Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cost-Saving Hacks

As I've said before, glass is expensive. So when ever possible, I look for ways to save money. I'm going to share a few that I use with you in this post. If you have a creative hack of your own, please share!

1 - Glass frit sifter. I spent about $50 on a frit maker (it's really hard to control how hard you hammer, so I broke down and bought a real tool), and then I realized I needed a way to separate the sizes of frit. I checked into products online, and a set of nested sifters in 4 different mesh sizes cost nearly as much as the frit maker! That's when I got creative. I went to the Dollar Tree and bought a wire strainer. Then I found one with a finer mesh at Target. I spent less than $10 and I have found that those two are all I need to do what I want to do.

2 - Grinder back splash.  I do like the vinyl-covered back splashes, but when I first bought my grinder, I didn't have a lot of extra money. I did have plenty of cardboard, though. So I took a section of cardboard 12" wide and 30" long, taped the split in the flap with duct tape, and set it up behind the grinder. It wasn't beautiful, but it kept the glass slurry off of the wall. This has come in handy a lot for me over the years, especially when I worked with art centers with squeaky tight budgets. Saves you $20!

3 - Grinder sponges. This isn't entirely about money. It's about convenience. Those 1/2" strips of sponge that fit behind the grinding head to keep it wet wear out. They wear out often. I just keep a couple of household sponges in the studio, and cut a new one when I need it. I just can't fathom ordering those. 

4 - Molds for slumping or draping. Molds are really expensive. But, with some luck, you can find stainless steel cups or other cooking dishes that you can use at a fraction of the cost. Just prep them with kiln wash like any other stainless steel mold. Bisque molds, like the kind used for painting and glazing ceramic, could be a cheap and interesting mold. There is a creative reuse center here in Durham called The Scrap Exchange and they often have molds. Just be sure to check the bottom. If there are no holes, drill a few vent holes with a tile bit, and prep as normal.

5 - Hands free measurement. There are a lot of liquids that expressly warn against skin contact, such as mold hardener. I found that keeping a old syringe, medicine dropper, or turkey baster around comes in handy. The syringe and medicine dropper are good for smaller bottled liquids, and the turkey baster is great for larger bottles. If you work in mosaics and use liquid admix, this is the way to go!

Please feel free to share some of your cost-cutting ideas with me!

May all of your scores run true!
Purple translucent votive by P. MacLeod
Photo, Rodney Scurlock

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