My soap collection has been slowly building. One thing I’ve noticed is that the bars are rarely uniformly cut. No matter how hard I try that cheap little soap cutter is just doing a poor job.
I’m talking about one of these bamboo box jobbers with a planer:
It seems like it would work well, but there’s too much play in the gap where the knife goes. And these boxes are never tall enough for your soap, so the first inch or so of soap cutting you’re pretty much guessing where you should cut until you hit the slot for the knife.
I’ve known for a long time you can use some ceramic products on glass, I just never got around to trying it. I used to do a lot of glass fusing but I never really got into it. It just wasn’t very consistent and that frustrated me. But I got out some Mayco Designer Liners, which are known to work if you sandwich your painting in between two pieces of glass.
But the real question was whether or not it was going to work with a microwave kiln.
Painting on glass is a pain especially with a water-soluble product like Designer Liner. If you try to do any layering, the previous layer will come off the second it gets wet. Dripping product onto the glass will work, but brushing will not.
Using a glass calligraphy pen seemed to work well at dropping product where I wanted it. It also let me scrape product away. Eventually, I had a cute little lightning design and after letting it dry completely (we don’t want to have boiling liquid on glass) I sandwiched the design with another piece of glass and crammed it in the microwave.
The results were not great.
The product cracked around the edges (the liner, not the glass) and a giant bubble of air was trapped in the middle. In an actual kiln, these air bubbles would eventually rise to the surface and it wouldn’t be an issue. An actual kiln would be fired for many, many hours and not a few minutes like this microwave one. Now that I see the result, I’m not sure if this will actually work.
I could try nuking it again to see if I can get the air to release, but I don’t really want to try, it already looks bad. Also, I need to try and get the Designer Liner a lot thinner. I was warned about this but I guess it wasn’t thin enough…. hence the cracking.
I may try again after pondering it a bit, but for now, I’m moving on to other projects.
With my full-size kilns put away for a bit while rooms are being remodeled, I thought I’d finally try the Fuseworks Microwave Kiln.
I remember asking my local stained glass shop about this a few years ago and they deterred me from getting it. If you’re a real glass artist, this probably isn’t for you. If you’re a crafter or just think the idea is cool, then you’ll probably get some fun out this.
The kit comes with all the basic supplies you’ll need to get started: The kiln (duh), gloves for handling a potentially hot kiln, glass cutter, kiln paper and some glass products to fuse.
I’ve worked in glass for many, many years. I actually used to work at a glass studio and taught some classes, so I’m very familiar with these items. I generally use higher quality items (a full kiln, a top-notch glass cutter, thicker gloves, etc) but the glass is pretty standard.
One thing that annoyed me was the instructions kept showing tools you don’t get with the kit. For instance, Figure 5, shows ‘running pliers’ which you don’t get. These pliers are pretty essential to cutting curves in the glass. So this kit will pretty much limit you to straight cuts unless you want to get some running pliers as well. Considering that the items you’ll make with this kit are very small, you won’t likely be making many curved pieces.
I cut some glass, slapped down some glass confetti and some millefiori and piled it all onto a piece of kiln paper.
I then closed up the kiln, placed it in my 1800W Microwave (you can use anything, the amount of time will change depending on your microwave) for 3 minutes. Using my gloves, I peeked into the kiln and saw everything looked fine, so I let it sit for 30 minutes to cool off.
And there you have it, my glob of melted glass products.
Overall, this was pretty quick and fun. I plan on playing with some of my ceramic supplies in it. Some ceramic underglazes and liners can be used with glass, so I may do some mini paintings or something.