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  • hotglassartist

Flight of Fancy

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

fritcast butterfly Madagascar Sunset Moth butterfly
Let your Dreams take wing!

Come along with me on a visual journey and see how these beauties are made. If you aren't a glass artist, no worries. I hope you will enjoy the care and craftsmanship that goes into my art glass.

emperor of india butterfly
I'm often asked how I make my butterflies. How do I achieve certain effects?

First you need a really great casting mold. I like Creative Paradise and Colour de Verre reusable casting molds. You can make your own molds or use patte de verre with food molds or freeze and fuse but my favorite method is to use ceramic fusing molds. The pros to these molds are: reusable and consistency. Cons are: fixed shape (even my Monarchs are swallow tails) and the need for mold release. The molds themselves are absolutely sumptuous, delicious to look at.

casting mold, ceramic mold, firing fused glass
Creative Paradise and Colour de Verre make beautiful, sumptuous, detailed casting molds

Molds need to be prepared carefully because you need to be able to manipulate glass the consistency of talcum powder and beach sand on the surface of the mold with out disturbing the mold release. Mold release prevents your glass from sticking to the mold. If the mold isn't properly prepared the coating is friable and will contaminate the glass, bake in and ruin the color and transmittance of the glass. Also the glass might stick to the mold.

frit casting fine frit powder frit
When the sun hits beautifully fused glass you can't take your eyes away. Tiny bubbles trapped in the glass scatter the light into 1000 flames. The glass has a spectacular inner luminosity.

You need a really great color palette of powders and fines and a sense of that color palette. For example Oceanside (formerly Uroboros and Spectrum) had a fantastic color palette of stable, nonreactive, nonstriking glass. What you saw was what you got. No worries about any color touching the boundary of another color. Bullseye 90 has a great color palette but most of the bold colors in each family are reactive and many in the yellow/red/orange/pink spectrum are also strikers - finished color is temperature dependent. These things have to be managed.

That said, the next thing you need is a set of awesome tools.

frit tools
Awesome tools might be hand made or purchased. What ever you reach for again and again is an awesome tool for you.

Next you need inspiration! You can find it many places. There are many gorgeous butterflies in the world and plenty in your own back yard. Some of my favorites are Emperor of India, Monarch, Birdwing and Sunset butterflies.

bullseye glass uroboros glass ocean side glass
Using a Madagascar Sunset Butterfly as inspiration.

Lay down your design in three or four layers. The first layer is primarily the powder layer with the greatest level of detail. The second layer may be continued refinement of boundaries and color sharpness for the powder layer design. The third layer is the color saturation layer and the fourth is a clear layer to assure enough glass in the mold to prevent holes from bubble eruptions and contraction of the class.

working in frit powder glass powder
Example of a completed first layer.

Some butterflies, like 88's (above) are inspired by real butterflies and others are inspired by flights of imagination (below):

working with fine glass frit
Nearly Complete first Layer. (Murrine has not been cleaned up yet))

Working with bullseye powder frit
Start of the Second Layer of color design

Working with fine frit COE 90
Nearly complete second layer of color

fine 90 COE glass frit
Color Backing Layer (Third Layer)

Medium frit
Clear Frit backing

frit casting with glass
Fired Unicorn from the Kiln

90 coe frit casting
The end result

tangerine frit 90 coe
Let your dreams take wing!

butterfly casting
Ready for the tree or the window

kiln fired glass
At home in the orchids

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