Modeling Glass Tips and Tricks
Every month 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 . You can also find back issues of all my e-newsletters there!
In response to various questions that have come from artists working with Modeling Glass, I have updated and expanded the instructions that come with each Starter Kit. There are now guidelines for mixing small batches of Modeling Glass, additional firing schedules, and much more. You can view the updated instructions here. Thanks to everyone who has emailed me with questions, problems, and successes. It's really helped me to know what additional information to provide.
Filigree plate with a full-fused design made from Modeling Glass.
This month's project features once again a silicone fondant mold. This time it's a large filigree mat...I mean really large: 22" x 15"! It's to cover an entire sheet cake with a lacy design made with fondant icing. It also happens to make awesome lacy Modeling Glass. I wanted to make some 5 1/2" square snack plates, and decided it would be fun to try out this large mat I found online. Here's a link to one of the suppliers on Amazon, though you can find the mat from several companies. I used scissors to cut the mat into multiple pieces for easier handling.

It's a pretty simple project, but the end result is very delicate and interesting. Basically, you spread three colors of Modeling Glass onto the mat using a palette knife, layering them over each other to a thickness of about 1/8". I used Black Opal, Jade Green, and Opaque White. Once the mat was covered, I dried it at 200 degrees F in the oven. Drying was pretty quick, since the layer was fairly thin.
After about 45 minutes the edges of the Modeling Glass were lifting away from the silicone mat, so I knew it was dry. I flipped the mat with the Modeling Glass over onto another cookie sheet, and then gently lifted the silicone away, leaving the thin layer of dry Modeling Glass. At that point the material is fragile, especially along the edges. But since I end up trimming the edges away, a little chipping during handling doesn't matter.

After drying, I used a Sharpie marker and a blade to trim the filigree into squares. I then put the squares through a tack fuse. Here's where I had a sort of breakthrough moment. I decided to try the pre-shrinking phase (firing at 1275) without an anneal segment. I figured that the Modeling Glass was very thin, and would be going through a full anneal during the second firing, so maybe I could get away with simply sintering the panel and shrinking it, then letting the kiln cool at its normal rate. The end result looked perfect, and I believe I may be able to eliminate the anneal cycle on other pieces. It certainly accelerated the firing.
Marking the unfired panel before trimming the Modeling Glass into a square.

The photo above shows one of the trimmed filigree strips, which has been fired and is ready to be used in a future project. Even the scrap gets used in my studio!

I wanted to have a black border around the filigree inset, so I started with an unfired square that measured 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" in order to end up with a square measuring 5" x 5". The tack fuse resulted in shrinkage of about 10%, which was slightly less than the 15% average (I suspect this is because I eliminated the anneal segment so there was less heatwork).

I decided to make the plate in two different ways to see the difference between a full fuse and a contour fuse. The photo at the top of the article is the filigree full-fused onto a 6mm thick square of Black Opal backed with Tekta (clear). The piece was then slumped. The photo below shows another plate where I contour-fused the filigree panel onto a 6mm black/clear square that had already been full-fused. Here's the schedule I used for the contour:

This schedule preserved the raised texture of the filigree while also maturing the colors and creating a fully vitrified, food-safe surface.

I was really pleased with this project, as I have not seen this effect before. I guess you could get something similar through layered powder-printing, but creating a textured surface like the one I achieved with the contour-fused panel is unique to Modeling glass. Of course, this project could be done using transparent backing glass, different colors of powder, etc. to make it your own.
A second filigree plate, this one contour-fused to preserve the texture of the mold. I liked the rough edges of the filigree, so I didn't worry about getting a super-sharp edge, though I could have done so with a grinder.
I was honored to have several pieces of my glass included in a show that opened this week in Albuquerque at Palette Contemporary Gallery. Featuring a variety of art glass by Albuquerque artists (and a couple from outside of Albuquerque), it was a wonderful example of the breadth of creative effects that can be achieved through glass. I was thrilled to be invited to participate, and to exhibit with people like Emily Brock and Karen Bexfield, among others. The show also included a special presentation to members of Glass Alliance New Mexico. The exhibit will be up into October.
Upcoming Workshops
Feathers and More, October 11-13

I'll be at DB Studio at Barnard-Griffin Winery in Richland, Washington for the first time teaching glass artists how to make realistic great horned owl feathers using Modeling Glass. We start with feathers, but the activities go way beyond that. I'll go over many interesting ways of working with Modeling Glass, and we will do other projects, like sculpting with it to make a summer garden.  Learn more here.
Feathers and More, October 25-27

I will be at Hot Flash Glass in my home base of Albuquerque, NM for the first time teaching glass artists how to make realistic great horned owl feathers using Modeling Glass. We start with feathers, but the activities go way beyond that. I'll go over many interesting ways of working with Modeling Glass, and we will do other projects, like sculpting with it to make a summer garden.  Learn more here.I'm excite to be able to share these techniques with my New Mexico homies!
Additional Workshop Opportunities
Lois has a full schedule of workshops across the country as well as Canada and the UK. See the schedule here . 2020 dates coming soon!
Modeling Glass
This new 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!
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