I just love making glass art, and I especially love adding a little something extra to the pieces I make. This fused glass bowl has that little extra, though it may not be obvious at first glance.
In this fused glass project you may have to look twice to get the message, but it is there and if you make one similar you will love the surprise comments from others when they have a second look.
This fused glass bowl recently received an amazing ‘WOW’ reaction from a visitor to our galley. They had asked to pick up the bowl for a closer look, and that was fine. I don’t mind as most people are extremely careful.
After admiring it for a while and turning it over a couple of times they suddenly called out ‘WOW!’. When I looked up they excitedly asked, “How on Earth did you do that?”.
Revealing the Surprise
So what is it that got them excited? Well, have a look at the featured photo of this bowl. Make note of the colours inside the bowl, then look at the colours of the underside.
Some of you will get it immediately, but a lot won’t. Look carefully and you will see that the inside of the bowl is Vanilla with Egyptian Blue shards around the edge. But have a look at the bottom. These colours are reversed and the bottom is Egyptian Blue with Vanilla shards around the edge. And the shards appear to wrap around the edge.
These photos below show you both sides of the fused piece after the full fuse but before slumping. It’s obvious when viewing it this way, but when slumped into a bowl a lot of people don’t realise the difference. I called it a ‘Flip It’ bowl. If you have a better name I would love to hear from you.
Getting to Work
So, how was it made? Well, read on and I will tell you.
You could make this using any colours, but I chose these two colours because they react chemically to create a real interesting boundary. It is that extra dimension of the reaction boundary between the colours that I really wanted, mainly to give definition to the shards. That’s the dark brown to black border you can see between the blue and vanilla. There are many colours that react this way, and you could try any combination. If you do give this a go, I would love to see what you create, so please add a comment and include a link to a photo.
By the way, all the glass I use is Bullseye 90 COE glass. As mentioned, the colours here are Egyptian Blue opal and Vanilla opal.
Something I must say was that prior to making this bowl I did fuse a couple of test pieces. A couple of ideas failed miserably, but the one I am giving you here gave a consistently acceptable result.
So the basic idea is this, tack fuse the two colours together, along with some shards placed around the edge, then flip that over, add shards to the other side and then full fuse.
The sequence of events then is this –
- Cut 2 discs of your chosen colours.
- Use scraps of each colour to cut the shards that will be placed around the edge of the piece.
- If you use kiln paper, draw a guide, as explained later, for positioning the shards.
- Place the two discs of colour on the kiln shelf, with the bowls inside colour face down on the shelf and the bowls underside colour on top. Explained later.
- Position the shards of the opposite colour around the edge of the discs.
- Tack fuse only.
- Clean the piece, carefully, the flip it onto a prepared kiln shelf.
- Position the shards of the opposite colour around the edge of the piece.
- Full fuse.
- Clean and slump into a mould of choice.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a circle. You could try almost and shape, and it doesn’t have to be slumped into any glass mould.
So the first thing I had to decide was my size. The limitation of my glass kiln size and the need to allow for overlapping the shards around the edge meant 25 cm (9.8 inches) was about the maximum size. And that also worked well with the mould I wanted to use.
Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. You can see in this photo I managed to crack through the edge of the disc of Egyptian Blue. It cracked fairly evenly so I decided to simply lay it up and continue. Shards added later should mask any evidence of the crack, as long as it healed in the fuse.
I then searched through all my scrap of Egyptian Blue and Vanilla to look for pieces that could be use for the shards. I didn’t have enough so had to cut quite a few.
On a piece of Bullseye Thinfire kiln paper I drew a circle for the main body of the piece and then an outer circle, a little larger, as a guide for placing the shards around the edge. You can see this outer circle in the photo above of the cracked disc of Egyptian Blue. I made mine about 20 mm (0.8 inches) wide. It is only so you have a visual reference to get the position and extension over the edge reasonably uniform.
An important thing to consider here is which of the colours you want to be on the inside of the bowl. This colour, you will probably want to have a nice polish. The other colour, the underside, will be in contact with the mould in the final slump, so it doesn’t need to have a polished finish. This all means that when you flip the piece to do the final full fuse, you want the inside surface of the bowl to be on top.
This is why, in the tack fuse step you should place the final inside colour for the bowl face down on the shelf. When you flip later it will then be on the top and in the final full fuse it will achieve a nice polish.
