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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stretching Your Glass Rod Color Range

One of my friends had access to buying some Systems 96 COE glass at a great price, and asked me if I wanted some. But I wasn't sure what I should purchase.  So I bought a pound or so of clear, black and blush colored glass and decided that I'd add to it from there.

I've had this stash sitting in a corner, collecting dust and decided to pull it out the other night. It was time to channel my inner mad scientist.

So I picked out a few jars of frit that are or are close to the same COE and I mixed them with the blush to see what I'd get. Exhibit A- my new colored stringers.  And it felt great to actually use up some of it. Because the frit is already small, it's pretty easy to melt and mix in.

If you haven't tried this before, here's a simple way to blend new colors when using frit.  I have two rods of the same color.  The first rod, I heat and fold back on itself a couple of times so that the gather is a bit thick.  I let it cool slightly and then heat up the outside and roll in frit.  (actually, depending on the type of jar, sometimes I just dunk it in.)  Then I melt in that frit and re- roll until I have as much color on it as I want.  Then I heat up that mass and the second rod until they are mushy and start twisting and mashing.  I know that some people say that you can capture air bubbles in it, but I seem to have pretty good luck.  I keep both glasses pretty warm and gooey and twist it together until it's mixed well.  If it looks too pale, I add more frit and try to add as little of the rod glass as possible.  From there, I pull it into approximately 3mm stringers.

I found when working with these stringers that you can tell a little bit that the COE might be slightly off, so don't use a lot of it and don't encase it and you should be fine. Also, when heating it up, go slowly so it doesn't crack. It feels a little brittle. I tested this glass by making seashells and floral beads and they look just fine.

Have fun with this and join me in being a bit of a mad scientist.  See what happens when you mix multiple frits together for a different color, and make some stringer.  Play and have fun.  I mean seriously, isn't that a good part of the reason why we work with glass?  And of course, I'd love to hear about your experiments and any fabulous colors you come up with.  Just watch your COE's.