January 2024 eNEWS
In this newsletter I'll be writing about how to use Modeling Glass in your work, and hopefully answering some questions that will help you get the results you want. There's always a learning curve with a new product, and there are considerations working with frit and powder that you don't have when firing sheet glass. There is a full set of FAQs on the Modeling Glass website at www.modelingglass.com. You can also find back issues of all mye-newsletters there!
My American White Pelican feather (at right) was chosen as part of the New Mexico Glass Alliance's annual exhibit at the Albuquerque Sunport.
Look at all the amazing New Mexico-based glass art!
Well, I finally took the leap...at the end of 2023 I left my full-time job as a grant writer for a nonprofit in order to be a full-time entrepreneur and artist (insert panicked whimper here). It had become impossible for me to give Modeling Glass and my art enough energy to grow to the next level, so something had to go. I'm nearly retirement age anyway, so what the heck, right? Still, it felt like a scary step off a cliff.

Fast forward just a few weeks and the world has changed. It was as if my decision to open up to new possibilities caused me to become a magnet for exciting new projects! Friends across the industry have been incredibly supportive, and I'm excited to be expanding my teaching offerings at several great studios, offering a new workshop on making glass masks, writing guest articles for Stained Glass News, I'm featured in an upcoming interview for Glass Art Magazine, a webinar with Glass Patterns Quarterly, a virtual teaching collaboration with Warm Glass UK and Bob Leatherbarrow, teaching for the New Mexico Glass Alliance's new GlassU program, a video hosting collaboration with Milkweed Arts, exhibiting work at the Albuquerque Museum, etc.

The upshot of all this will be beneficial to users of Modeling Glass, as I now have the time to do additional research and develop new projects for my second ebook, along with sharing cool discoveries with readers of this e-newsletter (see the article on shrinkage below). It's looking like 2024 will be a very good year, and I sincerely hope the same is true for all the devoted glass artists out there. We have chosen a challenging, expensive craft, but it's worth it when you open the kiln and your creation is there on the shelf looking gorgeous. Thank you all for your continued support as Glass Bird Studios spreads its wings!
Every glass fuser worth their salt is familiar with the concept of "COE"...coefficient of expansion...but it was only recently that I started to realize the importance of "COF"...coefficient of friction!
What is this strange acronym of which I speak, you ask? According to the website ScienceDirect.com, the coefficient of friction (COF), µ, is a measure of the amount of friction existing between two surfaces. A low value of coefficient of friction indicates that the force required for sliding to occur is less than the force required when the coefficient of friction is high. In less science-y terms, two slippery things slide against each other more easily than one rough thing and one slippery thing, or two rough things. In terms of fusing glass, it means that by harnessing the coefficient of friction, you can laugh in the face of the 6-mm rule of thickness, which dictates that glass at a full-fuse temperature will flow until it reaches a thickness of 6 millimeters, no matter its starting thickness. I know this all sounds incredibly NERDY, but it can be a real game-changer.

In 2023 the amazing Canadian glass artist Bob Leatherbarrow wrote a fabulous ebook titled Fine Line-Designs for Kilnformed Glass, in which he explores a multitude of unique approaches to making glass pieces that are thin-walled, I'm talking 3mm. They are precise, delicate, and still strong. They don't exhibit dog-boning or other issues that tend to plague projects that are made with single-layer sheet glass. The chapter introducing the "Skinny Glass Technique" describes how it works, and the role that COF plays in thickness control. There's also a section that features a project using Modeling Glass!

So let's see how this applies to Modeling Glass: one of the characteristics of glass powder is that it contains quite a bit of air. When the particles of glass fuse together (also called "sintering"), the air is driven out and the volume of glass shrinks. Since Modeling Glass (MG) is made with powder, it is subject to the same kind of shrinkage; up to this point, I have noted that approximately 15% shrinkage should be expected when firing MG to a tack-fuse temperature of 1275 degrees F. If firing hotter, there will be more shrinkage, but this is the baseline.

Enter the Coefficient of Friction! I typically fire MG on Bullseye Glass ThinFire because I'm a lazy bugger at heart and I hate to scrape and re-prime kiln shelves. Bob's ebook got me thinking about friction, shrinkage, and MG, so I decided to try some experiments. I wanted to see how different substrates affected the shrinkage amount of MG during firing. I made three blue jay feathers with the same dimensions and fired each one on a different base: on ThinFire, on 1/16-inch ceramic fiber paper, and on a coated kiln shelf. They were fired to a peak temperature of 1275 degrees F with a 10-minute hold. The results were very interesting!
All three feathers started out 11 5/8" long. The feather on the left (smooth ThinFire base) ended up shrinking the expected 15%. The center feather (rough fiber paper base) shrank far less, only 5%. The right-hand feather (primed kiln shelf) shrank 7%. The differences can be attributed to the varying COFs of the substrates: ThinFire is smooth (low COF), while the fiber paper is rough and the texture helps to hold the glass in place, minimizing shrinkage. The primed kiln shelf was only slightly less rough than the fiber paper, but the increased shrinkage on the ThinFire was a surprise to me.