You may be wondering why I didn’t do this all in one fuse. Why I didn’t just place the shards for the underside down on the kiln paper, then put the discs on top of that, then the topside shards and full fuse it in one go. The test fuses I made included this method but I didn’t find the end result pleasing. If you can make this work then it would be a quicker way to do it, and I would love to hear how you did it.
When placing the shards you will need to position them so they sit flat on the glass. By that I mean don’t balance them too finely as they don’t seem to wrap as well. I think they need to be in full contact with the top piece and not hanging over the edge touching the kiln shelf.
The firing schedules for all stages are shown below.
The crack in the Egyptian Blue disc did heal well, but I did get a little devitrification in the final full fuse, so had to sandblast. I considered doing a fire polish but opted to slump immediately after the sandblasting so I would have a soft matt finish.
Overall, I was extremely happy with the piece, as have been many admirers to our gallery.
I hope you find this little tutorial a great help and please do give me so feedback. Add any comments and questions and I will do my best to answer them.
Have fun, and always try something new. It’s great fun, and there’s that buzz like Christmas morning when you open that kiln.
Please be aware that all kilns fire differently and this schedule may not produce the same results in your kiln.
Tack Fuse – Bowl
|Segment||Rate (C/hr)||Target (C)||Hold (mns)|
Full Fuse – Bowl
|Segment||Rate (C/hr)||Target (C)||Hold (mns)|
Slump – Bowl
|Segment||Rate (C/hr)||Target (C)||Hold (mns)|
37 thoughts on “Making a Fused Glass ‘Flip It’ Bowl”
I think of it as “The Great Illusion
I love this. I used French vanilla and robin egg blue. The first tack fuse was blue down. Then flipped for Fv down on the full fuse. Unfortunately the Fv became mottled brown over the area – I think the blue contaminated the shelf ! Such a shame. Might try sandblasting it or covering with lots of blue frit to mask it
That mottling is a the chemical reaction between the 2 colours. It would possibly have come through from the contact between the sheets. It can be a bit hit and miss and I think depends on how opaque the FV is. Unless it is very fine on the surface, I doubt sandblasting will help. Embrace it. It’s handmade and that’s the beauty. Personally, I often like the surprises more than the intended. I tend to be a bit OCD so enforced natural beauty is great and breaks me away from trying to make everything perfect. I’ll shut up now.😃
Would it help to sandwich a piece of tekta between the French Vanilla and Egyptian blue to help lessen any unwanted reactivity? Of course this would mean a 9mm v 6mm finished piece.
That’s a good thought and it would stop any reaction at all between the blue and vanilla and stop any chance of the reaction showing through. But then being 9 mm thick how will you get around the spread of the piece affecting the shards around the edge? You can’t dam it. Maybe consider a dusting of clear powder between the sheets. Just thick enough to minimise contact between the sheets. That won’t add much thickness and should minimise the internal reaction.
Probably worth trying a test piece.
dust with clear powder between the colors reduces the reaction and doesn’t add to the thickness.
Great idea Michael.
Thanks. I love the overall…will just have to adapt my kiln shelf s and cleaning. Am already doing a couple more. Can’t find a way of posting attachments to show you.
Great comment. I am looking at adding that functionality but no luck so far. If I do find a solution I will announce it in the newsletter. Thanks Christina.
Just thought I would let you know I finally found a solution and you can now upload images if you wish. I’d love to see what you’re making.
I’ve attached photos of the piece I mentioned.
Underneath side of FV significant staining from previous firing of blue side down
Showing underneath side from shelf contaminated by initial tac fuse
That’s a definite. Nice clean round shape. What separator did you use? I use Thinfire and clean between all firings, for that reason. When I was using kiln wash I had too many issues with this, adhesion etc. More costly but worth it I found. Tried full fuse with boron nitride. Came away clean, but had more marks from the shelf. I just stick to Thinfire now.
Be game and hang the shards over a little more👍
I like this project and actually thought you used French vanilla confetti. I love the reactive look. Thank you for posting the project, your challenges, and solutions.
Do I tack fuse each side W scrap pieces separately or do I sandwich the sides together and do a tack fuse?
Also does it matter how far the scraps extend over the side of the circles?
Just tack fuse the two sides with shards around the edge, then flip it over and add shards to the other side then full fuse.
Yes, It does matter how far over the edge. Too short and it won’t appear to wrap, but too far and they may not pull in enough to form a good edge.
Have a look at my photo and that will give you an idea. Be sure to vary the pieces in size and edge overlap to give a more random look.
