Time to teach the joys of glass

I have started to teach fused glass workshops in the basement of the shop. I can’t wait to show other people why glass is so much fun!  Glass is a fascinating medium.  I discovered it on a weekend workshop and it soon became a favourite hobby of mine, and, later, my main source of income.

After an introductory workshop, I was hooked. I rented a workspace in the Open Studios on Brighton Seafront and started to teach myself.  Fused glass is made up of layers of sheet glass, decorated with other forms such as crushed ‘frit’ that adds sparkle, depth and texture. It is arranged almost like a collage and essentially ‘cooked’ in the kiln so that it melts, or ‘fuses’ together.

That is when it changes occur – it is like alchemy! Colours deepen, or alter altogether, sharp edges soften and round off. It loses its brittleness.

And it is almost always a surprise!

 

Glass Making Workshop at Little beach Boutique. Brighton
Teaching my first ever fused glass workshop

Blue glass wave made at Little Beach Boutique
The beauty and alchemy of glass. 
Beginners Glass Workshops at Little Beach Boutique
I think they look happy- they are certainly focused!

We hope to see you soon!

Suzanne x

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Autumn creations in Little Beach Boutique

It is a beautiful, still, Autumn day on Brighton Seafront and the sea has settled into a gentle, continuous swell after the recent storms.  The clocks have gone back and the evenings are longer; it definitely feels as if winter is just around the corner.  For me it is a time to ‘cocoon’, reflect, restore and use the longer evenings to be creative and come up with new ideas.

I recently bought a new kiln for Little Beach Boutique, so that I could remain open and make glass pieces even when the seafront is quiet and visitors to the shop are few and far between.  I started making circular brooches, inspired by the season – a leafless winter tree casts a dramatic silhouette and a tawny owl on a branch reminds me of the sights and sounds of a woodland walk at this time of year.  Cutting circles into glass is a bit of a challenge, due to it’s brittle nature, so each piece is made of 2 pieces of 3mm glass layered and fused together to form a smooth pebble-like finish.   They are fired a second time to fuse the image to the glass and I have attached a badge finding on the back to complete it.

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I have also been experimenting with making layered glass pendants and creating landscapes and seascapes in glass.  I never throw away my glass offcuts – there is always a use for those small pieces – and making fused glass jewellery is the perfect use for them.

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This piece is a seascape, made from layering small pieces of glass to a thickness of about 6mm.  It is made of small ‘frit’ (ground glass), to create a sand effect and strips of white, blue, coloured and ‘dichroic’ glass, which creates a shimmer.  It was full fused, and after cooling, I filed it down to round off any bumps or irregularities in the shape.  I then layered on the flying birds decal before kiln-firing a second time.  I was pleased with the result; it certainly draws the eye when worn.

I was inspired by these first few pieces so I am going to make all sorts of winter scenes with glass.  They make perfect handmade gifts and stocking fillers as well,  so I suspect each of my friends will be receiving one!

I absolutely love making glass and will never tire of the thrill of opening the kiln and seeing what kind of alchemy has occurred.  If you would ever like to have a lesson in glass fusing, or see how it’s done, do contact me or pop into Little Beach Boutique – http://www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now

Suzanne x

Making Fused Glass Boat Tiles – a short demo

This week at Little Beach Boutique I have been making glass Sailing Boat tiles and I thought I’d show my readers how they’re made, using this piece (pictured below) as an example.

Framed Fused Glass Boat Tile

Fused Glass Boat Tiles – Layering Glass to go into the kiln

I love seaside hues and pastel tones and think they are perfect for a bright and breezy piece like this.

I use Bullseye Glass, as their colour range is fantastic. For these boats I have chosen Turquoise and Lilac ‘Opalescent’ Glass, which is opaque, holds it’s colour well and stands out against any background.

First of all, cut out the boat shapes with a glass cutter- – it can be a bit tricky as the glass is brittle. I’ve gone for quite simplified geometric shapes but you can be as elaborate as you like!

I have used a clear piece f 3mm ‘Tekta’ as a base and I’ve cut this piece to 6 x 4 inches. Straight onto this piece, I have placed a piece of Copper leaf. It is very thin and quite fiddly, but cut it so that the edges don’t quite meet the edge of the glass.  When it is fired it goes a beautiful blue colour and produces small bubbles for a wonderful watery effect.

Now – the magic dust! Sprinkle small amounts of bicarbonate of soda carefully. I use this loads in my glass, as I love bubbles – it adds texture and tactility and continues the watery theme. Tiny pinches will produce lovely bubbles, but too much will cause the bubbles to burst, so use no more than about 2mm lumps.

Then place a second piece of clear tekta glass straight over this. It will trap air which tries to escape when the glass is heated and expands to cause bubbles. On top on that, layer the boats, as shown below.

How to Make Fused Glass Tiles
Making fused Glass Sailing Boats

Once the boats are arranged where you want them, you can add detail and texture to the glass. Here, I have  cut curves into a 2mm piece of turquoise glass, to form ‘waves’ ad then sprinkled a mixture of fine frit and powdered glass which I have mixed up with broken ‘stringers’ and dichroic glass for added sparkle. The colours I have used are Opaque White, Turquoise and Clear Dichroic frit in various forms. Just sprinkle freely on top.

You might want to add some detail to your boats – I have used an enamel pen to draw on them. You could add names or number if you like.

Then, FIRE it!! This piece has been fired to 780*C. You’ll get a lovely effect in areas where there are slightly larger amounts of bicarbonate of soda, with white frit scattered on top, like this picture….

