Welcome to Michigama Glass..... I hope you enjoy your visit. In this blog I'll be featuring projects, products and information on traditional stained glass, warm glass (kiln formed glass), mosaics, glass casting, ornament blowing and information on products and processes... So please come by often and see what we are up to....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Studio up and work beginning

Here it is February 7th. Finally got my studio back up and running..... My first project was a window repair job. In 1996 I had been asked to do two large windows for a local home. I had never done windows this large, but jumped at the opportunity. After working with the home owners on a design, I set out to construct them.  In late 2010, I was contacted by the home owners. During a fall clean, one of the home owners had knocked out the pins that secure the window into the frame. The window toppled forward and smashed into a metal cart, fracturing about 6 large pieces of glass. Devastated, the home owners contacted me, hoping I could do the repair work. 

Now any glass artist/craftsman will probably tell you how important it is to keep a record of the type of glass used in each project. One would think that I had done just that, but on this particular project I had no record of materials used. Frantic, I began trying to match the glass.... Unfortunately, the local shop didn't have what I needed in stock and it would take weeks to get it in. As luck would have it, I found a box of glass that I had forgotten about. I found the exact glass used from the original job in the box. I had more than enough to do the repair work.

The first step was to get the broken pieces out of the window. Not an easy task. There's always the risk of cracking or breaking other pieces nearby.Each piece has to be broken up into smaller pieces by scoring the remaining glass, running the score line and then trying to separate the pieces without breaking the surrounding unbroken bits.  As you can see, it creates quite a mess of glass shards.

The next step in the process is to reheat the lead solder and remove any excess from the new openings:
Once I had the old solder removed, I then cut out the new pieces of glass, foiled them in copper foil and began soldering them into place. This is view from the backside of the window. Solder tends to flow between the pieces and bunch up. 

Once both sides of the window are soldered, I cleaned any residue from the flux off and used a patina to give it a platinum color.....

Once delivered an installed the home owner was pleased. 


Frank Lloyd Wright Lamp

Glass Casting Project #1:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Long time in coming.....

Ok, this next post has been a long time in coming.  So much has been going on. I found a new place for a work shop. Finally a place to set up and continue....  It's small, but I can manage it and have fun.

I attempted to finish the casting project you see in posts below. I ran into one minor glitch... Well major glitch actually :-) The mold began to deteriorate when the temp of the kiln hit 1250 degrees F. So that led me to search out new mold making options. I actually found a place on the web that sells the appropriate mix for making casting molds. They also sell the crucibles that you place the crushed glass in and special kilns for firing the crucibles.... Something to look into definitely :-)

Up and coming projects are glass pendents, mosaic halloween pumpkins and Christmas stuff :-) So hopefully there will be some interesting posts coming and very soon :-)

Been a busy summer... Just not in glass ;-)

Talk soon....

Phil at Michigama

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mold Making: Step 1 in casting glass....

For my very first project in glass casting, I decided to try and make two large paper weights. I chose this project for one main reason and that is that it was an easier choice than picking a detailed carving to carve in wax, create the mold and then hope it turned out in the kiln.  Because I chose to use an item that is NOT made from wax, I must create a mold from latex to create the wax version of the object.  The only time you'd want to create a latex mold from the wax original is if you want to make more than one cast of the original wax item. This is done, because the wax version of the object is going to be used to create a mold in plaster of paris and then melted out. Thus losing the ability to make anymore casts from the original.... 


1.) Item to create mold from.  In this case, two wooden toppers I purchased from Michael's.
2.) One 16 ounce container of liquid latex. Purchased from Michael's for $14.99. This is enough to do 3 small molds. (You can purchase a gallon of liquid latex for $55 online. For larger projects this is a must).
3.) One inexpensive paint brush to brush the latex on.

Applying the Latex
There are several ways in which you can apply the liquid latex:

1.) You can dip the item into the liquid latex, making sure to coat the entire mold evenly.  It is important to make sure you have a way to suspend the entire object, so that it dries thoroughly. 
      * I only recommend this process if your object is capable of lying flat or you are wanting to make a cast from an object or design on a flat surface (see pic at bottom of section). Dipping the object wastes a great deal of latex.
2.) The preferred method is to use the brush and apply a layer, allow to dry over 24 hours, apply another layer, allow to dry and repeat the process until you have a thick enough coating to make a lasting mold.

3.) The professional mold maker will use gauze strips to reinforce the mold. By dipping a gauze strip into the liquid latex, you then apply to the mold. This is generally done on large objects and not smaller objects. 

The Picture below is an example of application style #1.  This is a project I will post later.


Once the you have applied enough latex layers to create a thick mold, you will need to remove the mold from the object.
1.) With a sharp exacto knife, score a cut deep along one side of the mold.  If the knife doesn't cut or cannot cut through the layers of latex, a pair of scissors may be used.
2.) Gently begin peeling  back the latex from the object. I do not coat my objects with anything, as the latex generally releases very easily. 

Keep in mind it may be necessary to peel the entire mold all the way back, as tho you are turning it inside out.

One you have removed the the latex from your oject, you will have a mold to create wax casts from. 

