July 28, 2014

Glass Sun Catcher

Glass can sometimes be considered an inaccessible art, but I've been lucky enough to dabble in several different glass art forms thanks to Girl Scout events over the years. Last weekend, I went to BAGI again with my Girl Scout troop to learn how to make glass sun catchers from borosilicate flameworking.

So, for the Girl Scout glass experience repertoire, here we go:

The first glass art I ever tried was glass fusion, in which you place colored glass pieces on a clear piece and then melt it together. This medium is pretty accessible at several ceramic studios like Create It! in Palo Alto. 

The next medium I tried was full-blown glass blowing, which was amazing and awesome but oh-so-tiring and very hot. We were lucky enough to do a workshop at Paly, one of only about five high schools in the country with a glass blowing program. BAGI also offers classes in glass blowing.

Then I tried micro-mosaic jewelry work at Stained Glass Garden. Because we got to work with low temperatures and has abundant room for creativity, it was much less tiring to the senses-- I would like to try it again.

A couple months ago, I tried flameworking with soft glass and made some beads at BAGI. Fun but hard, and also quite tiring on the eyes. I think I would like to try it again.

And now I've added borosilicate flameworking to the list. I worked with glass tubing, colored streamers, and a propane-oxygen torch, just like for the soft glass flameworking. 

This technique was much harder than working with the soft glass. Melting the tube down to a skinnier tube is still a technique I have yet to muster. But I finally did get the hang of making streamers (above & below pics), where you melt down a little bit of a colored glass rod, and stretch it to be much thinner for easier melting onto a piece. It's a similar technique to the tube-stretching but with a much larger room for error. 

I also made some dual-colored streamers, where you twist together two different colors and stretch when they are melted to create a candy-cane type look. When you have several candy canes, it can look extra cool to twist those together to get a more diverse marble. 

Although I couldn't stretch the tube properly, I still wanted to make the sun catcher (a.k.a. an ornament in summer), so I used a pre-stretched tube. Oh, the benefits of a class! I did use my own homemade streamers to decorate the sun catcher, though.

Because I didn't spread my colored glass evenly, the tube warped into a shell or bell pepper-like shape instead of the sphere I was striving for. But for a first attempt, I think this will do just fine for me!

I still have stained glass and mosaic work on my glass bucket list. I'm sure I'll get to try them out sometime.

Happy Crafting!!

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