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The Incredible & Amazing Value of Test Firings

Don’t run away screaming! I hate wasting time and throwing material away on test firings just as much as you do. Or at least I used to. But the truth is, you’ll have faster artistic growth and a more expansive set of techniques to work from, if you learn to love test firing.

Make it fun.

Envy from Advanced Glass Fusing Video

When firing a planned project, I tuck a small test piece in the kiln on the corner of the shelf. This way I have the main project to look forward to, and a bonus project to learn from.

I had a sculptural piece of art in mind for years. It was a good fit for my new video, Advanced Glass Fusing, but I didn’t know if I could pull the piece off. In my minds eye, the art curved in apposing directions. It had a strong linear pattern, accented with windows on the tips of three wings. The intricate design represented a lot of time and intense attention to detail.

Before committing to cutting the glass for the design I wanted to be sure I could create the fluid shape I wanted. I made a custom mold by draping 1” thick fiber blanket over a series of ceramic bricks and kiln posts.

The artwork would be ¼” thick. I cut a piece of double thick clear fusible glass to the size and shape of the intended art and slumped it over my custom mold. The slumped shape was close to what I envisioned. But it was too shallow and lacked dramatic flair. I made the mold steeper, giving it a more severe angle.  I also increased the hold time at my conservative slumping temperature of 1220 degrees from 20 minutes to 35 minutes. The second piece of double thick slumped beautifully. The glass had a graceful curve and broad sweeping wings.

When I assembled the intricate pieces to make the artwork I did it with confidence knowing it would be slumped in a way worthy of the effort.

That feeling of artistic freedom was empowering. It also spurred new design directions that drive me to experiment further.

Test firing is valuable on every artistic level, small scale as well as large scale.

Arctic Freeze from Advanced Glass Fusing Video

The project doesn’t have to be bold or revolutionary for you to benefit from testing a new way of construction. When making a piece that would feature a decorative element cut from a combed glass slab, I wanted to include a second pattern that reinforced my color scheme. I fired a small test of the colors I selected. Later, I used that information to create a beautifully detailed pattern blank. The blank was the perfect complement to the combed component.

Fire Storm from Fun & Fanciful Fusing Video

Before making Fire Storm for my new video, Fun & Fanciful Fusing I test fired tiny bits of glass. I wanted to determine which temperature would give me the best shiny edge quality, while retaining the irregular shapes I liked. As it turned out, I preferred the look of the pieces after being fired to a slump temperature, not the fire polish temperature.

Even failed tests have value.

A student in one of my classes made a project where they stacked a transparent amber glass on a transparent purple glass. The project was UGLY! But they created a beautiful, Winnie the Pooh brown. Now as a finished project, it was awful. But as a learning tool it was priceless. We now know how to make a rich, warm brown color on demand.

The takeaway is this; test firing is not a waste of time or materials. It’s an investment in the future of your artistic growth.

Happy Fusing!


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Fire & Ice

Advanced Glass Fusing 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop May 24-27, 2022

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Make Fire & Ice!

Join me and take your glass fusing to the next level!

In this class, you will push the boundaries art glass imposes. Students will explore innovative approaches to design and combine multiple advanced techniques to construct original art that reflects their own personal style. You’ll enjoy: the one-on-one instruction, making multifaceted projects, the well-equipped classroom, and the intimate class size.

You’ll love the concentrated, in-depth study and creative momentum you’ll gain while actively producing, nonstop for four consecutive days. You’ll leave class with a working knowledge of kiln operation, custom project specific firing guides, and the inspiration you’ve been craving to go bigger and do more elaborate works of fused glass art!

Creative Slumping Webinar

June 2, 2022

Join me and see how thinking outside the box and using ready made molds in new ways offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms.

I’ll challenge and motivate you to transform your ordinary projects into inspiring, sculptural pieces of art!

I’m back with my popular Webinar, Creative Slumping. In this detailed Webinar, I’ll reshape the way you slump and drape glass. See how thinking differently and using ready-made molds in new ways offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms. You’ll also learn how to make your own graceful, free-form shaped molds from readily available materials with no laborious measuring or messy mixes needed.

But we aren’t finished there…

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!

Don’t miss this opportunity! Webinars are a great way to get together and share the craft we love with enthusiastic artists around the world. I hope you’ll join me!

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Downloadable instructional videos for every skill level.

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