Diary of a Demented Store Owner

Friday, 30 August 2013

We Have the Best Instructors

Here's an example of how Theresa sets up prior to the Beginner Class!

Of course, as usual, Figimodo has to try and be the centre of attention...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Glass Is A Liquid, Right?

And this is a popular misconception that just drives Mikey crazy. So, let's dispel this crazy notion and rerun a paper Mikey authored in this very topic two decades ago, once again:

 So, what is it this mysterious substance we call glass? Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Do four out of five dentists recommend it? (Which makes you wonder who visits that one out of five dentist, and what does he recommend?...Ed) Let's join hands and explore the subject together. 

    Okay, so let's assume it's a liquid for a minute. It has to be, right? We've all heard the stories about pulling glass out of old windows and how the pieces were all thicker at the bottom proving that the glass was slowly flowing downward. Heck, the way the glass was flowing pretty soon all our churches will have their sanctuaries full of puddles of flowing stained glass windows. You'll have to step over the Good Shepherd and his sheep to get to your pew! With all those uncovered windows with all their cancer causing light streaming through them congregations will be forced to take communion wearing Vuarnet sunglasses and wearing sunscreen. Actually it's a sham. Old glass is typically mouth blown and therefore varies sometimes quite significantly in thickness, disproving the notion that glass might be a liquid.

    Well if it's not a liquid then it stands to reason that it's a solid, right?  Webster's Dictionary defines a solid as "a substance of definite shape and volume; not liquid or gas." There you go, problem solved. But, hey, wait a minute. Isn't something a solid only when its molecules are motionless and lined up in flawless geometric fashion, like your grandma's furniture doilies. We call this "crystalline" (the solid, not grandma's doilies, unless she seldom washed them). A liquid on the other hand is quite the opposite. Its molecules are constantly in motion and entirely random in structure. Well, what do we do now? It seems then that according to the scientist, glass is neither a solid or liquid because its molecules are motionless (like a solid) but random in configuration (like a liquid)- so we'll call it a liquid? 

    Actually a better word is vitreous.

    If you look around, there's lots of stuff that's sometimes a liquid and sometimes a solid. Take that stuff wrapped in foil at the back of your fridge for example. Or water. Or iron. At any given moment, their state depends on their temperature. Water's molecular structure is random until the temperature moves down to zero Celsius (how come they don't use centigrade?) when its molecules start to crystallize- namely, line up in perfect lattice-like order and stop moving. Below zero and bingo, now it's a solid. And the amazing thing is that zero degrees is like a light switch. Above it's a liquid, below, it's a solid. But vitreous substances (like glass in case you've been sleeping until this very moment) do not have a freezing or melting point. As temperature decreases the free flowing molecules in molten glass simply slow down to the point where they just won't move anymore. But they stay random with no crystallization occurring. Got it? 

    So, glass then is neither a liquid nor a solid, but it's sleazy and exhibits definite characteristics of both. You might say we now have Four States of Matter instead of three- liquid, solid, gas and glass.

But don't take our word for it. Go to Corning Glass' website and read for yourself-


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Friday, 23 August 2013

Fusers Reserve

We have a huge shipment due first week of September which will include long time missing items such as Hobby Came in 3' lengths and rolls, zinc came in 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2" widths, all manner of glass from Spectrum, Youghiogheny, Uroboros and Kokomo, as well as a few surprises. 
Of course Mikey can't keep his mouth shut so he has spilt the beans on one surprise- Holiday Fusers Reserve- a limited Edition specialty glass for either fusing or stained glass. 
And if you can keep it quiet, I think it's even going to be put on sale as soon as it arrives!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

What A Guy!

Brad Walker has published several books on fusing. 
He also has a website. That's the problem.
You see, he needs to sell books to generate income, yet he seems determined to  give the bulk of that information away for free on his website.
So, buy his book and/or check out warmglass.com. Both are an invaluable resource and should be supported.
Here's a good place to start.
And if you are so inclined, drop him an email and thank him for all he has done.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

More Social Media

Yes, we are on Instagram, but have also been on Facebook for quite some time. Check out the Fantasy In Glass page here, and make sure to 'like' us (we need the validation)- 

... and look, even Figimodo has his own page here-


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Fusing- Devitrification, Even Us

While we spoke earlier in this enlightened blog about devitrification (see here), we neglected to tell you what it actually is (Mikey was reminiscing about his long gone mullet obviously...Vanna Opal). ‘Devit’ is a not uncommon problem fusers will suffer from sooner or later- a crystallization of the surface of the glass which like unwanted houseguests is not easy to deal with or as attractive (for an overly simple explanation). Sadly, as in many mother-in-laws, it is not removable. Happily, however, it is treatable.

Moving along, let’s see what we can do to fix it.

As you gaze in wonderment and amazement at this inspiring work of art and skill done by Mikey and Zenia, you might notice that the SP1009SF Black base for this project devitrified badly. Oh, the horror!

