Several weeks ago I wrote about a silver clay pendant that I made. “Inscribe a personal message into the piece. This is easy to do with clay, whether it is silver or ceramics. You could also paint a message onto porcelain or glass. You could even emboss a message into hot glass if you had the right tools.”
Rose-Marie James of New Prague, Minnesota wrote, “I would like to know where to find glass raking and embossing tools.”
Jayne Persico has designed a collection of glass embossing tools. Her website:
If you are inventive, you can also have custom copper embossing dies made by a graphic arts company such as A & G Engraving in Los Angeles, California (323-583-9085). Dies are used in the printing industry to emboss letterheads and book covers. The price is around $50 for 20 square inches. The die looks like a rubber stamp except that it is copper instead of rubber. You would need to attach a handle to the die.
A bent 1/4” steel rod works well for glass raking. Years ago my wife and I had a glass fusing business called Fire Jewels. We embossed small fused jewelry pieces and refrigerator magnets.
When raking or embossing, please take safety precautions. Wear long high-temperature gloves and a full-face mask. Glass raking and embossing is not for the faint-of-heart.
To rake or emboss, first turn off the power to the kiln. This is to avoid shock should you touch an element with the tool. Turning off the power is the most important step.
Then open the kiln lid or door just wide enough to insert the tool. Drag the rod across or press the embossing tool into the glass surface. It takes very little pressure. Then remove the tool and close the kiln. Turn the power back on if necessary.
You can read more about embossing in “Jayne Persico Presents Kiln Formed Bracelets.” The book shows in great detail exactly how to make glass bracelets and wristwatch bands. It is only 79 pages but includes over 250 color pictures.
Jane has developed a detailed system for making stunning bracelets complete with wrist-sizing chart. Her book shows how to cut, fuse, and then slump the bracelet blanks. Jane uses special bracelet slumping molds and tongs to press the ends of the softened glass around the mold. She also shows how to adjust the bracelet size by firing again.
Her book includes advanced techniques such as wire wrapping, twisting, and embossing the bracelets. Learn to drill holes with a Dremel tool and then fire-polish the holes in the kiln. Jane even shows how to make your own pattern bars.
As an artist you will want to go beyond Jayne Persico’s book and develop your own ideas. But her book is a great idea starter. I’ve listed it on Paragon’s website:
(Or go to www.paragonweb.com and select Products, then Books & Videos from the drop menu.)
Last week I wrote about an ancient ceramic bowl that I found on the beach at Leptis Magna in Libya. I also described the handful of Roman tiles I collected that washed up on the beach near my house. A couple of readers asked if I still had the artifacts. No, I left them in Libya. They are probably covered with sand again and perhaps under the foundation of a house built since I left.
Jenni Hearne of Hayden, Idaho wrote, “Oh my gosh! I was born in Libya--Benghazi, 1960. My dad was with US AID, and I grew up all over Africa and Asia. My parents loved Libya. They still talk about the ruins of Tripoli and Cyrene. From Libya we moved to Nigeria, then Congo/Zaire, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
“Living overseas was a good education and gives a unique perspective on life,” Jenni added. “I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything, and it definitely gave me an appreciation for art and design.
“It's always wonderful to find another person who knows what that global nomad childhood is like! I would love to travel to Libya again to see where I was born. Thanks for sharing your memory.”
Mary Jane Thomas of Columbus, Georgia wrote, “My father, Paul David Klotz, was born in Alsace Loraine, France. He lived in the village of Wissembourg. Around the village were substantial remains of an ancient wall wide enough for two Roman soldiers to walk abreast.
“Later his family moved to Strassbourg,” Mary wrote. “While digging the foundation of the new house, he found many Roman artifacts. He told me about finding large jars filled with Roman coins. When I grew up, ceramics and Roman history were very real to me.”
Claudia MacPhee of Tagish in faraway Yukon Territory wrote, “During the time I lived in Mexico, I collected shards, arrowheads, and lance points. They were everywhere. Sitting around in the evenings while waiting for the parrots to fly across the valley to their roost trees, I would dump my box of shards out on the table and go through them. I would imagine the people who made them. The marks on the pots weren't just artistic designs but religious symbols. The pot shards were a window into the past. They still had the power to 'speak.'”
NEW FACTORY TOUR
I have worked at Paragon for many years, but the factory still fascinates me. Skids of bricks and rolls of stainless steel and element wire somehow become kilns. A factory is a focal point of intense energy perhaps like a very busy pottery studio.
I just added a virtual factory tour to Paragon's website:
I invite you to visit and hope you have a moment to email your opinion to me.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com