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Beware Bad Blobs! March 29, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in Materials.

I needed a red glass blob for a stained glass window I’m working on.  Just one little blob for the center of the piece.  You know the glass blobs I’m talking about.  They come in different sizes and colors and you can usually find them by the bagful at your local craft store.  They are often used in clear vases for floral arrangements, and I use them when I want little bumps in my glass pieces.

Needing one of these blobs in red, I headed over to my local Michael’s.  They had plenty of glass blobs, in loads of colors, in little mesh bags for $2.50  So I picked up a bag of red blobs.  When I got them home I dumped them out to find the best one for my needs.

Because they really are just blobs of glass, they tend to come in varying states of not-quite-round.  They also vary slightly in size so I need to go through them to find the roundest of the bunch and from those choose the one that is closest to the size I need.

So I’m going through the blobs and I notice some of them are not evenly red.  They kind of fade off to clear at the edges.  I find this very odd, since it’s red glass and it shouldn’t behave that way.  Maybe it’s just how the light is moving through the blob.  I continue to be puzzled by this until I run across the one with the clear speckles.

Clear speckles in a blob of red glass.

I realize that the color issues I am seeing are due to the fact that these are not red glass blobs.  These are clear glass blobs that have been painted red.

Just to be sure, I scrape at the blobs with my xacto and the paint chips right off.  I scrape a few more just to be sure.  Some are painted on the top, some are painted on the bottom.

I can’t use any of them.  Since I’m working in stained glass, I’m using heat and chemicals and scrubbing on patinas and no paint would stand up to the process.

As a cross reference, I test the blue glass blobs I bought from Michael’s in December.  No paint scrapes off.  These are real blue glass blobs through and through.

The blue blobs from December are real, the red blobs from March are fake. At this point I’m thinking that maybe Michael’s changed vendors, or their vender changed the manufacturing process, in order to reduce costs.

Since I’m scraping blobs anyway, I scrape the yellow ones I bought from Wal-Mart last summer.  No paint scrapes off.  These are real yellow glass blobs through and through.

OK, the yellow blobs from WM are real, lets go buy some red blobs from WM.  We head out there, they have a bag of red glass blobs, which I buy for $3.00.  I get them home, pull one out and have at it with the xacto.

And I scrape off a nice chunk of red paint.

I’ll say this though, the paint job was much better, more evenly covered, and a much richer color than the Michael’s blobs.  And they all seem to be painted on the top, so at lest they are consistent about the paint job.

But they still are painted and I still can’t use them.

This morning I stopped in at my local stained glass supplier and bought 4 red glass blobs at 13 cents each.  I know these are solid red glass and I can finally finish that window.

So what is the point of all this?

1 Double check your materials.

2 Don’t assume that if you bought it from the same place before that it will be the same quality this time.

3 Look for paint, even if paint isn’t expected.

4 Keep your receipts.

And since I didn’t follow my own advice for point 4,  I now have 2 bags of painted red glass blobs that need a home.  I can’t use them, but you might. If you are interested, head on over to my contact page and let me know.  I’m not going to spend money to ship them anywhere, but if you live in the Chicago area I’ll be happy to meet with you for coffee.



1. Micki Grigg - April 10, 2010

Hi Deb Just thought I would let you know why the red blobs are painted. Red glass is a lot more expensive to make so they make the blobs the cheapest way possible…they spray clear ones with red paint. I fuse glass and make my own blobs when I need them. It is less expensive than buying the finished product from your glass store…and if you are lucky you can find the glass at your local recycle center for real cheap. You can’t mix the glass since you don’t know the COE of the glass but you could use if for the blobs. Just thought I would share the info. I hope it helps to find your blobs in the future.

Deb Kosiba - April 21, 2010

I didn’t know that red glass was that much more expensive. Thanks for letting me know! I don’t have the ability to fuse glass yet, so I’m still dependent on what the stores carry. But after you wrote, I ran across a baby kiln that will allow you to fuse in your microwave. I’ve added it to the mental list of tools I’d like to someday own. And I certainly generate enough of my own glass scraps that I would have enough to make the occasional blob.


2. Carol Richrdson - January 26, 2014

I am a mosaic artist and I had the same problem. Unfortunately the red glass blob was already in place, I scraped off the paint and unfortunately the black substrate was visible.

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