But why? 
Some possible causes and solutions;

• it’s possible that the Bullseye endorsed glass cleaner caused it. This is the first time we tried this cleaner which smells like a combination of Windex and alcohol. We typically use isopropyl alcohol as a final cleanup after washing our glass with a detergent (alcohol is not very good at cutting through cutter lubricants which are mostly oil-based- another reason we prefer kerosene (yes, it also is an oil, but almost not). Remember, always handle cleaned glass by the edges with oil-free hands.
• Perhaps the SP1009SF Glass was the cause. It was fusible which means that aside from having a known expansion, it is also formulated to minimize devit, but not always and opals are more prone to devit.  Multiple firings also could encourage devit. We often purposely dirty up a small sample and do a test firing before investing a lot of time and effort using a glass that might be suspect. If we still want to use a glass that might cause us problems there are options such as capping with clear, sprinkling a thin layer of clear glass powder or overspraying with such readily available products such as Spray A and Borax. 
• Did we run a program too long in the ‘devit zone’? This would be temperatures above 1300F. The longer we keep our glass above this temp, the higher the susceptibility it will have to devitrify. Best case scenario is to fire up to between 1000-1250F with a hold of 10-30 minutes and then speed up the firing (500F or more) until you reach your terminal temperature. Of course, there are ranges here- you have to adapt your schedule according to project size and/or thickness.
• Was the ‘air’ in the kiln polluted meaning the kiln and peepholes were closed and unable to vent off any impurities (glue, shelf paper, duck fat)? Some glues are better, some worse at causing devit. One we can heartily recommend is Bullseye’s Glastac, or favourite. Minimize their use or just stop using your glass for roasting dinner...
• Grinding. Working a piece of glass with a glass grinder will almost certainly increase the likelihood of devit. Focusing on good glass cutting to remove the need for a grinder is the best solution as a smooth glass cut edge is best. Second best is to not let your ground pieces dry out by keeping them in a tub of water with some detergent, vinegar (we are Canadian, but that doesn’t mean to use cider vinegar, ok?!) or even grinder coolant to increase the water’s wetness (that’s right- coolant actually does that) and when ready to set up in the kiln, scrub all edges with a toothbrush (Mikey gets a thrill out of using Vanna Opal’s Oral B Ultrasonic toothbrush and not telling her).
• Any combination of the above. This last one is one that we like the best. You see, you might be doing your prep and firing where you are just on the edge of having devit occur but not quite. Then, some minor anomaly occurs (you peek in the kiln because you are just too nosy and impatient thereby usurping the firing schedule, or you missed a fingerprint, etc). One change might have not been an issue, but the two together might have.

So Mikey you ponder, now that I know how to avoid devitrification, how do I fix the piece I made yesterday?
One way of repairing devit involves is by removing the top skin of the glass. Sandblasting, grinding, acid etching- all labour intensive and for most our applications, a little too involved. There is a simpler and equally effective solution and that is to use some sort of top coat to coat your work and thereby 'glazing out' the devitrification. Zenia’s preferred way is to spray coat a thin layer of Spray A (or Borax or other overspray- remember, some may not be food safe as they may contain lead) using a mouth atomizer, and then refiring. Easy, uncomplicated and virtually 100 percent successful. And that's what we did to fix this piece-

In closing, keep in mind that it is more preferable to avoid devit to begin with than it is to have to deal with it after...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Monday, 12 August 2013

An Industry Update

In the fallout of the failing of our one and only Canadian distributor, several months later we still all sit here without one. 
No one. Nadda. 
While we can only speculate as to how the competition is doing, we have been relatively unaffected. You see, we always sourced out most of our goods from elsewhere. Coming the first week of September-
- lead and zinc cames including the popular Hobby Lead (strips and rolls)
- more Spectrum artglass and fusible glass including their newest colours (such as some stunning new Fusers' Reserve) as well as some great pricing on their Crystal Clear fusible, their new economy priced Clear Ice, and tons of black and white fusible.
- more Youghiogheny including the very popular and well priced 8" x 10" sale pieces
- Uroboros reactives
- straight line bevels and hand tools
- almost 1500 Spectrum Sale Squares.
Any and all customers looking for something in particular or want us to hold something for you, drop us an email or give us a call prior to closing on August 23 and we will add/hold it for you.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Erbium Pink

This colour is no longer available- whether for fusing or stained glass. Even though it wasn't cheap, it was wildly popular- think cancer ribbon pink and you get the idea. We did buy up all the left over stock we could find and have some left in these precut hearts...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Serious Work Making Our Figgy Fusible Scrap Paks

This whole social media thingy (or thingie, Gary?) is a great venue to give our customers and friends a special insight into the running of a retail business in general and a glass store in particular- after all it's not called the Trials and Tribulations of a Demented Store Owner for nothing. 
This humble little blog of ours has been controversial and most definitely outspoken from time to time only because we saw a need to offer you an open and honest insight into this industry- warts and all. Topics we've delved into include forecasting the demise of Hollander Glass, to our love/hate relationship with some manufacturers, to the introduction of new products such as SwissCheesed GlassWerks, to threats of lawsuits, to stories like A Man Called Gus), but it also means that there is information that we post in one spot that might get missed by those who only visit another. 
We have content on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and of course our long running blog (over 1300 posts since 2000). Just search for us under Fantasyinglass (natch) or Figimodo (not so natch). And that's Mikey's excuse for not having posted as frequently as of late, now soon to be rectified.

 Go here to see the serious work we put into making up our famous Figgy Fuser's Scrap Paks...