Made from fused glass – sailing boat wave panel

Framed Boat Tile

When it has finished cooling, you can use this tile as a coaster, slump into a dish, or make a beautiful piece of glass wall art by framing it. You could also stamp it with your favourite phrase, like I have done here.

That’s it for now!  I’d love to hear about your experiences if you have tried to make something like this.  All pieces can be viewed in my shop or on my website  www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now!

Making images in glass using silkscreens – a little tutorial

Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-1

I’ve been asked by lots of visitors to Little Beach Boutique how I make the glass silk screen coasters that have been new to the shop this year, so I thought I would show you here, with the aid of a few photos, which I hope will help.

Using silk-screens is a great way to add a personal touch to your fused glass – you can create a silk-screens from your own drawings and have a completely unique range.  All you need is a bit of inspiration – and living by the sea gives me plenty of that.

So, for my recent range of Brighton-inspired coasters, I have made silk-screens from my favourite landmarks, first taking images of Brighton Pier, the Royal Pavilion and the West Pier and drawing them onto acetate paper.

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-2

I bought some blank silk screens from a local supplier which I found online. To transfer the image onto the stretched silk, you need a dark-room to expose them, which, like most people, I don’t have.  So, my hand-drawn images were sent with the screens to a local screen-printing workshop who do it for between £12-14.  Much cheaper than building a dark room.

After a few days I had my silk-screens with the images that can be used again and again…

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-3

Ready for printing,  the next step is to choose and cut the piece of glass you require, depending on what you are making, and lay it under the screen.  I usually choose 2mm enamel glass for the base.

TOP TIP – smooth down the edges and corners of each piece of glass or it will slice the silk immediately!  I have bought a grinder for this purpose – they are frequently used by stained-glass artists and can be bought via a stained-glass supplier online.  It was a bit of an outgoing to start with (£80-£100) but definitely worth it, as it saved me the pain of destroying my silk-screens every time I went near them!

So – mix the enamel powder of your choice with an oil-based medium.  It needs to be a treacle-consistency.  Spoon it over the top of your image, before pressing over the full image with a ‘squeegy’, which is tool not dissimilar to what you use for wall-papering.  This squeezes the enamel through the holes in the screen and transfers the image onto the glass below.

Repeat this process 2-3 times to ensure an even coverage, like this …

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-4

Make sure the whole of your image has been evenly transferred with enamel, lift the screen carefully…

Et voila!

…A piece of glass with Brighton Pier on it…

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-5

Let the enamel dry before dusting with a layer of fine crystal clear glass powder and cover with a layer of clear sheet glass.  The layer of powder prevents bubbles from surfacing, which can happen frequently when fusing two pieces of glass. I have chosen to use a 2mm piece of ‘driftwood grey’ enamel glass under a 3mm piece of clear base tekta glass.

I fire my coasters to 773*C – that seems like enough for a lovely smooth edge and soft corners, while maintaining the shape.

Open the kiln, take them out and fire up the kettle as you now have some fabulous coasters!

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-6

So, your shopping list:

2mm opalescent glass

3mm tekta base glass

Fine Crystal Clear powder

Enamel

Oil Based mixing medium

A squeegy

A silk-screen

and some of your favourite images…

I hope this has been helpful.  You can find the whole range of glass coasters and dishes here http://littlebeachboutique.com/collections/handmade-glass

Do contact me if you would like to know more, at littlebeachboutique@googlemail.com

Enjoy!

 Suzanne x

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Making Waves with Glass

Making-Waves-with-Glass-image1

I’ve always loved making things.  When I was younger, my best friend and I used to get the train to Brighton to scour flea markets for discarded necklaces and solitary earrings that we could break up and re-form, and scan each tiny wooden tray in the bead shop on Sydney Street with a basket to fill with charms, wires and findings.  We’d sell our eclectic creations to the people on our road and give the money we made to various good causes.  I’ve still got the letters from local charities thanking us for the ‘generous’ sums of up to about £7.00 which raised on their behalf!

I first tried my hand at fusing glass a few years ago after doing a weekend workshop at the Open Studios on Brighton Beach.  After renting a studio space for a few months, I bought myself a kiln and turned my spare room into a space in which I could tinker to my heart’s content.  I’d put different items in the kiln to see what happened.  I’m certainly no scientist, but I can appreciate whatever alchemy occurs when the lid is closed and the heat is turned up. When glass melts and re-forms, something entirely new happens.  Colours transform and merge, shapes soften and bubbles appear, rusty coppers turn a sheer blue.

Quite naturally, the glass I started making seemed to be a reflection of my surroundings -frothy blue waves, though, in reality they are often a lot more grey in Brighton!

Making-Waves-with-Glass-image2

The piece above is made with two sheets of 3 mm Clear Base , 2mm Bullseye Turquoise Glass, White Opal Stringers, White Opalescent Medium Frit, Copper Leaf and Bicarbonate of Soda.

Lay 2-3 sheets of copper foil onto a sheet of clear base glass, overlapping if you want darker blue in some places.  Scatter small amounts of bicarbonate of soda on to the foil -use no more than a couple of pen-tip sizes in any one place, or the bubble could burst!  Lay the second piece of clear glass on top,  making sure the edges meet.

Cut waves & arcs into Turquoise Glass and lay on top on the clear glass in your chosen arrangement.  Then scatter generously with Frit and Stringers.  Fire to a maximum of 780*C.  Bullseye have a great firing schedule on their website http://www.bullseyeglass.com.

Enjoy!

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.