Thursday, January 21, 2021

Melting Glass In Your Microwave: Fun With Microwave Kilns

There comes a time after the busy holiday season each year when my jewelry making comes to rest. I know somewhere in this blog I've written about it before. It's a time when all the hustle and bustle is over and done with and artists and craftspeople can take a deep breath and enjoy the slower pace that the New Year brings. 

Over the years I've found that this is a really special time of year for me. It's when I peek out from my jewelry-making cave, take a deep breath of fresh air and then think to myself, "what's next?!"

It's a time when I not only need a break from making the same type of jewelry that I make over and over again, but it's also a time to un-pop the cork and allow my creativity to travel in an entirely new direction. I look forward to it every year.  

But what's really special about this little "vacation" time of year is that I will usually invest in an entirely new art or craft venture. I try out something that is entirely new to me, that I always wanted to try. The outcome of these ventures varies. Sometimes I find something that I really enjoy, and so I continue to do it (watercolor painting being one), while other times those new supplies or equipment get put on the back burner. But the best times are when I learn something new and then in some way, incorporate that into my everyday art. 

One year I bought a tabletop mini-kiln for enameling, and the basic supplies to go with. I learned about frit and stringers and having to enamel the reverse sides of pieces. I learned that you can enamel on pennies! 

One year I tried out Batik. Another year, polymer clay. Yet another year, liquid resin. Then watercolor paints and acrylics. There've been others too -- and off the top of my head I don't remember what -- but when the pandemic began last spring, I decided to once again try something that I always wanted to try but just didn't have the time for: fusing glass in a microwave kiln. 

You mean you can melt glass in a microwave?

Like the microwave in your kitchen? 

Yes, that's right! I was so curious about how this worked, so I did a bit of research, and I was quickly sold on the idea of making my very own mini melted glass masterpieces in my Sharp Carousel. The best part about it? The ENTIRE setup (not including the microwave, of course) was under $75.00 USD. 

Now, with a bit of research and reading the first thing that you will learn is that you need to use an old, extra microwave with a turntable (hello thrift store) and not your good kitchen microwave. You also want to read as much as you can about how it is done and watch YouTube videos as well. 

Another thing you will learn is that you can't just use any old glass in a microwave kiln. You must use glasses that are compatible in that they have the same COE (coefficients of thermal expansion, re: they have to expand at same rate or will break later on down the road). It might sound a bit confusing at first but it actually is very simple. 

Anyway, aside from all that technical stuff, the whole point of this blog post is just to give you a peek at what came in my microwave kiln kit and show you the first project that I made. 

The photo above is what came in my kit - I think I paid around $65.00 + tax, and once I had it in my hands I was super-impressed by all that it came with and the quality of the items. I also did a lot of browsing the 'net before I picked out my microwave kiln and I found that lots of different places sell them but for the most part, they are pretty much all the same aside from what size you choose. I chose the XL version and was glad that I did, since that allows me to create larger things like ornaments and coasters and not just small items. 

It's also important to have safety equipment first and foremost. You need to have a heat-proof surface to set your kiln on when you remove it from the microwave, such as fireproof bricks, as it will be extremely hot (well over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit), and you will need heat proof gloves and eye protection and of course a fire extinguisher in case of emergency. You also should use your microwave kiln for melting glass in a ventilated area such as a basement or garage. 

You can see what my kiln came with in the photo above: the kiln itself (it's two-part, with a base and a lid), safety gloves, different kinds of glass, a glass cutter, some jewelry findings, a file, and kiln shelf paper that you MUST use beneath your glass or it will melt to the kiln and your kiln will be ruined. There was even millefiori and dichroic glass included in my kit! 

It was now time to make my first project....

For my first project I cut some thin strips of green and yellow glass and carefully sandwiched the pieces right up against each other (steady hand needed!) then I placed three white and yellow flower patterned millefiori glass pieces on top and let 'er rip. 

