Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fuser’s Guide to 3 Great Gifts Worth Cheering About

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.

Happy fusing!

Fusing Guide
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

Are you a hands-on learner? Join me in February! 

Now registering!
Advanced Glass Fusing Workshop
February 6 – 9, 2018
Wesley Chapel, Florida
4-Day, Hands-on

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fusers Guide to Frit – 5 Sizes, Limitless Possibilities

Fairy Tale Forest from Painting with Frit Video DVD
Frit is your friend! 

Fusing glass is amazing. We fusers cut glass and super heat it to make cool designs all our own. Solid colors make bold projects, but once you start playing with frit and see all the new and exciting possibilities, you’ll be eager to add this small material to all your big projects.    

Frit is crushed fusible glass. System 96 frit comes in 5 grain sizes: powder, fine, medium, coarse and mosaic. Each size is available in 8.5 oz. and 4 lb. jars. Each frit size has unique visual characteristics that you can push to ramp up your fused glass projects. Let’s go over the many possibilities one size at a time. 


Powder has the silky consistency of confectioners’ sugar. It appears smooth and has uniform color coverage after fusing. Powders can be used as filler between cut glass pieces, to add shading, to add patterns and even as a repair tool. I use powder when I want super strong color saturation along with multiple color blends. 

Shere Power Pre-fire
 Shere Power is a great example. Wherever I wanted tight control over my line quality and solid color saturation, I used cut glass to represent the design. The cut glass was fixed to a clear base glass with fuser’s glue. The glue keeps the pieces from moving when applying the frit. Once the glue was dry, I poured powder frit between the pieces and blended the colors with a wide, dry paint brush and a palate knife. The blended powders give the art a beautiful painterly quality that dramatically contrasts the solid color fields surrounding it. 

Shere Power Post-fire
Other fun uses include using powder to add shadows to a solid base color. Apply medium and dark green powder on top of light green glass to add shading to your design. Or sift the powder over a stencil to add a crisp and intricate pattern to your project.

Example of stenciling with powder frit.
One of my favorite uses for powder is to fill inconvenient gaps between my cut glass pieces. Think of it like grouting tile. It’s easy and effective. Work a small amount of powder into the gaps with a narrow paint brush. For added pop, use a bright color that contrasts your design’s color palate.    

Party Animals

Detail showing frit filling gaps
Powder Pros: It’s fast and easy to create subtle or dramatic color blends that support your specific creative vision. Adding shading and pattern is a snap.     

Powder Cons: Cleanup is time consuming. The powder requires meticulous cleanup to ensure the surrounding solid glass color isn’t muddied. After removing any excess power with a brush, I go over the surface of the glass with the corner of a damp towel or a damp Q-tip depending upon the size of the surface area being cleaned.  

Tips for working with Powder

·       Don’t be skimpy when you use powder frit. For bright vivid colors, it’s necessary to fill the space between your cut glass pieces to the top edge, in effect making the frit 1/8 inch thick.

·       Be daring and use high contrast colors, they display better in the finished piece.
·       Opal glass colors tend to give a more dramatic effect than transparent colors.  

·       Know your glass colors. Powder frit specifically, looks lighter in the jar than the actual glass color. Light blue and dark blue look the same just as transparent light green and opal dark green look the same. If you’re not sure of the intensity or opacity of a powder, look at a larger size frit like, medium or coarse. Or find a piece of sheet glass with the same color code number, compare it to the frit and the frit color and shade will be obvious.   

·       Powder in high concentration, like in a casting mold, looks milky after fusing. If you want to use powder in a mold, layer it with clear in medium, coarse or mosaic size frit. Using this technique will improve the transparency of the cast glass project. 

Sea Turtle made with fine, medium, coarse and mosaic frit.
Fine Frit 

Fine frit has the consistency of granulated sugar. It appears grainy, like small uniform dots after fusing. Like powder, fine can be used to fill gaps between cut pieces of glass. The larger grain size makes it faster and easier to clean up than powder. Fine is also great for shading when you want a slight textural look to the shadows.

Fine Pros: Cleanup is fast and easy. In the same application, it takes less material to do the same job with fine than it does with powder. Fine is a great filler to use between larger frit. It gives you complete color coverage and prevents the base glass from peeking through. 

Fine Cons: Color blends within this same size have a grainy appearance after fusing.   

