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Blue Bird Tile

Knowledge – Confidence – Inspiration

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 summer 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 available on my website link 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.

Happy Fusing!


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Make a Fused Glass Sink Webinar

April 18, 2023

In this comprehensive Webinar, I’ll guide you step by step through the time-tested processes I use to make large-scale, functional vessels.

You’ll learn safe handling techniques for cutting oversized circles, how to fuse and slump thick pieces to retain consistent bowl height, plus trade-secrets for worry free drilling.

In addition to fabrication know-how, you’ll receive a complete supply list, specifics on kiln requirements, source information for the slumping mold and drill kit, as well as helpful installation tips.

With all the professional tricks revealed, you’ll gain the confidence and knowledge needed to make your own dazzling beauty.

Wait…there’s more!

In addition, I demonstrate how to make a glittering dichroic sink. I’ll also show you how to make a cast glass sink from nipped glass pieces, dichroic bits and frit. Plus, you’ll be guided through the various cold-working steps I use to finish the cast glass sink edge to a glamorous, professional, quality polish.

I hope you’ll join me!

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