Photos by pollyfusia
Pollyfusia and I did some pot melts the other day. This is our method.
We used $2 unglazed terra-cotta clay pots from Home Depot. We did NOT kiln wash them. We drilled extra holes in some. We enlarged the hole in some.
We went up a few sizes and got extra-large saucers to catch the glass. These we DID kiln wash. You can melt right onto your kiln shelf, but that makes me nervous so I don’t do it.
We borrowed some long kiln posts, and laid them across the top of the saucers to hold up the pots. When you set everything up in the kiln, make sure the supports don’t block the holes in the pots.
That’s it. We packed as many pots into the kiln as we could. If you have a teeny kiln, like I do, you can still do melts – just buy small pots and saucers and make mini-me-melts melts.
The glass We found out the hard way that a little color goes a long way. Our best results came from loading the pots with at least half clear glass. And don’t forget the grey-brown ‘halo’ effect you get from mixing opaque blues with vanilla or oranges or greens. It makes for a poopy melt. (I speak from experience.) Also, you can stack the pieces of glass various ways to try to influence the outcome. Good luck with that.
Firing We found our firing schedule online. Basically, you want to take it up as fast as possible to 1700F (925C), hold for an hour so the glass flows out of the pots, drop to 1450F (790C) and hold for an hour so the glass thins out, drop to 960 (515C) and hold for another hour to anneal, then drop at 100 degrees per hour to 700F (375C), and shut off.
You’ll have a lovely circle of glass. If your pot was overfull, it will be extra thick. You might do a full fuse to thin it out to the usual quarter-inch for easier cutting. Cutting the melts can be tough – I often score both sides, then bonk* the score, cuss, and bonk more. If that doesn’t work, I get the tile saw out.
You’ll probably have bunch of kiln wash and junk on the bottom of your circle. I’ve tried putting clear glass in the bottom of the saucer to minimize the junk, and I think it might help. Anyway, sandblasting is great for getting that off, or you can grind it. And sometimes the bottom side is way cooler than the top. Clean it up and firepolish it!
I like to cut my melts into pendants, but Polly made a cool suncatcher with one.
Basically, you’re making your own unique sheet of streaky glass. How cool is that?
A little something about Health and Safety Glass is dangerous stuff – you might cut yourself badly or get a shard in your eye or ingest powdered glass. This is why glass must be treated with a healthy respect by employing good studio practice.
Variations We drilled/chipped additional holes in the bottoms of some of the pots. The orange melt (upper left) dribbled glass from three holes. Also, you can make a square hole and the glass will fold as it melts, making interesting patterns.
Mesh melts Same thing, except you stack the glass on a stainless-steel grid instead of in pots. The results are less homogenized.
NotesThe pots will have some glass stuck inside. You can reuse them a few times if you stick with the same colors.
*I think the technical term is ‘tap’ but this is a really hard tap.