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Fusing with Cuttlefish Bone

Cuttlefish is a soft-bodied marine animal, related to the squid or octopus. The shells (sometimes called quills) that make up the backbone are often used by jewelers to make two-part molds.  Since they contain calcium and other minerals, they're also sometimes used in parakeet cages as a way to supply these necessary minerals to the bird.  Cuttlefish bone has an outside that it hard like a shell, but the inside is soft and chalky white.

To use the cuttlefish bone, it's necessary to first cut it in half using a sharp knife or hacksaw.  This will expose fascinating growth lines inside the bon.  After cutting, use a file to smooth out the shell side so that the cuttlefish bone can sit on the kiln shelf without rocking.

Before firing, draw a design in the soft portion of the cuttlefish bone.  You can use any blunt tool, such as a match stick, a finger nail, or an old ball-point pen. Once the design is drawn, lay a piece of 6mm thick (1/4") glass over the cuttlefish bone (soft side up, hard side against the shelf).  It's not necessary to kiln wash the cuttlefish.

Fire using a standard fusing schedule.  The piece will emerge from the kiln with a white imprint of the cuttlefish bone (including the growth lines and edges of the quill) burned into the glass.  Amazingly, the inscribed portions will remain transparent.  The finished design is subtle, but has a fascinating organic texture and image.

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

Thanks to Colin Lowe for this tip.

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Four Corners International, Inc.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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