When you do the tack fuse, is each side done separately or do you tack fuse the top and bottom together ?
Tack fuse top and bottom and the shards in the first firing. Have a look at my photo and you ‘ll see that I had the vanilla on the bottom, blue on top and then vanilla shards around the edge. That was tack fused, then flipped and added the blue shards for a full fuse.
I wanted the vanilla on top in the finished bowl, so it starts on the bottom.
Hello. Just wondering whether you cold work the edges of your Bowl? I successfully fired a flip it but the edges are bumpy, not clean as in your photos. This is not something I am terribly upset about. But if selling such a bowl, I wonder. Thank you!
Depends on what you mean by bumpy.
If you look closely at the photos you’ll see that mine is also a bit bumpy wher each shard folded over. Just depends on how much you fused it. The more you fuse it the more circular the piece will be as the glass evens out.
Hope this helps.
Love this technique. I just cut my 2 circles, realizing afterwards that the shards will take up width. My circles are 10 5/8”. Measuring my mold I come up with 11 1/2”. How much additional width will the shards add on once full fused?
That’s a hard question. Can say I ever made that measurement.
So you have a little under an inch in total, half inch each side.
Sorry I can’t give you a definite answer, but you would think that will be enough. A half inch of glass all around the circumference is a lot of glass and I would doubt your shards will make that up. Of course, it will be uneven around the edge.
You could do the maths, just how much glass does that half inch take up, and compare it to the total of the shards, by weight if possible. Not sure what the density of the glass you use is, but Bullseye is 2.5 gms to the sqcm, I believe. Check on their site or what ever brand you are using. Calculate the weight of the half inch around and compare to the total weight of the shards.
Allow a bit more for the unevenness of the final piece due to irregular bumps where the shards fuse in.
Hope this helps. Need any help with calcs let me know.
I love this bowl & finally got around to having a go! I was really pleased with the result & want to have a go at a larger one now. Thank you so much for your really clear instructions – they’re brilliant!
That’s fantastic. So glad I could help, and good luck with the bigger version.
Good morning from Scotland, thank you very much for sharing your instructions.
I am pleased with the bowl but perhaps my shards could have hung over a little more?
Being fairly new to fused glass can I ask if that is contamination on a couple of the French vanilla shards that makes them look slightly grey?
That’s just the reaction I believe. It’s coming from underneath where it’s in contact with the blue. You may have noticed that vanilla can be a bit uneven in the colouring and I think it is allowing the reaction to come through. Don’t worry. It’s hand made and a piece of art. Embrace your ownership and work. I firmly believe that if I could make things perfect then I’m no different to mass production. I really love the fact that I can’t make 2 pieces exactly the same. That’s why I sign every piece I make.
I’ve made series now of these bowls. If you go to my Instagram page
I’ve posted a few photos of making them and the finished bowls.
Apologies if this is a repeat posting, I keep getting an error message.
On my Instagram site
You can see photos of the bowlsi made and the process of making them. I love this technique.
I had a look and they look fantastic. So glad you enjoy the style and good luck with it all.
Hello Jeff, I would greatly appreciate your feedback or suggestions on my attempt to reproduce your Flip It bowl. It’s a bit of a flop!
I think my tack schedule must not have been hot enough (I converted your schedule to Fahrenheit and slowed down the ramp up) and the initial tack fuse ended up with pieces that did not melt all the way down to the kiln shelf. I probably should’ve refused it but I carried on and flipped it over, added the French vanilla bits and went to a full fuse. I now have a piece with jagged points where they didn’t fully melt. Do you have suggestions for where to go from here? I’m thinking of grinding off the points and taking to a full fuse again. I’ll lose some of the fun definition on the edges but I can’t think of anything else to do. Thanks!
Having the pieces overhang after the first tack fuse is correct. But then after flipping it over and adding the top pieces you need to full fuse until it all pulls into your preferred look. With the one you have, I wouldn’t grind. I’d just clean it up well and then take it to a full fuse, and hold until it all pulls in. The darker blue colour should be fine. Let me know how it goes. For my full fuse I took it to 805 C, about 1480 F I believe, and held for about 20 minutes. So hot and long.
Thank you! It’s back in the kiln now.
Here is my bowl, I call it a upside down bowl. It turned out very good.
The other site of my bowl.
Hi Josien. Looks great. Are you happy with it?
Yes, I’m happy with it. Your bowl was my inspiration.