I have had great success with "the double iridized sandwich technique," so I thought I'd share what I know with text and pictures.
What you'll need (in addition to a kiln with at least a 12" kiln shelf):
- a sponge brush
- an exacto knife
- Armour Etch
- rubber and/or latex/non-latex gloves
- a piece of newspaper
- painter's tape or contact paper
- carbon paper
- two pieces of iridized glass--at least one clear piece
Select a design. The best designs for this technique are line drawings or wood cut designs. I chose an apple cut in half. Using Corel Painter Essentials 4 or whichever program you're comfortable with, open your design, make sure it's the right size for whatever project you're making, and print it out.
Next, select the design in your program and flip it so that you get a symmetrical image and print it out.
NOTE: Do this step even if you think your design appears to be perfectly symmetrical. Sometimes there are subtle differences that your eye may not pick up.
Do an initial layout.
NOTE: It is VERY IMPORTANT that you etch at least 1/4" edge all the way around the glass you're working on. The two pieces of iridized glass will NOT fuse if the edges are not etched
. When you are planning your layout, place your design at least 1/4" away from the edge of the glass.
Cut a slightly large piece of carbon paper than your design.
This will allow you to secure the carbon paper, as well as the design, to your tracing surface so that the carbon paper doesn't scrunch or move while you're tracing.
Apply painter's tape or contact paper to the iridized
side of the glass. If you're not sure which side is iridized (it's sometimes difficult to tell on clear iridized glass), run your finger across the surface--the iridized side feels slightly rougher or not as slick as the non-iridized side.
I prefer painter's tape because it leaves no residue on the glass and holds your traced design better than contact paper. You can use a layer of contact paper (make sure there are no bubbles!) with a layer of painter's tape on top. Cover the entire surface of the glass. Using your nail or a ruler, press down on the entire surface to ensure there are no bubbles.
Place your design and carbon paper on the taped glass allowing at least 1/4" inch from the edge of the glass.
Tape down the design and carbon paper on the first piece of glass, then tape down the design and carbon paper on the second piece of glass making certain that the second piece is a mirror image of the first piece
Measure, measure, measure!
Step 2--Tracing and Cutting:
Trace around the design with a stylus, pencil, or pen. I prefer a colored pen so that I can see where I've traced. Also, if I want to reproduce this design in the future, I'll be able to tell what I traced before.
Remove the design and carbon paper.
I recommend cutting out the design on the clear piece of glass first. This way, once the design is cut out, you'll be able to do a final check on the mirror image design before cutting that piece out.
Use an exacto knife or craft knife (any sharp knife will do) to cut around your design.
If the knife snags on the painter's tape or contact paper, change the blade!
Here is what your design should look like after you finish with the knife, but before you start peeling the excess tape:
Start peeling the tape away from the areas that will be etched.
Use the point of the knife blade to raise difficult to reach pieces to be peeled away.
Check your work! Turn the first cut and peeled piece (hopefully you've done the clear piece first) upside down and lay it on top of the as yet untraced piece to check that you have good alignment.
Trace and cut around the design on the other piece of iridized glass. NOTE: You don't have to trace and cut the same level of detail on both piece of glass. This allows you to plan for a small level of shading on your final piece.
Both pieces cut out:
Check your work one last time before etching. You can make some final adjustment to your work if necessary.
Gather your essentials: gloves, foam brush, a piece of newspaper, Armour Etch, the pieces you're etching.
Shake that Armour Etch up! When you're finished shaking it, shake it some more!
Put the glass, iridized (taped) side up, on the newspaper. Put your gloves on. Hold your nose (Armour Etch smells mildly rotten) and prepare to etch. And please, don't allow any children or pets in the room
from this point until you wash the creme off. Armour Etch can be dangerous if not used properly. Read the label and take heed!
Brush the Armour Etch on, first up and down, then side to side, then in little swirlies. This ensures complete coverage.
Really goop it on. One thin coat will not achieve the desired effect. And when I say goop it on, I mean put it on like you'd put icing on a kid's birthday cake! I used a little more than half of a 10 oz. bottle of Armour Etch. (HINT: Buy Armour Etch on sale. I buy mine at Michael's Craft Store, and whenever I get a 40% or 50% coupon, I use it to buy Armour Etch.)
Put it on this thick:
Cover up the pieces with a box. The last thing you want is someone thinking there's some cake frosting just lying around in your work space.
Wait 2 (two) hours. Yes. Two hours. Don't go by the label! I have done some experiments with other pieces of iridized glass and in order to etch off the iridized coating, you need at least two hours.
Rinse off the Armour Etch (has it been at least two hours?) I wear slightly heavier rubber gloves for this step, because the sharp edges of the glass will easily slice up the thinner gloves I use for etching. (Also, make sure you throw the newspaper away.)
The Armour Etch really sticks to the etched surface. Use lots and lots of water and give it a good rub to get it all off.
Peel the tape off.
Spray both pieces of glass with a non-ammonia
cleaner and wipe them dry with paper towels.
This is what a good etch looks like:
You'll notice there are some sparklies around the apple. This amount of remaining iridescent coating is fine for our purposes. If there's more than this, you can apply more Armour Etch and wait another 2 hours.
Put the two pieces together and your project is ready for a full fuse in the kiln!
This is a picture of the final product with some embellishments. The seeds and stem are pieces of copper foil which were applied prior to the full fuse. The words were written on the glass with Glassline Paint just prior to slumping in the kiln.
Enjoy! I hope this was clear. If you have any suggestions or corrections, send me a personal message (PM).