Happiness is a garden in bloom. This charming blue bird scene may be small, but it’s just the right size to bring the beauty of spring into your home or garden. Despite the detail, this tile is fast, easy and FUN to make.
Many of my designs originate from drawings I make on my computer in my office. But sometimes I like to go out into my studio and let designs evolve organically. I may have a theme or direction, but not much else. I let my creative mood, the mysteries of glass, and the magic that lives in my studio take over. This freestyle approach is thrilling because it brings a new life back to a familiar art by inspiring unique project ideas.
When creating this piece, I wanted to make a spring time scene including a bird. The rest of the design came together as I worked. The result was a combination of different techniques that gave the garden theme a deeper, more interesting quality. This unusual mix of methods makes this simple design more exciting to create. Plus, it ramps up the intricacy and overall appeal of the finished artwork. This tile size format is a great practice piece. Use it to experiment with innovative techniques that you can further develop to take your projects in exciting new directions.
Most fused glass is built on a plain clear or white glass base. Instead of thinking of the base simply as a platform, consider it an additional place to add to the design. Include details that will enhance the surface design to intensify the visual impact of the artwork. Here, I’m creating lush underbrush, faint leafy accents, and a crisp blue sky to create a cheerful backdrop for my garden scene.
Before you jump in, here are some tips for designing on the base layer.
Apply only powder size frit on the base glass. This minimizes the number and size of any bubbles that might form.
Use opal, high contrast colors. This ensures the colors are true to the original glass selected and not muddy mixes. It also gives you strong color density that appears solid, not diluted.
Start with the lighter frit colors. Then layer the darker colors on top, in moderation, to ensure the lighter colors show through.
Don’t be skimpy when applying the powders. The frit should cover the white glass completely and evenly. If you question whether you have enough frit, add more.
To make this piece, start by cutting white glass into an 8” square. To make the lush underbrush, sift opal light green powder along the bottom of the glass. Create a graceful arch that reaches up toward the top corners. Be sure to leave room for the sky. Sift opal blue powder to make the sky.
Using the pattern as a guide, cut a fern stencil out of stiff paper with a razor knife. I use a file folder,
or some poster board for my stencils. If handled carefully, these stencils are reusable. Otherwise you can buy a plastic leafy stencil from a craft store.
Place the stencil on the powder-covered glass. Sift opal dark green powder frit over the stencil. Carefully remove the stencil. Dump the excess frit from the stencil on a spare sheet of paper to collect later. Repeat the fern pattern as many times as you like. Be sure to extend a few ferns up into the blue sky to soften the hard edge between the green and blue background. Set the frit-covered glass aside. Place it in a safe location where it won’t be disturbed.
Cut a piece of clear glass into an 8” square for the design layer.
Use the pattern as a guide to make the flowers. Or, for more organic shapes cut a 3/8” strip of opal orange glass. Cut the strip into 1” pieces. Next divide the orange pieces in half diagonally to make a series of varying sized triangles. Make one rectangular shaped piece per flower for the front petal. Round out the flower petal edges with the grinder. Dry and clean the ground glass. Assemble the flowers on the clear glass layer, as shown.
Using the pattern as a guide cut the bird out of opal blue glass. Grind the cut glass to improve the shape and fit. Dry and clean the bird pieces. Assemble the bird on the clear glass base. Glue the cut pieces to the clear base with fuser’s glue, applying the glue with a toothpick. Use the smallest amount possible to prevent hazing.
Bending stringers is fast and fun. Here are some tips to make it easier.
You have to place the stringer directly in the candle flame for it to bend. Put only a little pressure on the stringer. If you push too hard it’ll break instead of bend.
The stringer is hot within one inch of the flame.
The stringer will be a lot hotter than you think, a lot longer than you think!!! Set it aside to cool before cutting it to size.
The black soot left behind by the flame will burn off during fusing.
The advantage to using a candle in the tin cup is it contains the hot wax and reduces messy clean ups.
Noodles can be bent in the candle, but they take more time and patience.
Bend an assortment of stringers into a variety of soft shapes. Leave a few straight for a nice linear look. Arrange the stringers on the clear glass. Use a spoon and add medium frit for the secondary flowers. Use yellow frit for the center of the open flower.
Carefully stack the bird and flower layer on the base layer. Fire to a full fuse temperature using the guide below.
Glue two saw tooth hangers using E6000 on the back of the fused glass and hang the tile on a wall.
Or you can slump the glass to make a dish using the optional guide below.
Enjoy your garden in bloom all year long.
Segment 1: Ramp 300 F/hr to 1300 and hold 30 min.
Segment 2: Ramp 500 F/hr to 1465 and hold 10 min.
Segment 3: Ramp 9999(AFAP*) to 960 and hold 40 min.
Segment 4: Cool to room temperature.
*As fast as possible
NOTE: Kilns fire differently. Test fire these guides in your kiln and then make adjustments as needed.
Blue Bird Tile as seen in Glass Patterns Quarterly Spring 2019
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I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!
Glass Craft & Bead Expo 2020
Las Vegas, NV
April 1 – April 5, 2020
There’s still time to register for my Sunday class! Act fast there are only 2 seats left.
SU-01 NEW Sculptural Fused Glass DESIGN Made Easy, 2 SEATS LEFT
Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop
September 22-25, 2020
Only 4 seats available
Wesley Chapel, Florida, 4-Day, Hands-on, Class size is limited.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like when I’m feeling the creative flow. Time flies. Hours pass in what I thought were minutes. My naturally distracted mind is focused on what my hands are doing, and nothing else. I get lost in my own world. When I return to reality, I feel rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted. That’s why I like sharing my studio space with others. I try to give them that experience and hope they feel the same inspiration and fulfillment I do. -Lisa
Join me and I’ll show you all the pro tips and tricks I use to make stunning 3-dimnesional art. You’ll learn how to combine advanced techniques in new ways to create extraordinary sculptural pieces of art.
You’ll leave class with several completed glass sculptures, my custom firing guides and a deeper understanding of sculptural fused glass fabrication. You’ll have the knowledge, confidence and inspiration you’ve been craving to take your artwork to the next level.
Materials are included, that’s a $150.00 value! Plus, a professional photo shoot of your artwork is also included.
This is the turning-point workshop you’ve been waiting for.
Here’s what the students are saying about the workshop.
“Instruction was clear, help was always available, and Lisa’s explanation of the equipment was great.” -Sherry
“My favorite thing about the class was the friendly atmosphere that encouraged open thoughts and sharing ideas.” -Lyn
“I enjoyed making all the projects, especially the flow piece and the freedom to be creative with our work.” -Joy
“My favorite thing about the class was the ability to see multiple pieces of art that originated from concepts taught.” -Vicki
“Lisa is very professional, knowledgeable and freakishly talented. House, art, mosaic, her work – really fun and beautiful.” -Lorna
“Incredible class. Lisa shared her artistic knowledge of color flow and her technical knowledge of glass.” -Larry
“I had so much fun! Lisa is a great teacher!” -Brenda
Things that surprised the students about the class.
“I was surprised by the photo booth demo-it was very helpful.” -Joy
“I was surprised by the limitless glass we had access to, for our projects.” -Lyn
“The valuable education on glass art photography surprised me.” -Sherry
“I was surprised by the hominess of your hospitality!” -Vicki
This class is for you! Any skill level can attend. Beginner, intermediate and advanced students alike will learn how to advance their glass fusing skills and expand their artistic style.
Watch it NOW! Start fusing today!
Downloadable instructional videos for every skill level.
Check out my eBooks for elegant patterns and detailed fusing instructions.