Thursday, April 26, 2012

This morning's catch

One grass snake. With the odd tooth-shaped dent in, but no apparent blood. I scooped him up on the end of a stick and he slithered rapidly off into the long grass. If he has any sense, he will stay there.

Meanwhile, The Culprit is now sitting outside wondering where the snake has gone...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ann Elise's Bowl

Ann Elise is an air racer. She flies this Cessna 182:

I got it into my head to replicate her paint scheme in glass. Here it is cut, and in the kiln ready for fusing.

Next, the fused disc sits on the mould and is ready for slumping.

The finished item.

Here's a picture Ann Elise sent of the dish on her tail.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scrap Clock

One of the good things about fused glass is that you can use up all the scrap glass. Just throw it into a project and fuse that sucker! Not like with stained glass, where you end up with boxes of scrap... I need to get good with mosaics, or something.

So I took the scrap that I've accumulated from my class and the recent dishes that I made, and put it into this casting ring.

Proper glass fusing folks will spot the mistake here... I realised at 1230F that there was no barrier between the glass and metal, so if it went up to 1400+ fusing temperatures, this puppy was going to stick like glue to the steel ring, and be a right royal pain to remove, not to mention probably ruining the piece. I aborted the firing, annealed the glass and brought it back down to room temperature. Luckily, it had just got to the tack fusing stage and hadn't stuck too much to the metal; it came out without much hassle. *whew* - lesson learned!

Because it was holding together just fine by itself, I elected to fuse it without the ring (not that I think it would have gone back in anyway). So eight hours later, I had a fused disc.

And two hours (and several geological ice ages) later, I had drilled a hole with my grinder bit... verrrrryy...sloowwly.... which allowed me to turn this into the Scrap Clock you see here!

The hands that came with the mechanism were gold. Not having that; so I painted them black, and the second hand is metallic blue. Because; why not?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gratuitous Smokey Cat Photos

Because he's gorgeous, and I had my long lens out in the garden yesterday...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today's catch

Smokey brought in this lizard today. The tell-tale muffled 'mew' when he appears is always a dead giveaway that he's got something. It didn't seem harmed, so I let Smokey out the front and the lizard far away out the back.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby Mockingbirds

Here is a video of two baby Mockingbirds. You may wonder why I have them. I think we can all guess who is to blame...

Smokey brought one in this morning, and I caught him with it in the dining room. Since he'd come in through the open back door, I put him outside the front door to keep him away while I dealt with the bird. The poor little thing had been shrieking whilst in Smokey's clutches, but did not look harmed. I put him into some tissues, in a small box, and he settled down to some quiet squeaks. I then made a call to Austin Wildlife Rehab to see what I should do with the bird. They advised me to call Austin Wildlife Rescue as they were closer to me and had a drop-in centre.

Just as I'd got off the phone, guess what? Smokey reappears with bird no.2... HEY! drop that and give it to me. I took the second bird and locked Smokey in the sun room. I put the new one in with his sibling; he didn't look harmed either. Since there was an hour before the wildlife place opened, I left the birds to quiet down and went for a shower.

On exiting the shower, I could hear wild squeaking... went back to the birds, lifted the tissue and this is how I found them! Hungry, I guess. The quiet one woke up later on, in the car.

I'd been advised that cat saliva is full of toxins and since they had been in a cat's mouth, the birds would not survive without antibiotics. So 40 minutes later - accompanied by two sets of constant loud squeakings the whole way - I was at the wildlife rescue place (it's that far of a drive away, unfortunately). They identified them as Mockingbirds and told me they naturally fall out of the nest and spend a few days on the ground, before learning to fly. These two should be OK with a bit of patching up and care.

Meanwhile, Smokey is going to be Watched...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brick Oven Update

A quick brick oven update, for those of you who may be curious.

Alan has been trying to get work done on this oven all year, but has been stymied by the weather and cold temperatures that prevent him using the fire cement. But he has made some progress over the last couple of weekends.

He is up to five rows of brick! You can really see the hemisphere taking shape now.

And he has made the first row of bricks of the arched tunnel. Here they are on the former. Alan made a new former which is much better than the first one; he found a better material to make the curved top with and it's a proper curve now, rather than the creased cardboard he had before. So now we have a nice regular arch of bricks.

And for the first time, we can get a sense of how it will be to look down the tunnel into the oven.

Two Bowls

Here's a couple of round designs, in the kiln and ready to be fused. They are sitting on Thinfire paper, which is a ceramic-infused paper that gives a nice surface on glass, and doesn't stick to the glass like kiln wash does. I've weighted down the corners with some firebrick offcuts from Alan's oven.

Eight hours of fusing later, we have two nice smooth glass discs!

Now, it is time to try slumping some glass. I purchased some slumping moulds from Bonny Doon in California. They are bottomless, so the bases of the pieces will always be flat. And I just liked the cute small sizes of these bowls - 5,6 and 7 inches in diameter. The steel ring is a casting mould; of which, more later...

The two blanks were both 6" in diameter, so I used the two larger moulds. It doesn't matter if you don't fill a mould completely but you just can't let glass slump over the edge, if it's too wide.

I set the kiln to a slumping cycle, up to 1230F and hold for 10 minutes. I peeked inside at the end of the hold to make sure the glass had gone all the way to the bottom of the moulds, and it had, so I did not need to extend the hold. This morning, all was cool again, and this is what I found:

I took the bowls out of the moulds, washed off the residual dust and here we are!:

A closer look

So there we go; my first actual proper pieces, made in my own kiln.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Kiln

I enjoyed doing my fused glass class. A lot. And it would be nice to continue to be able to make such pieces. This, of course, requires a kiln... So here it is; The Beast, my own glass fusing kiln :-)

It is a Paragon CS-16D; 16 inches square and 6.5 inches deep (inside dimensions). This is big enough to make large dishes with, and the like.

Here it is with the body open. You can build items directly on the shelf this way.

Here are my first test pieces, on the shelf and ready to go.

A wider angle look at it, with just the lid raised this time.

The full fuse firing took a little over eight hours, and this picture shows the kiln at the highest temperature of 1492F (it was hovering +/-2F around the 1490 I programmed it to reach). The kiln will store four programs and run automatically. I've only programmed the fuse firing so far; in due course I will be slumping and doing other things, I am sure.

Although the kiln stops running after eight hours or so, it takes forever to cool those last few hundred degrees back to room temperature, so this was what I found the next morning. Fused pieces!

A closer look at the bubbles and frit. You make regular bubbles by taking two pieces of ribbed glass and fusing them at 90 degrees to each other. The orange frit in the brown piece was dropped into the grooves of another piece of ribbed glass, with the brown on top. Just to see what it would do.

So there you go... watch this space for Shiny Items!