I am not "stringing you along" with all the microwave kiln fused glass jewelry Instructables. I am simply passing along information that I collect as I am learning. In today's episode of "Is this going to blow up my kiln" is the use of stringers in your fused glass projects. I learned a great deal and had some fun doing it.
All times will be based on a 900 watt microwave with a turntable. I used all protective equipment. Personal safety is always a must.
Step 1: What Is Required to Pull Off This Task....
This technique requires some specialty items. You will of course need the safety items you always used for fusing glass in a microwave kiln. They can be found in an earlier Instructable. You can find the link here...
You will also need:
- Obviously, a micowave kiln
- A Microwave
- Kiln paper
- a glass cutter/scorer
- straight edge
- running pliers
- base glass
- thin stringers
- thick stringers
- dichroic stringers
Step 2: Preparing Your Microwave Kiln...
You must, must, must put your kiln paper down on the base of your kiln.If you don't you won't have a kiln for very long. The glass will adhere to the base. So kiln base, kiln paper and base glass and stringers.
The glass I chose was a ridged glass. It can be purchased at Hobby Lobby for 7.99 per sheet. If you look back at the previous photo, it shows the ridges a little bit better. I chose this so the stringers would have a specific starting position. If all goes as planned, the ridges will close up around some of the stringers and you will have a smooth surface if that is the look you are going for. My collection is a mixed bag. Some smooth pastel colors, some textured darker colors, and finally a great deal of pizzazz and texture.
Step 3: Thin Stringers
I used fuseworks brand thin stringers. These can be purchased at Hobby Lobby or on-line.
In the first photo, you can see how the stingers laid in the grooves. Now based on what I thought I knew about the glass, I thought I could fire it like I normally do. So I fired it at 1 minute at 100%. Allowed it to rest for 1 minute. Fired it again for one minute. Allowed another one minute rest. Then fired it for a 1 1/2 minutes. This is the final firing. I (with my hot mitts) remove it from the microwave and set the kiln on my brick and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.
When I removed the lid, it was perfectly fused. Test one successful.
On to the next experiment. In the last photo you can see the difference between thin strings and thick stringers. That will be the next adventure.
Step 4: Thick Stringers
These are also fuseworks and are purchased from the same sources.
I tried the same formula with the thick stringer as I did with the thin; with no success. As you can see in the second photo, the tink happened. The tink is the sound that breaking glass makes. It tinked during the second minute of firing. Now, although I knew the glass had broken, we completed the fire so that the kiln paper would give off that hideous smell as it out gasses.
It was now time to adjust the formula. So I lowered the power on the microwave to 70 % and tried another sample. This formula produced no noticeable result. No fuse at all.
I refired this piece with a new piece of kiln paper and the same glass from the 70% attempt. No point in wasting the glass.
I fired it at 100% this time but in different increments. Fire 45 seconds, rest 45 seconds, fire 45 seconds, rest 45 seconds, fire 1 minute, rest one minute, fire 30 seconds and remove from the microwave.
As you can see, it drew down, meaning the base glass changed drawing in toward the stringers. Also, it didn't close smoothly on the surface, it still has the texture it began with but it did not break.
Step 5: Dichroic Stringers
Dichroic stringers are very cool indeed. Unlike thin and thick stringers which are round, these are flat backed. More strip like than tubular shaped. They have the luster finish like standard dichroic glass only thinner strips. The only difference is that when you buy a strand of it, it had the entire rainbow of colors in a single stick.
Dichroic stringers come in clear or black backed. I chose the black backed. It is not cheap. One strand can cost you around 10 bucks. So it is not what you want to play with a lot unless you have an endless supply of cash then hey, go for it.
We found these on a field trip to a glass shop in our region. I found some other goodies there that you may hear about real soon.
I wanted to make sure that I didn't hear the tink on this one. It is hard to get replacements quickly so I wanted to make sure this one went right. I broke the strands with my fingers. It is not a tough glass. As with the other samples, I place it in the grooves as much as possible.
The formula I used on this one was to heat the glass gently but quickly. To bring up the heat, let it cool down and repeat it until I felt the fuse was secure.
I chose to heat it up for 30 seconds, cool for 30 seconds. I did this for 6 rotations. Removed it from the microwave and set it on the brick to cool for 30 minutes.
The fuse was smooth and the dichroic appears to have "risen to the top" truthfully, it just settled down on the ridges as the glass melted beneath it allowing support.
I have to admit, although expensive, these were a ton of fun. Totally worth each and every penny spent.
Step 6: And Once Again, With Some Buffing, You Are Ready to Make a Pendant...
As you can see with one additional twist to your fusing, you can get many different looks. The thin stringers give you a bit of color. The thicker stringers due to their original diameter give you a bigger pop of color. The dichroic stingers have the total BAM effect. All that metallic looking color, it is something else.
Stringers are fun, it makes you stretch a little and you don't have to use a textured base glass. You can use smooth, just remember it might be somewhat more difficult to get it to stay, some stringers are round and they roll.
Now that you have the fused glass, just buff it and you can wrap it, put a bail on it, just anything you would like to do and wear it or share it.
Until next time,
Love, peace and cupcakes.