Of course, the glass was affected in all dimensions, and the feather that shrank the least also ended up relatively thinner (2.5mm for the piece on fiber paper vs. 3.06mm for the piece on ThinFire). It seems more of the shrinkage was directed to the thickness since the glass couldn't reduce its footprint due to the higher COF of the fiber paper, while the feather on ThinFire was able to pull together and maintain its original thickness. I hope I haven't lost you yet! I'm still thinking all this over myself.

Here's the moral of the story: if you want a piece of Modeling Glass to be as close to the size you made it as possible, consider firing on fiber paper. It will shrink a bit more in thickness, which can be good if you are looking for a delicate, more translucent result similar to a powder wafer. Ain't glass amazing?
Here are the workshops I have scheduled. I'm looking forward to meeting new artists and sharing all the cool things you can do with Modeling Glass! This year I'm adding a few extended 4-day workshops that will focus on making masks!

February 23-25 Hot Flash Glass, Albuquerque, NM (Feathers and More)
April 4 Glass Craft & Bead Expo, Las Vegas, NV (half-day introduction to Modeling Glass)
June 19-21 D&L Glass, Denver, CO (Feathers and More)
July 11-13 Ed Hoy International, Warrenville, IL (Feathers and More)
July 16-19 Ed Hoy International, Warrenville, IL (Mystical Masks)
Late August/Early September, TBD Anything in Stained Glass, Frederick, MD
October 18-21 Milkweed Arts, Phoenix, AZ (Mystical Masks)
October 25-27 Milkweed Arts, Phoenix, AZ (Feathers and More)
December 7-10 Helios Glass, Austin, TX (Mystical Masks)

My article about Working with Modeling Glass appears in the January 2024 issue of Stained Glass News, distributed free at glass retailers across the country. I've written a few articles for them, and am excited and honored to be a regular contributor to this wonderful publication.

I shared a project for making snowflake ornaments with Modeling Glass and mica in the Winter 2023 issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly They even put some of the snowflakes on the cover! I'm so grateful for the support of a terrific publication like this. I'm excited that Modeling Glass continues to engage glass artists and helps them to create fused glass art that is uniquely theirs!

I'm delighted that the feather-making instructional video I produced is now available through Milkweed Arts AZ! You can find it in their online education series here. If you purchased this several years ago from AAE Glass, it is the same content. But it's been unavailable for a while, so now's your chance to learn how I make my realistic, larger-than-life feathers!

I had a fun experience recording an interview with Warren Norgaard of Milkweed Arts to celebrate the roll-out of the feather video. In it we discussed my process, inspiration, the great glass community, feathers, and more. You can watch it here.
This is a batch of blue jay feathers, which is the project featured in the feathers video now available from Milkweed Arts! All Bullseye Glass powders.
YES, I APPRECIATE THE INCOME. But mostly, I want to help artists enjoy all the potential of Modeling Glass. I get a lot of questions that are answered in the ebook with great detail. It's worth it. Really. Order your copy here.

Exploring Modeling Glass: The Basics and More is essential reading for any artist looking to incorporate Modeling Glass into their work to achieve amazing dimensional effects. The first ebook about Modeling Glass, it is a definitive guide to creating with this exciting new product.
Written by Lois Manno, the creator of Modeling Glass, Exploring Modeling Glass contains 81 pages of clear, step-by-step instructions and 160 photos. Featuring seven complete projects, you will learn the basic techniques for mixing, sculpting, and combining Modeling Glass with enamels. The book includes project templates and all firing schedules (designed to work with both Bullseye and System 96) in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. This ebook is suitable for all levels of experience.
I continue to be amazed by the energy of all you glass artists who have continued to enjoy Modeling Glass, who post photos of your work and have lively discussions on the Modeling Glass Exploration Group on Facebook, and have been supportive of all things MG. I'm looking forward to working with you in classes, answering questions when you contact me (yes, I always reply), and sharing new ways to work with MG. It's your enthusiasm and support that gave me the courage to ditch the day job and be an artist/entrepreneur full time. Thank you!
Modeling Glass
This product was developed by Lois Manno of Glass Bird Studios. It is a two-part system made of a powdered binder and liquid medium that, mixed with frit or powders along with a little water, turns the powder into a material that can be sculpted like clay. It is featured in the workshops she teaches.
Want to purchase Modeling Glass? A list of retailers is available on the website. The list keeps growing, so check back. Ask your glass retailer to add Modeling Glass to their stock if they don't have it!


Ask your glass fusing retail supplier to purchase refill sizes of Powdered Binder and Liquid Medium.
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