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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Make Custom Ceramic Texture Molds For Fused Glass Art, by bgartman

This tutorial was written by and found here.   Sometimes some posts disappear as time goes by and this is such a great tutorial that I didn't want to lose it!  
 

This tutorial will explain how I make custom ceramic texture molds to create fused glass art.
Items used in this tutorial:

1) Firing the clay, and glass:
Kiln: I use a Paragon Janus 23 multi-purpose kiln (capable of firing glass or ceramics with the flip of a switch!)
kiln shelves
kiln shelf wash: Hotline Primo Primer Kiln Shelf Wash
plastic lidded container to mix and store shelf wash in
paintbrush to paint shelf wash onto shelves & molds (I use inexpensive Chinese brushes that are often used for glazing ceramics as shown in the photo)

2) Clay: MCS Porcelain P'Clay Cone 6 available at Baileypottery.com
https://www.baileypottery.com/clay/tuckers-pclay.h...

3) Glass:
Bullseye coe90 glass available at Bullseyeglass.com and other retailers
glass marbles such as Panacea Marble Accents often available at craft stores such as JoAnn Fabrics & Michael's
recycled Glass such as wine bottles, window glass, etc.

4) Items for creating texture in clay:
leaves
clay carving tools
textured objects to press into the clay including commercial stamps, found objects, buttons, etc.

5) Items for rolling out the clay:
rolling pin
rubber rib for smoothing clay
two 1/4" or 3/8" thick strips of wood
plastic backed fabric drop cloth, or regular drop cloth
cornstarch- I keep mine in a sugar shaker to make it easy to powder the surface of my clay
paper towels

Step 1: 

1. Creating the Clay Texture Mold

I've chosen a cone 6 porcelain paper clay as my ceramic medium for making texture molds because it has a very smooth surface that captures texture in great detail. The clay dries quickly, and creates lightweight molds, which is great for loading fused glass projects into the kiln and also great for storing your molds once they've been bisque fired. Most companies ship clay in 25lb blocks with a 50lb minimum. Please note that paper clays are prone to mold if not used quickly, which doesn't affect the quality of your ceramic piece, but may cause problems for people who are sensitive to mold. Most websites selling ceramic paper clay explain the pro's and con's of their products, along with firing instructions.
Decide what texture and design you're going to create. I've created wonderful texture molds from items found in my yard: lotus leaves, lily pad leaves, tree leaves. I've also hand-carved textures to create specific designs. Once you have your design in mind you're ready to start.

1. Work Surface:
Cover your work table with a drop cloth. I love using a plastic-backed fabric drop cloth because it protects my wooden work surface from the damp clay.

2. Clay:
Open your bag of clay. Use your wire tool to cut the amount of clay you need to roll out for your project. For instance, to create the large texture mold of of the lotus leaf takes a greater amount of clay than to create a small soap dish mold.

3. Rolling & smoothing the clay:
For most of my texture molds I roll the clay out to around 1/4" thick. If you're creating a deeply textured fused glass piece like a hand-carved pattern, you'll want to roll the clay to around 3/8" thick.
Follow basic clay techniques for rolling clay by using your rolling pin to work the clay slowly into a flat consistent thickness: Roll, flip the clay over, roll, flip the clay in a new direction, roll again until you have the desired thickness and size for your mold. I try to make mine molds 1/2" to 1" larger than the finished textured design in case the glass flows beyond my design in firing.
If you come across any bubbles in your clay surface while rolling the clay, poke them with a pencil tip or clay knife tip to make sure that they're gone before you proceed with smoothing and texturing the clay.
Take your rubber rib and smooth the surface of your clay, stroking across the entire surface of the clay with the rib horizontally, then vertically. Flip the clay over and do the same procedure again, smoothing the surface of the clay with the rubber rib by stroking across both horizontally and vertically until smooth. Now you should have a beautifully smooth piece of clay, ready to decorate with your textural design.

4. Texture the clay:
Sprinkle the surface of the clay lightly with cornstarch to keep your tools and leaves from sticking. Keep in mind that you do NOT want to press or cut your design completely THROUGH the the clay. Be careful to leave at least 1/8" thickness of clay in the thinnest areas or your mold may be more prone to breaking. As you create your texture, the hollows/deeper impressions in your mold will be the raised areas on your glass surface, and the raised areas on your mold will be the hollows/impressions on your glass surface.
A) If you're pressing leaves into the surface, arrange the leaves on the surface into the pattern you desire, then roll over the surface with even pressure with a rolling pin. I then like to take my fingers and press the leaves more deeply into the surface of the clay to make a deeper impression.
B) Add carved details, rubber stamps, press in objects as desired
C) It's a good idea to create a rim to contain the melted glass by slightly raising the edges of your clay from your table.

IMPORTANT MOLD DESIGN RULES:
-Make sure that your design does not include "under-cuts", or places where the surface of the clay mold juts out over carved hollowed-out areas. The glass will melt into these areas and get stuck.
-If you want to create a thicker piece of fused glass, you'll need to create a rim to contain the glass in your mold. If you do create a rim, be sure that it gently slopes OUTWARD so that the glass will release easily out of the mold.
-The smoother your mold, the smoother the glass. I like to make sure that all of the edges of my textured pattern feel smooth, and that there are no areas in my design that could create a jagged or sharp glass surface.
 
5. Dry your mold:
Follow the clay manufacturer's instructions. Paper clay is very forgiving, though all clay is prone to warping if dried to quickly. I like to leave my mold on my work table for a few hours covered loosely with a layer of paper towels. Once it is firmly leather hard I carefully move it to a kiln shelf in my garage and wait until the ceramic mold is completely bone dry. During the colder winter months I dry the molds indoors rather than in the garage.

 


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