Overthinking glass bowls

Sometimes, when you make stuff, you overthink it.  When you find the real solution, you kick yourself because it is so easy and so simple, how did you not see it before?

Case in point, fused Roman bowls.  Fused Roman Mosaic bowl

I made one such bowl as part of a pentathlon.  I tried to approximate making “millifore” to make a small bowl.  It was a giant pain.  When Lucretia was elevated to the Laurel, I made this for her.

I used a different method to make this bowl.  Lucretia’s Fused Roman Mosaic bowl   I cut strips of glass from a square sheet.  Follow the link for the process.  This again was a bit of pain.

I then wanted to try for a more “roman” type shape, a high sided bowl.  My local glass shop couldn’t slump it properly over the model.  There was a lot of glass folding in on itself.  So I tried to make bowls like Lucretia’s again.  I don’t have photos of the process.

But as I was driving to the glass shop, I figured out the problem and why this way is a pain.  I was overthinking the problem.

Let me lay it out for you.   To make the flat plate in the “old” way, I had to cut strips of various sizes to fit a 9″ circle.  I had to nip the ends to make it fit.  Pieces were irregular in width.  I had to spend several hours across different days to make all the pieces fit.  I thought, there has to be an easier way to get pieces into a circle.  The answer is obvious; start with a circle.

So last night, I cut the pieces for two new bowls in about an hour.

First to choose the glass.  I choose these from my stash.

Then cut them into 9″ circles with my strip cutter.

There is a nice trick to break out almost perfect circles.  Once cut, you flip it over on a soft surface, like a towel, and use your hands to gently (or sometimes not so gently) propagate the crack.

And you get this



I also need a substrate between the two sides so a thin layer of clear glass serves for that.

  I tried to show the score line in the glass.  I am not sure you can see it.

Then you take the strip cutter and cut the circles into strips, ~ 0.5″ wide.


Then chose the parts from each to make the flat that will be fused.


There will be one on each side.  Turn the one set upside down and stack.



These are now ready for the kiln to be fused into flats then slumped over the bowl mold.  Viola!  Fused bowls that in the Roman style.


Glass, SCA Life

Making fused plates – Hadley edition

Here is how I make my glass plates from the beginning.  I was given a drawn sample of what Hadley’s submitted arms were.  I then made this mock up to work from.

I chose the glass and went to work.

Starting with the green.  I had this scrap of glass from a previous project.  I cut it to size.


I didn’t have the blue so I clean it, measure , and cut it to size.

So those two are very easy, just straight cuts.

I line them up and put them on a piece of clear glass to give the final piece its needed thickness.

Next come the circles.

This was my first attempt on the white circle.


Not too bad until I try to break it out.

I am shown a trick this time.  Score the circle and push it out on top of a surface that can give slightly (like a couple of cloths).  Turn the cut glass over and push it gently to run the crack.  If you look above, you can see where the crack ran from the circle to the edge and that is okay.  Nice looking circle there.

Do it again for the clear glass on top.

This is another trick I learned.  Others said to draw on the clear like a stentil and fuse that.  So I did.


It was much easier than I thought.  Having done it for this piece, I am reasonably sure I can do the same for Willows, Oaks, and Cavendish Knots.


I then cut out the stars and crescent on the ring saw.

As I say, it isn’t art until you bleed on it.  I made art.

And the final plate ready for the kiln.

The final piece.  You can see the paint smudged in the lower roots.  In hindsight, I should have wiped that off and started again but I was nearly finished when I hit a bit of water in the paint.  Overall, I am pretty happy with it.  It is the plate I have shown the most technique with and solved (with advice) a problem that was limiting what I could create.  Enjoy it Hadley 🙂

Glass, Persona, SCA Life

Making fused plates – abridged

I will have a more detailed post later about a different plate I did.  But here is a quick post about how I make my 12″ x 12″ fused glass plates.  This one is for my device as a sample plate for my display.

I had already cut the glass before I got to the shop.  My device isn’t that complex, other than the swan.

So first thing is again, glass likes to be ~1/4″ thick when it melts.  There are ways to force it.  But for my purposes, just use two sheets of 1/8″ thick glass.  I am spraying hairspray onto a clear piece to bulk out the plate.  I will then put the blue and green pieces on this clear piece.