After about 5 minutes in my mighty microwave kiln I had my finished fused glass cabochon, seen here:

I loved how it turned out! I was quickly sold on the entire concept of microwave kilns for fusing and melting glass. It's fast, fun, inexpensive, and just so cool! 

I hope you enjoyed this quick look into what a microwave kiln is and let me know, have you ever used one? What type of art or craft do you do in you "down time?"

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Article copyright Laura Beth Love 2021 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area. 

Jewelry Made From Antique Valentines & Valentine Post Cards

When you have a true love for antiques and vintage items, you want to preserve them so that they can be enjoyed by future generations. 

There's a special kind of gentle kindness in that—to preserve and not destroy—to find value in the past, and though it may be just a tattered piece of paper to some, to others who can see more deeply into it and understand it's importance and value— know that preservation of antique and historical items is paramount to understanding the past and therefore appreciating it, and wanting to share it. 

I started making my vintage ephemera jewelry and vintage postcard jewelry in the late 1980's and have created hundreds if not thousands of pieces over the years. Most sandwiched between pieces of glass and hand-soldered, sometimes adding beads or baubles and sometimes adding a vintage finish to the metalwork. Being handmade, each piece always was a unique, one of a kind piece of art jewelry that celebrated the past. 

Now, all these years later, I look back at some of my past designs and see how my own craftsmanship has changed and transformed into what it is today. I've written art jewelry books and have done so many amazing things over the years but I always enjoy just sitting down with a cup of tea and looking through the vintage valentine images and vintage postcard art. 

Of course, I never destroy an original vintage post card or valentine! Each piece that I make starts with me making a copy of the original ephemera and then goes on from there. The original vintage Valentine's Day cards and antique Valentine postcards are treasures of the past and should be protected and kept for years to come. 

Below are some of the pieces I've made. A few are available in my Etsy shop, and the vintage initials are available directly from my website at

Necklace pendants made from antique valentines & antique postcards

Necklace pendant made from antique valentine postcard with heart shaped coin pearl

Charm-sized necklace pendants made from antique valentines

Vintage fairies! Necklace pendants made from antique valentines

I add the glitter details by hand

Queen of hearts 

Necklace pendants made from antique valentines & antique postcards

Along the same line of vintage papers, these lovely antique initial pendants are available on my website at

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Article copyright Laura Beth Love 2021 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Antique Treadle Sewing Machines Upcycled & Repurposed

50 years ago if you were to ask anyone you knew if they had a treadle sewing machine in their attic there's a good chance they would've said yes! 

Considered antiques even fifty years ago, treadle sewing machines--the classic wood and wrought iron machines that used a pedal or "treadle" to make them run--are classic pieces of history. 

These machines are still collected, restored and used, so before you decide to repurpose one, please check with a collector or group beforehand (there are a few on them online and on Facebook) since some parts are greatly valued and needed for replacement parts.

As for upcycling and repurposing vintage Singer and other brand treadle sewing machines, you will most often see them turned into tables, utilizing the iron bases as table bases. There are other options for use too, as you will see below. Take a look and see how these creative folks transformed their old treadles & sewing machine bases into unique new creations.

I love the display of vintage books on the treadle

and don't forget to visit their Etsy Shop

Upcycled sewing machine transformed into a stool via Pinterest

This old treadle Singer sewing machine is now a bath cabinet with sink 

A new kitchen island chopping block from a vintage repurposed Singer sewing machine

Here's another grill in a different style 

In vibrant turquoise paint 

Sewing machine base integrated into a kitchen ceiling lighting fixture

Here's an unusual use for an old Singer; a doorway gate

In bright sunny yellow via

A marble-top table adds elegance

Angie from Knick Of Time created this cool repurposed antique sewing machine stand wall bins

Table with natural wood tabletop Via Batixa

Rustic charm image via Olivet

Benches constructed from treadle sewing machine bases (above and below)

Whitewashed barn wood creates a simple tabletop

In white paint in the kitchen from Country Calling

Used as a plant stand

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Article copyright Laura Beth Love 2021 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area.