Glass is a funny thing.  One piece can look just like another - flat, clear, same thickness - and they may still be as different as a cat and a cow.  It's all in the "Coefficient Of Expansion" or COE.  The majority of glass artists who are firing (fusing) their glass in a kiln are the happy recipients of years of trial and error by artists and glass companies who painstakingly developed ranges of glass with the same COE. 

I personally use a line of glass made by Spectrum Glass Co. and another by Uroboros Glass Co. that all have the COE number of 96.  Now, having the same COE means that this glass will expand and contract in the heating and cooling processes of the kiln at the same rate (or close enough to not cause stress on the glass - assuming the artist takes the proper precautions with their time and temperature rates).

The line of glass paints that I use has a very wide range of compatibility due to the fact that it is so finely ground that it can move more freely as the glass expands and contracts.  However - I have found it's breaking point.  Literally.

I am always coming up with new ideas to make miniature glass paintings to be used in jewelry pieces.  The challenge is that I would like to make the glass round or oval, but cutting those pieces is more difficult and making them the exact shape and size to fit into a pre-made metal bezel is super difficult.  That is because when the glass heats and cools it generally gets smaller and I have yet to perfect the knowledge of what that size difference will be.

I found a company that sells small domed glass pieces that are meant to be used as covers over miniature paper pictures for jewelry.  I thought "Aha".  I could paint on the flat sides of those and then mount them in the bezel settings.  However, these domed glass pieces are not made of "tested compatible" glass and are actually very hard glass compared to that which is usually used in fusing.

I chose 4 pieces and successfully painted and fired the lining and shading stages of my black work. I was thrilled.  Then, I added the paint colors.  Huge failure.  The COE is too far off to do my usual method of painting.  The paint was too thick.

4 Failures of Compatibility:

The sparkling effect you see is the crazing or cracking where the paint and glass meet.  Almost looks pretty, but it's definitely not right.




In this last image, you can actually see where a piece of the painted glass chipped off of the glass piece.


So, back to the drawing board - I knew that the first two paint steps worked just fine, but they use thinner layers of paint.  I tried another piece and fired the lining and shading again with no issues, then mixed up some paint with my clove oil (I usually use water for this step) and then painted the colors on in thin layers.  I crossed my fingers and into the kiln it went again.

This, apparently, is the way to go.  The colors are brilliant and there is no crazing between the paint and glass.  Yay!  


"The Power of Three"

This one is mounted in an antiqued silver bezel with a 24" chain.  The antiqueing process brought out some copper color in the metal which is just the right touch for this painted scene.  It's available in my Etsy store now and there will be more to come.




Tree Boxes

I had a brilliant idea!  Well, we all have them from time to time, don't we?

Turn some of my glass on wood pieces into boxes!  These could be for jewelry, paperclips, found shells, pet ashes.... the list goes on.

Early Dawn Tree Box 2

Early Dawn Tree Box 3

I took chunks of tree limbs, cut off the bottom, slice into the edges of the rest of the chunk to create a cavity, then glue all those pieces back together.  Then take a slice off of the top of the piece from the inside to glue onto the bottom of the glass for the lid. Then, of course, make the reverse glass painting to fit the box.  Once glued together, the box is heavily sanded and has a coat of satin varnish to protect the wood.

Remember Me Tree Box

Remember Me Tree Box 3

So far I have only done some of my tree designs, but I could see all kinds of animals and even pet portraits for pet urns.  They are all around 4" in diameter and varying heights from 2-1/2" to 5".

Willow Tree Box

Willow Tree Box 3

Love them!!

Clay Fun

So, a couple of weeks ago I had decided I was going to try making some of my jewelry pieces with porcelain clay instead of the precious metal silver clay.  I kind of knew a little about porcelain, but really not much.  After some research about firing it and looking at info on my glass kiln, I realized my kiln does not safely fire to a hot enough temperature for porcelain (over 2200 degrees).  Bummer.

So I bought another packet of silver clay.  It is very expensive.  I have not opened it yet. 

Today Mark and I were at Michael's and I decided to see what they offered in the way of clay I might be able to use.  I settled on an extremely inexpensive packet of white Sculpey III clay.  Some of you may be familiar with this clay.  It is used for everything from jewelry to buttons, sculpture and a lot more.  

I did not know much about it and found a couple of interesting articles and videos, but nothing that really told me exactly how to do what I wanted to do.  Most of the online info is about making millifiore canes or beads.  So I just went for it.

It's properties make this such a wonderfully workable medium.  And the best part - it only has to cook at 275 degrees and DOES NOT SHRINK!!  I can insert my glass with absolutely no worries.  I am very excited and thrilled to present my first piece of polymer clay and glass jewelry. 


Like I said, this was made from white clay.  I layered a base sheet, stamped it with this attractive tree shape, then centered my glass on the front of that, wrapped a "snake" of clay around the glass, then layered strips across the top all the way around the glass.  With my fingers I smoothed it all around, poked the holes, trimmed it up a little bit, then cooked it in my oven.

Then the work began.  I used a tiny carving tool to carve all of the grooves in to the face of the frame.  I also used an exacto blade to trim all the way around, round the corners and clean up the inside edge of the frame.  I sanded it all over with a very fine sanding pad.  

As I was carving I accidentally carved a hair too deep on one of the corners and the glass poked through.  I thought "UhOh" but did a tiny little patch and refired it and it came out perfect. 

I then put some black acrylic paint on a rag and just basically painted the entire piece black.  Then I took a clean rag and rubbed it all over so that the black stayed in the texture and crevices.  After the paint dried I brushed on a coat of clear satin acrylic finish to protect it.

In some lights it actually looks like silver, but it is very lightweight and not as shiny as silver is.  I attached silver filled chain with beads and a lobster clasp to finish it off.

