Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fusers Guide to Frit – 5 Sizes, Limitless Possibilities




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. Oceanside 96 frit comes in 5 grain sizes: powder, fine, medium, course 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

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 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. 

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.

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 affective. 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.    

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 course. 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, course or mosaic size frit. Using this technique will improve the transparency of the cast glass project. 

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 course 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. 

Course Frit

Course 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. 


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

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

Tips for working with Course 

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

·       Use fine and medium frit together with course 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.  


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 course frit to fill gaps and produce interesting color combinations and exciting textures. 



Put 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. Course 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. 




Oceanside 96 frit comes packed in 8.5 oz. and 4 lb. jars. For the larger sizes like course 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.

Want to learn more? Join me and I’ll show you how to work with frit in a hands-on class, Painting with Frit, at Glass Craft Expo in April. The class registration info is below. 

Get going!

Happy fusing!
Lisa  

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