.
Segment 4: Cool to room temperature.
*As fast as possible
Fire Polish Guide
Segment 1: Ramp 300 F/hr to 1365 and hold 10 min.
Segment 2: Ramp 9999(AFAP*) to 960 and hold 40 min.
Segment 3: Cool to room temperature.
*As fast as possible
*Kilns fire differently. Test fire the guides and adjust as needed.
Upcoming Webinar and Workshop
Reshape the way you slump and drape glass!
Creative Slumping Webinar
January 18, 2018
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Advanced Glass Fusing Workshop
February 6 – 9, 2018
Wesley Chapel, Florida
You’ll love the creative momentum you gain from working four consecutive days.
Exceed your expectations! This workshop is ideal for ambitious glass fusers determined to go bigger and explore more in-depth kiln forming techniques! Join me in this comprehensive, 4-day workshop and enjoy one-on-one instruction, step-by-step guidance to develop your own design style, and an individualized project program - make what inspires YOU!
Check out the New Advanced Fusing Workshop video here