Tips for working with Fine 

·       Use fine frit together with other frit sizes to produce visual textures. 


Medium Frit

Medium frit has the texture of coarse sand. When fused, medium frit retains the sand-like visual appearance. I use this size frit when I want to fill in larger areas with strong color quickly. It can also be used to create shading and color blends provided you welcome variations in the coverage as provided by how much frit or how little frit is applied. 

Medium Pros:  Medium frit provides you with quick, easy coverage of large areas with strong color saturation.

Medium Cons: This frit has a grainy look and the base glass may peek through the frit unless your layer is thick. 

·       Use both transparent and opal glasses in combination for greater visual depth and to create shading.   

·       Use medium and fine frit together for new color blends and to add visual texture. 

Coarse Frit

Coarse frit has the consistency of small pebbles. The pebble look remains after fusing. This frit is great for filling large areas where you want visual texture to contrast solid fields elsewhere in the project. 

Coarse Pros: Coarse frit covers a lot of area fast and it leaves an appealing pattern behind after firing.

Coarse Cons: The base glass will be visible between this larger size grain. I fill in around coarse with both medium and fine frit to intensify the color and hide the base.

Tips for working with Coarse 

·       Use both transparent and opal glasses in combination for greater visual depth and to create shading.   

·       Use fine and medium frit together with coarse to produce pleasing textures. 

 Mosaic Frit

Mosaic has a wide variety of glass shapes and sizes within the jar. This frit leaves a vein-like impression after fusing. I use mosaic when I have a lot of space to fill and when I want to create an organic pattern.  
Example of clear mosaic frit used to change a solid color.
Tips for working with Mosaic

        Clear glass layered on top of a color dilutes the color below. It’s like adding water to paint. I like to put clear mosaic pieces on top of select elements in my work to create subtle, lighter variations in the original glass color. 

·       During assembly, glue the mosaic pieces down with fusers glue so they don’t move when you fill in the spaces in between. 

·       Use both transparent and opal glasses in combination for greater visual depth and to build interest.    

·       Use fine, medium and coarse frit to fill gaps and produce interesting color combinations and exciting textures. 

Pull it all Together 

Frit is a terrific medium for making landscapes or other images where you want to create an engaging depth of field. In nature, objects in the distance are lighter in color, and they visually have less detail. When making landscapes, I use the different frit sizes to emphasize those subtle differences. 

I use powder to render the sky because I can get smooth, gradual color changes. I use fine frit to create the tree line and other filler foliage in the distance. The grain size stands out in front of the powder and yet doesn’t compete with the foreground. Medium frit works well for the mid-range elements that require more intricate detail, like bushes or flowers. Coarse frit is well suited for objects in the foreground, such as flowering plants or sweeping trees. These design elements carry more visual weight and tie the design together. Mosaic frit is great for specific up-close subject matter like a path or bridge. Such solid, recognizable focal points lure the viewer into the design. 

Detail of frit.

System 96 frit comes packed in 8.5 oz. and 4 lb. jars. For the larger sizes like coarse and mosaic you may consider crushing your own frit. The advantage to working from the jars though, is you have uniform sizes within the jars and one single color throughout. Plus, there’s no risk of contaminants like dirt or metal shavings that are present when you crush your own glass. Personally, I prefer to jump right into the design and fabrication phases rather than spend time swinging a hammer and sifting glass.  

I hope this round-up entices you to start incorporating frit in your new work. It’s such a versatile and easy to apply material. You’ll love the creative flexibility if affords.

Get going!

Happy fusing!

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Want to learn more? Join me in my Fusing with Frit Webinar
This Thursday, October 26, 2017

Excerpt for Fusing with Frit Webinar Thursday, October 26, 2017
Let’s get together and fuse glass! It’s LIVE! I come to you. There’s still time to register. I hope to see YOU there.

Fusing with Frit Webinar
This Thursday, October 26, 2017
Reshape the way you slump and drape glass!

Except from Creative Slumping Webinar January 18, 2018

Creative Slumping Webinar
January 18, 2018

Advanced Glass Fusing with Lisa Vogt February 6-9, 2018
Are you a hands-on learner? Join me in February!
Now registering!
Advanced Glass Fusing Workshop
February 6 – 9, 2018
Wesley Chapel, Florida
4-Day, Hands-on

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