Yep.  Just plain ole cheap hairspray.  I am told I use too much so I may need to cut back a bit on it.  It does burn off but on large pieces of glass, it has to get out somewhere. If it can’t, it makes bubbles.  So I will cut back a bit.

Adding the blue and green.  You can also see the swan on an irridescent white piece of glass.  I was normally use white for the swan but I had a scrap of irridescent.

The pieces of glass are supposed to be 12″ square but they rarely are.  And sometimes my cutting isn’t the best either.  This is just a hair off center (less than 1/8″).  It will have to be good enough.

Now for the tricky part.  I use a ring saw to cut out the swan.  Just Elmer’s paste glue to glue the paper to the glass.  The water in the ring saw quickly saturates the paper but it usually holds it in place long enough.

There are a few spots to be touched up.  Because the glass will melt in the kiln, most of the small imperfections will smooth out by themselves. I touch up the spots I can get to with the ring saw or a normal grinder.  But I am not too worried about it.

And there we go.  Ready for the kiln.

This will be part of my Artist’s Display.  I have been advised that I need to have examples of my own work.  Since I give so much away, I need to make a few pieces that I don’t give away.  Where we go.  My device is pretty simple.

Glass, SCA Life

Making Purple Frets

At Crystal Chamfron, I started work on a project I wanted to do for a while, making award medallions.

When I received my purple fret, I got a belt favor.  It was one of my prize possessions for a while.  I am not inclined to wear a lot of regalia so I only wear my Dragon’s heart now.

But I felt that people would like a special token for their awards and the Purple Fret is both possible to do in glass and important to me.

For this project, I decided that a 2″ in diameter circle is a good size.

First, cut the glass to 2.5″ by 2.5″ squares.  As a reminder, fused glass wants to be about 1/4″ thick.  I need to cut the yellow glass for the normal background of a purple fret and another color to provide the additional thickness.  I chose white because it is cheap and I had it.


The next step is to make circles.  You can do this by hand but there are special tools to make it easier and more accurate.  For this, I used a lens cutter.


I cut all the white circles and most of the yellow circles before I ran out of yellow glass.

To do the knot part of the purple fret, I used noodles.  Glass noodles are like linguine.  They come in 16″ lengths and about 1/8″ thick.  I played around with the placement to make the knot.  I was asked, “could I make it look interweaved like the drawn image?”  The answer is “yes with a but.”  Some of those lines are pretty small and manipulating small pieces of glass is tricky.  I compromised and did the following.

The “square” of the knot is made up of 1″ lengths.  The “x” of the knot is 2″ lengths.  Here I am cutting the noodle into the smaller pieces I need.

There is specialty glass glue to temporary join the glass together.  Fusing is needed to permanently make it one piece.  But that said, plain Suave Extra Hold Hairspray actually works better than that specialty glue.  Here I am spraying the hairspray onto the yellow circles before moving the purple noodle pieces.

Since the purple pieces intersect each other, I need to build them up in layers.  I start with one of the long pieces and two short ones.  Bisect the circle with the long piece and get the short pieces half way between the long piece and the circle edge.  It will look a little like a Deadpool icon 🙂

By this point, the hairspray is going to start to get tacky.  I use my exacto blade to more precisely move the pieces around until they are where I want them.


Not shown is hitting the piece with more hairspray.  But now I am adding the cross pieces to make the square part of the knot.  Again, I use the exacto blade for precision.  Also not shown is adding the last long piece but the process is the same.  Spray more hairspray, place the long piece going perpendicular to the first long piece.  Use the exacto knife to move the piece precisely.  Then put the piece aside for the hairspray to dry.

I wrapped the pieces in paper loosely but securely.  I often have trouble going from my house to the glass store to fuse.  The “glued” pieces tend to slide around with the bumps and such on the road.  However, I was surprised by how few pieces got out of place going from basically St Louis to Champaign (~3 hour drive).

The next step hasn’t happened yet but then I will cut lengths (~1/2″) of heavy wire to be a ring for the medallion.  The wire will then be hairsprayed between the white glass back and the yellow glass front.  In the kiln, the wire will sink in the glass as it fuses and be a permanent part of the medallion.

I expect to be done in time to give these to Their Majesties by Martial RUM or Simple Day at the latest.


Finished product right to gift.

