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Priming Stainless Steel Molds Made Easy

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Stainless steel molds are wonderful, versatile additions to any glass fusing studio. I love stainless steel molds for the artistic freedom they’ve given me. Recently, I’ve been exploring new, innovative ways to use these molds. I’m having so much fun with the results, I thought I’d share some of my techniques with you.

Stainless steel slumping molds offer fusers a nice variety of styles and shapes. There are some specific advantages to using stainless steel molds over ceramic molds. Stainless steel molds are light weight, and therefore easy to move in and out of the kiln. They’re durable, unbreakable, forever molds you can expect to get years of enjoyment out of. And, most styles and shapes are reversible. You can slump glass on the mold right-side-up or upside-down, depending on the artistic results you want to achieve.

One drawback to using stainless steel molds is they can be difficult to coat with kiln wash. Kiln wash, or shelf primer whichever term you prefer, prevents the hot glass from sticking to the mold during the slumping phase. Priming a mold is integral to the success of your projects. Once you understand why priming a new mold is difficult, it’s an easy problem to solve.

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The stainless steel mold manufacturer uses oil to lubricate the flat metal when they form the stillness steel into a shape. The oil residue is present on new molds when you buy them. This oil prevents the kiln wash from sticking to the mold. Instead of sticking, the kiln wash just runs off the mold. Simply remove the oil and the mold will take the primer easily.

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There are several ways to remove the oil. In my experience, the fastest and easiest way is to season the mold. The first time I fire my new stainless steel molds I fire them without any glass on them. I heat the molds to the temperature I intend to use when I slump a project on the mold. The high heat burns off the oil. It also changes the color of the metal and leaves a finish that helps the primer stick.

It’s that easy.

Fire the mold alone to 1265 degrees. Let it cool. Apply a coat or two of primer, let the primer dry and you’re ready to slump glass. I use Bullseye shelf primer. Other primers will work as well.

This S shape stainless steel mold has traditionally been used to make horizontal projects that are free standing. They’re beautiful. But I thought; suppose I make two vertical shapes on one mold and then combine them in such a way to make something totally new? Something sculptural.

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For an even greater artistic impact, I made my own glass for this project using my Free Flow method. It’s a great technique to use when you want to make your own sheet glass with a fluid, painterly quality. With the Free Flow method, you blend your own custom color mixes. And you control the visual direction of the pattern in your glass. It’s a fabulous way to expand your color palate and truly personalize your art glass.

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But the fun doesn’t stop there. After so much effort, I wanted a custom base that would present and show off this dramatic piece of art. I decided a simple clear base would enhance the art by giving it lift and allowing light to pass underneath. I fused three pieces of ¼ inch thick clear glass together. I used ½ inch thick fiber board strips to contain the three thick layers of glass while they were firing.

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My favorite thing about this piece, Wonderous is the different profiles it has from different angles. The viewer is treated to fresh new contours and different perspectives as they move around the art. The unique twists create an interactive experience that entertains and engages the viewer from every angle.

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Let your imagination run wild. Think outside the box. Try using stainless steel molds in new ways. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make interesting and unique shapes. Through the process you’ll enjoy renewed excitement and thrilling new sculptures. The possibilities are endless. Get fusing!

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Wonderous, is from my Sculptural Fused Glass Video.

Happy fusing!
Lisa

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In this detailed Webinar, I’ll reshape the way you slump and drape glass. See how thinking outside the box and using readymade molds in new ways offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms.    

You’ll learn how to make your own graceful, free-form shaped molds from readily available materials with no laborious measuring or messy mixes needed. Taking you one step further, I’ll show you how to use these different approaches, in combination, to transform ordinary projects into inspiring, sculptural pieces of art!

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2 thoughts on “Priming Stainless Steel Molds Made Easy

  1. Hello Lisa,
    Enjoyed your new info on priming SS molds. As well as the idea of thinking outside the box as to how they can be used differently.
    You show a picture of scraps of glass you used to make your own streaky colored glass, then a picture of it full fuse. Is this the same glass that is shown in the next picture laying on the SS mold? If so, how did you thin it out to get the pieces shown in the ready to slump picture? Very Curious about this.

    Thanks Lisa

    Helga

    1. Hi Helga, It’s nice to hear from you! I didn’t think the glass out. It’s about 3/8 inch thick. I cut the big slab with my Revolution XT saw then slumped it.

      Hope this helps.

      Happy fusing!
      Lisa

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