I am bubbling with excitment and looking forward to making a whole series!!


Glass and Wood

I have been thinking about making some more metal and glass jewelry.  I started making some drawings with silver PMC in mind.   I am so in love with the pieces Vickie Hallmark is doing and wish I could go take her workshop on making painted glass and silver pendants.  Alas, it is just too far away for me to attend.

So, I thought I could work on it and figure it out on my own.   Like I said, I did some drawings, but then thought that the cost of the silver might outweigh what I could charge for the pendants.  I am not in the jewelry business and right now I know my clientele is not in that market when they are looking at my work.

However, I couldn't let the idea go.  Then, I thought - why not continue with what I already do and know - glass and wood!

I started with a new sketch and a bunch of notes to myself.  I tried to think of all angles - shape, size, thickness, materials, etc.

Wood and Glass pendant 2


   Wood and Glass pendant 3

I had such a busy schedule that I had to put off actually attempting to make this piece for several days.  It was killing me.  When I finally got into the studio, it didn't actually take me long to get this done.  I cut the basice shape from a block of mahogany.  Then I shaped it on the band saw, trimming the thickness on the back edge to create a domed back.    I drilled a circle into the face about 1/2 way through the thickness.  Thoroughly sanding, shaping and varnishing finished the wood piece.

Then I cut the piece of amber stained glass, painted it and fired it.  I created the copper bail with copper wire that I bent and soldered together, hammered into shape and drilled.  I drilled a hole through the wood and used a piece of copper wire with soldered ends to pin the bail to the wood. 

The coppere wire was coiled and hammered and I drilled holes in the wood, poking the wire ends from the front to the back and coiled it on the back to be decorative, but also to hold the wire in place.  When the glass cooled, it was glued into place. 

Wood and Glass pendant

Wood and Glass pendant 4

A Small Diversion

My main focus of my art is, of course, glass.  Sometimes, though, an idea will strike that I can't pass up.  This time, I was looking at my box full of driftwood pieces to put together some wood backings for glass.  I had quite a few that were simply too small to be of any use for that purpose. 

May 2011 007

But, they were just perfect for creating some jewelry pieces.  I drilled them from the front or the side (depending on the piece) and did a light varnishing over the whole piece.  The varnish really brought out the color of the wood and made them quite rich looking. 

May 2011 009

Then I simply took some off-white acrylic paint and hand painted a tree on each one.  Some are leafless trees, a couple are pine style trees.  The solid off-white paint is what makes them very simple, yet classy looking.  On two of them I then put some adhesive over the paint and laid on a sheet of white gold leaf.  When all was dry I coated the painted surface again with varnish to seal them.

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My favorites are the darker wood.

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This one has some of the white gold leaf.

This was such a fun diversion - I can definitely see more of these in my future! And, I got a lot of nice comments on the one I wore this weekend and even sold one at one of my shows!  Yay!

You can look for them on my Etsy shop if you are interested.

Little Blue - Bird A Week #15

More jewelry finished this week.  I drew several new designs, but also used a couple of previously drawn sketches. 


The little birds from my coasters are so cute and simple, they work well for the small 1" format of my framed pendants."

This little guy has a bright golden background that shows off the blue bird quite nicely. 

I have been experimenting with different settings and cording.  I used chain on some of the pieces and am leaning towards the chain on all of them now.  It gives the pieces more weight physically and metaphorically.

Here are some of the others I finished.



Bird A Week #9 - Owl Pendant

I was so excited to receive my bronze clay last week.  I got right to it and made up several mounting pieces for my painted glass.  I have learned a lot about the clay and have come out with some very appealing pieces.  Some of the construction didn't go as planned and the shrinkage was a hair more than I expected, but I am very happy with the results.

My bird this week is my Owl Totem Pendant.  He is done in a folk-artsy style and has an olive greenish background.  He is intended to bring knowledge and wisdom to you as you wear him close to your heart.

March 2, 2011 013 

As well, I have finished an additional 10 other pieces with the bronze and glass.  I have them all listed on my Etsy site now available for sale.   Each one is made from an original reverse glass painting mounted on my handmade bronze clay.  Here are some preview pictures.

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I actually have a dozen more glass pieces that need mountings, so more bronze work to come.  I love the warm tone that the bronze brings to the glass, it seems to work well with my images and themes. 

Hope you also enjoy them!

Bird-A-Week #7 - Raven

I have been saying for a very long time that while I occasionally make jewelry pieces, I do not want to be in the jewelry making business.  Well, sometimes I just get on the kick of making small pieces and can't help it.

I did some experimenting of reverse painting on small cut pieces of framing glass.  I have lots of that laying around from the frames that I bastardize to mount my tiles on.  The glass is hard so does not distort in firing, the paint adheres well and fires well on it and it is very thin so is perfect for jewelry pieces - not alot of bulk or weight.  The hardest part is manipulating the paint in such a small format.

February 5, 2011 002 Raven Pendant - approx 3/4" x 1-1/2"

So, my bird this week is about 3/4" x 1-1/2".  It is actually not finished.  The painting and glass is all done and ready, but I have ordered some bronze and copper clay to make settings for it and several other pieces I have painted.  I simply can not wait til the clay arrives some time next week.  I already have lots of sketches of designs to work up the clay.

Clay Pendant design 1 

Clay pendant design 2 

Clay pendant design 3 

Clay pendant design 4 

It works well to draw up actual size sketches of what I am thinking in order to translate that into an actual piece.  In my mind I have all of the ideas for thickness, techniques, etc, but the actual design is best kept on paper.  You can also see some of my notes about possible design additions.

I just can't wait for the clay!!!
Check back for some finished pictures hopefully next week!