By and large, I am happy with them.  I could paint the lines on but I am not sure that would help.  I might try to replicate the knot better in the future.

Glass, SCA Life

Glass plates

I guess one of the things I have become known for my fused glass.  Brynn gets on me because I do so many straight lines.  Straight lines are easy for mass production though.  But that said, many of my fused pieces don’t have straight lines.

But let’s back up a bit first.  I have always had glass.  The travelling glass maker at the mall was my favorite when growing up. My college education is in high tech Ceramics and we had to have a glass class as part of that.  I loved it.  I did a story for our newsletter Called Romancing the Glass.   I recounted how more than 20 years ago, I wanted to try my hand at stained glass.  But 20 years ago, it wasn’t the right time so I got rid of all of my equipment.  About 5 to 6 years ago, I finally started to learn how to do copper foil stained glass.  Then lead came.  Then fusing.  I like fusing the best.  I like the clean lines of it.  The glass is more expensive but with the other styles, you end up paying the same kind of cost somewhere else (solder, cement, foil, etc).

Some notes on fused glass.  Due to surface tension, glass wants to be ~7 mm thick or not quite 0.25″.  Sheets of glass are generally sold in 0.125″ sheets.  So to prevent shrinkage in the fuse, you generally need at least 2 layers of glass to fuse.  I will often use clear glass for this purpose but I will use whatever I have on hand if needed.

These were some of my first fused plates.  My device of course.  These are 6 inch plates and are part of my feast kit.  I use a ring saw to cut complex shapes like the swan.

I am pretty sure this was my second plate.  It is for the heads of my household, House FoxRose.  When I make plates for vigilants, etc, I tend to make a 12 x 12 curved bottom plate.  That is the mold my glass shop has and I like it.  It is big enough to be seen and displayed.  I am very pleased with the Fox on this one.

These were the next two and I think I started hitting my stride.  The left was for Mistress Roana and the right for Baroness Verena.  I used glass paint to do the quatre-foils and markings on the badger.  For the right plate, I ended up accidentally using iridescent clear glass and you can see a bit of a sheen between the orange and yellow tiles.

These two were my next two.  Mistress Petrona to the left and Mistress Kendra to the right.  Petrona’s plate was some of the more difficult cutting I had done to date.  Again glass paint to do the leaf markings.

I visited the Barony of Three Rivers for Chieftans and made these 6″ plates as a gift.  I hope they are put to good use.


Ok, this isn’t a plate.  It is a bowl.  I had done a fused Roman mosaic style bowl for my pentathlon and then my friend Domina Lucretia was elevated so I did a bowl in a Roman mosaic style.  The word “mosaic” might be confusing here.  We tend to use it modernly to reference to an image composed of small colored pieces, often of stone or glass.   In this case, the word mosaic is more of reference to the multi-colored nature of the piece.  Mosaic glass was composed of a variety of colors.

The Heart of the Midlands challenge involved making regalia for another group.  Shattered Crystal wanted servingwear.  I made these plates as part of that challenge.

To the left is a plate for Mistress Sofya and to the right for Master Avery.  Avery’s plate is the first I did that wasn’t the person’s device.  Why?  Avery’s device is far to complex for me to actually do.  But his badge was much easier.  The fox looks like more rat like that I would have liked.  In truth, I should have done everyone’s plate as their badge (if they had one).  The device means the person, not the person’s stuff.  But most people have a device that can be found.  Not everyone has a badge.

This one I did for Master Gunnar.  It is the perfect device for him.  It looks simple.  But in reality, it is very complex.  I mostly succeeded in lining all the pieces up to make the circle and points hit right.  The “NE, SE, SW,and NW” points if you will are just a tad bit too towards the center.  They should have been pushed out a little bit more.  Also, cutting sharp angles into glass is very tricky.  The “triangles” are actually two straight cuts abutting each other.  You can see a little gapping here and there.  That all said, I think I did really well with this piece.  It was much trickier than it seems.

The last challenge is this.  Since I don’t have my own kiln yet, I have to transport all of these pieces 3 to 4 miles in the back of my car along sometimes bumpy roads to the glass shop.  Even it I get it right in my workspace, I might have to redo all of that work when I get to the shop if pieces moved around.

This is my most recent plate for Heather Hall.  I think my cutting on the club and spade are pretty good.