Stay tuned for the next section on how to pour the wax and prepare the wax object to be placed in plaster of paris.......

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming Posts and some of what I want this to become......

I know it's been a while since I've made any posts to the blog. Not easy going through law school and doing glass projects... And since this blog is rather new, I haven't really been sure what direction to take it in...  I do know I will probably show the "how to" bits... I also would like to explain various terms in kiln formed glass, stained glass etc... Maybe highlight techniques etc.... So please bare with me on this.
In a sense I am letting the blog determine what it wants to be... As time goes by it will definitely take shape and have better form.

I do know that I will be posting blogs shortly on the following topics:
  1.  Creating molds for lost wax method glass casting.....
  2. A "how to" on creating glass paper weights using compatible glass scrap chunks and a plaster mold made from the lost wax method.
  3. How to make fused glass pendants using dichroic glass....
  4. How to make paper weights using large globe light bulbs and 90 COE glass frit and chunks of 90 COE glass scraps......
Also, April is Michigan Glass Month.... If you live in Michigan, please make sure to check back for a post of events around the greater Detroit area celebrating the glass art......

See you soon....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Failure....

Every glass crafter or artisan has the ocassional inevitable failure... Where things do not turn out as you want them to. Here's an example of a failure that ended up bringing in money. What was supposed to be a bowl turned into a molten glob at the bottom of the mold... Someone saw the picture and purchased the item as a sofa table bowl..... Go figure :-)

Debbie's Bowl

Three years ago, a friend and I decided to trade our crafts... Debbie would make a blanket for me and I would make a bowl for her... Well, anyone that works in glass or any other medium or craft, should know that sometimes the project dictates to you how it will turn out...

Debbie's bowl was one of those projects...

I have attempted the bowl three times all together. Each time the first fuse ended up the same, despite my best attempts at the desired result. The previous two times I attempted to slump the bowl, the glass cracked due to thermal shock, no matter how slowly I ramped up the kiln.... The third attempt was successful.... Lesson to me, let the piece be what it wants to be. Don't force it.


The first step in creating any plate or bowl is to choose the design and then the materials and tools you wish to use.
Since our bowl was an attempt at a randomly layered piece, I choose to work in 90 COE glass by Spectrum.
Tools used for this project are the cutting pen, running shears, nip pliers and a mosaic cutters.

The second step is to cut your base piece. This is the piece that you will fuse the other pieces of glass onto.  I turned the bowl mold upside down and traced the outline onto paper.

Once I have the circle traced, I cut it out and glue it to the piece of clear glass.  This actually provides me with an accurate template to score around with the glass pen.  Once the base piece is cut out, I then have to grind the edges to eliminate any sharp or jagged points...  The base piece is then cleaned under warm water.

The third step is to cut up the smaller pieces of colored glass... In this project I used three types of iridized thin glass... Purple, pink and a clear.... I use the mosaic cutters to come up with random sized pieces.

Step four is probably the easiest step.... You simply place the colored pieces of glass onto the circular base piece, stacking them randomly until you have about two or three layers.... When fired flat, this should, in theory, produce an effect that resembles ice....

Step Five is fusing the pieces together in the first firing.... You can call this a flat fuse... The attempt was to fuse the piece to a point where it doesn't fuse fully flat, but rather in a state where colored pieces would melt into a mounded state looking like ice.... This means ramping the kiln to around 1300 - 1400 degrees F... Because this is not an exact science you must check on the piece every 15 - 20 minutes... Some how I missed the critical point and ended up with a fully fused piece...

Step Six is preparing the mold. Most molds used for glass sagging or slumping are composed of unfinished greenware.. This holds up to the extreme heat and can be used over and over again. Other mold types are made from copper, staineless steel and brass... Metal molds are generally used to SLUMP OVER ONLY... They tend to expand and contract and can damage or destroy a finished piece....  no matter what you use, you must first prepare the mold by coating it in at least three coats of Kiln wash.... Kiln wash is a product that prevents the glass from sticking permanently to your mold.  It comes in a powdered form and must be mixed with water. It is applied with Haik brush to the mold....


Step Seven is sagging the flat fused piece into the mold.... For this step, the mold is placed into the kiln with the flat piece carefully positioned on top. Because the piece is now MUCH closer to the heating elements in the kiln a very slow ramp up is required... The kiln will be brought from the ambient temp to 500 degrees slowly. This reduces "thermal shock" which will crack the piece. Once the kiln hits 500 degrees, we can then ramp up to bring it to 1250 - 1300 F to soften the glass enough to let gravity take over and sag the bowl into the mold, thus taking it's shape. Once the piece is fully sagged, the kiln is turned down or off and the lid kept closed. This allows the piece to cool down slowly and stay at a constant temp throughout it's thickness. This is called annealing and removes stress from the piece so it won't crack or shatter over time.

Below is a pic of the piece after it's cooled down to the ambient temp over night.

The final piece....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Welcome to Michigama Glass

Welcome to Michigama Glass..... I hope you enjoy your visit.  In this blog I'll be featuring projects, products and information on traditional stained glass, warm glass (kiln formed glass), mosaics, glass casting, ornament blowing and information on products and processes...  So please come by often and see what we are up to....