Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Stitching update, a blast from the past, and yet another glass experiment gone wrong.

Stitching Update - Harry Potter Pillow Project

First off, a quick update on the Harry Potter Pillow Project. I've gotten the rest of the top border completed, and started the snake on the Slytherin banner. I'll continue to work on that, even if the progress is just sort of inching along. I've got a lot going on with work and real life right now, but hey - progress is progress, right?

Next up on the list after the two banners will be...more borders! The lower half, to be precise. I'll update the stitch counter once I've had a chance to sit down and *gulp* count the stitches...

A blast from the past!

There seems to always be that friend of the family - someone close enough to the point where the line between blood and friendship blurs, and nobody really cares that there's no actual blood relation at all. They're usually "Uncle" or "Aunt" or some other moniker. 

My sisters and I, and my parents of course, had Mrs. Roby, or "Mrs. R" as we affectionately called her - but never to her face, of course. She was another Grandmother to my sisters and I, and somewhat of a beloved Auntie sort of figure for my mom. 

When Mrs. R. finally passed away, she tried to leave something for each of my sisters - I've finally located the old sewing box that she wanted me to have. It's fallen into a little bit of disrepair, but unfortunately life sort of gets in the way and it had to go into storage for an unforseen amount of time. It's an old box, one that she used to keep around for minor repairs and mending. I had shown interest in embroidery and cross stitch at some point when I was little, so she decided that among her various items, this one was mine.

Now that I've had a chance to get it out of storage, there'll need to be some obvious cleanup work - there's plenty of dust, but other than some discoloration, the wood itself is in surprisingly good shape,with maybe a couple knicks here and there and the occasional scuff.. A little oil and some elbow grease should have it back in good shape, though I'm almost hesitant to start on the restoration work since I'm not sure what might ruin it or if there's a "proper way" to restore it. Once I can make some room in my house for it, it's going to be the first addition to an eventual Stitching Corner!

And finally, some not-so-Lucky Charms. 

So...I found out that charms don't hold up so well at high temperatures.

The "before" picture
In retrospect, I should probably have known, but I couldn't help but hope that they might hold their shape instead of melting into an amorphous blob. 

In this batch, I've learned a couple things. First, that there is probably a limit to how many pieces can go into a firing before you have to either lengthen the firing program, or up the heat. I'm thinking that in this case, the limit for my kiln without going for a longer firing program will probably be around 4-6 pieces max.

Second, charms are cute and all, but better left for resin or bead work. As you can see, the shapes didn't hold up so well, with the little star/moon charm being the only recognizable piece left.

Three, there are only so many times a piece can be fired before it just says, "No way, I'm not going to do what you want me to do. EVER." See the top left two pieces for examples.
The "after" picture

So, while there were some interesting results, there aren't any that I would really want to turn into a finished piece for purposes of selling. The three top right pieces (the orange/white and two small blue cabochons) are the only salvageable pieces for such a purpose, but that's alright - I'm learning more about what my kiln can and can't do with each experiment and each firing, so I don't count it that big a loss!

Off to more experimentation!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Second test firing!

So far, the kiln has been working like a charm.

First, it's kind of fun to do a comparison of what the glass pieces look before and after they're fired. For example, let's take a look at my second batch of test pieces.

These are the "before" pieces. As you can see, we have a lot of actual corners/edges, and a bunch of them are quite rough. The blue and green pieces I was especially interested in, since I was testing some tube-style glass beads for detail work.

The squarish piece up top and the white/green/orange oval at the bottom were another experiment to see if they would completely flatten out, or if they would just tack-fuse together. Those who spotted the purple cabochon in the center might recognize it from the first test fire...just because it's a failed piece doesn't mean it stays a failed piece when it comes to glass fusing!

And now take a look at the final product.

First, I was really pleased with the white/orange/green oval - it's good enough for me to consider selling it on Etsy once I get my store put together. It and the square below it succeeded in completely fusing into solid pieces, as I had hoped.

The green piece, I was kind of meh on the overall product, but it served it's purpose - the lines of glass tube beads formed nice neat lines, which show that I can use them for decorative purposes to try to create some patterns.

The blue piece had a similar result, but didn't fully fuse - back into the kiln, it's going!

The dark square-ish cabochons might be sellable as a set of earrings, but I really am thinking they could use some sort of extra embellishment in the centers.

As for the slagged bit in the upper right...I'm not sure what to do with it, since it was a bunch of scrap pieces to start with. I'm thinking I'll add another piece in the center and try re-fusing it. Back to the kiln with you!

And finally...the little purple cabochon was from the first test firing, but I accidentally put it upside down. This time, I turned it right-side up, and thankfully it re-fused properly.

Kingpin 88 without bead door, with viewing window
as shown on the http://www.cooltools.com/ website.
In closing, I'd like to say that I am really happy with my Evenheat Kingpin 88 kiln. It may be small - the chamber is approximately 6"x8"x8" in dimension - but I am not yet at the point where I need anything larger. The heat venting has been designed to keep from venting massive amounts of heat all around it, focusing it and insulating it so that you really don't feel any external heat coming off of it aside from the top (which is still minimal, and doesn't feel much warmer than holding a hand up to a heater vent), and some from the front. The front heat is understandable, as the model that I have has a viewing window and bead door, so it won't have the same fully seal capability that a solid door would.

The programming was a little harder than I had hoped to figure out, but the kiln does come with a DVD that has instructional videos, and the same videos are available on Evenheat's website and Youtube. After a quick review, I found that selecting the options for glass was surprisingly easy - there are settings for 90COE, 96COE, and I believe 87COE, as well as options for full fusing, slumping, and tack fusing. There are also options for selecting whether you want a fast fuse, medium fuse, slow or super slow fuse, so there really is a broad spectrum of options depending on which project you're going for.

For the most part, the process is simple: place firing shelf in kiln. Place firing paper on shelf (or use kiln wash if that's your thing, but the paper is SO easy to clean up and apply) and place products on top of the paper. Shut the door. Plug kiln in, power it on, select your program, and off you go!

Granted this is my first kiln, so I really haven't had a chance to do a comparison with other models (since they're kind of expensive!), but if anyone wants a recommendation for a good starter kiln, I'd say that the Kingpin 88 has my vote.