I was lucky enough to attend the 2018 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in May as part of the YBLTV team. By attending, I mean running around the super-galactic maze of the newest most innovative products on the market in search of a select few ingenious products that I found to be truly inspired. Then I chose a couple to test drive and determine for myself if they are genuinely kickass game changers, or just full of hot air like my ex. It’s worth mentioning that although I have long believed I should be paid for my opinions on well, everything, that is not the case with my reviews. These are my honest opinions and true experiences.
I was drawn from one booth to another with a sense of urgent exploration that at times bordered on manic until I found myself deep in the thick of it circling, doubling back, and scanning the distance looking for a familiar landmark that would tell me if I was facing north, south, east or the other one. You know that feeling when you’re lost in the woods and get an immediate flush in your gut of nausea and despair when you spot the same tree trunk for the third time in four hours and start contemplating smoke signals? That was me.
It might better be described as being lost in a cornfield when your eight years old after having chased your big brothers around playing tag for two hours and all of a sudden, they aren’t anywhere to be found. You yell and bellow their names but are met with only silence and the foreboding sound of cornstalks waving in the wind. Nope, with the warped sense of humor only adolescent boys possess, they ditched you stranded in cornstalks three feet taller than your head in straight rows as far as you could see in every direction. So, if you really want to know what exploring the 2018 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas felt like, pull your car over the next time you’re driving past a huge cornfield and walk five minutes down a row, run in big circles for five minutes, then zig-zag for three. Now find your car.
That’s about where I was at the end of a long day when I spotted something shiny out of the corner of my eye. I blankly stumbled over to the pretty sparkling colors like an oasis in the desert serving Cadillac Margaritas in a salted glass.
That was the magical moment I discovered American Fire Glass. What in the world is fire glass you ask? Essentially, fire glass is brightly colored reflective glass with a mirror-like surface broken into little pieces. It’s the long-overdue replacement of the dated and sad looking fake logs we try to avoid noticing when we light the fireplace by flipping a light switch. As a country girl raised in the frozen tundra, I had never even seen a gas fireplace growing up except in a Holiday Inn Lobby. I find the whole thing while extremely convenient, underwhelming, much like pre-cooked baby-back ribs. It’s like a genuine raging blazing fireplace that has given up on life.
In fact, this will be the first time I have used the word, “transformed” to describe a product I am reviewing, but American Fire Glass creates by far the most amazing transformation of a room, I never knew existed.
It was a bit difficult to imagine the brightly colored glass in a fireplace. Will it look cheesy like the lollypop-pink lipstick I convinced myself looked refreshing until I caught my reflection on a blind date? Yet, the sparkling colors reminded me warmly of the years I lived on St. Thomas.
After a storm, we would go hunting for sea-glass that the ocean tides had tossed onto the beaches. Pieces of broken glass that had once been something like a bottle of Sky Vodka formed into glistening pieces of brightly colored glass now polished smooth with a brilliant sheen from years of bouncing around in the ocean until finding their way to our island shores where they waited to be discovered. When the storm waves finally settled, the sun returned and its rays reflected off the precious jewels now glistening under the seashells and bringing them out of hiding. That my darlings, is treasure hunting in its purest form.
I had some questions as to the composition of the glass itself, and the logistics as to what it entails. Mostly, I wanted to know what the likelihood was of me breaking the fireplace or setting the house on fire. As luck would have it, David Nelson, one of the owners was there and he filled me in on all the details. I learned it’s made from premium grade, high quality tempered safety glass that won’t melt, create soot or ash, doesn’t release any toxic fumes and best of all, won’t fade. I was trying to envision how I would go about covering the fake logs with the glass. I was gob-smacked to learn that most fake logs in gas fireplaces just sit there in their drabness unattached to anything. You can simply remove them. I had no idea! Problem solved.
I was sold when Dave described how the flames make their own way weaving naturally up through the fire glass in an uneven pattern creating vibrant colorful flames when they reflect off the mirror-like finish. He showed me a wide variety of colors, shapes and textures and various combinations to mix and match so they coordinate with the room for a dynamic effect. I had to see this for myself! I chose to go with a ten-pound bag of one color that I could not take my eyes off; ‘Pacific Blue’ Premium. It held the same intense reflective blues of the ocean I miss so badly. You can pick up a ten-pound bag for about $50 at most big hardware stores or anywhere fireplaces are sold; who knew!
After having only taken a few steps carrying the ten-pound bag of broken glass on my shoulder, I was instantaneously sucked back into the vortex of the convention maze and it occurred to me I was still lost with no exit in sight. I knew it would take me a half hour to walk back to my car and once again, I considered smoke signals. Instead, I did the next best thing. Take note guys; I asked for directions.
That weekend with no plan of attack whatsoever, and no idea of what obstacles I would discover when I tried to remove the pitiful fake logs, I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. Just like Dave said, the fake logs easily lifted right out, and I had my first look at what I was working with; not much. It turned out the wrought iron log cradle was also fake. There was just the one piece you could see in front. That’s when I understood the big selection of burner pans on display that of course, I walked right past.
Since I didn’t have a burner pan, I needed to create an elevated base for the glass to sit on myself. So, I turned a bread pan upside down and slipped it under the long burner. Then I made tinfoil balls to create the rest of the base being careful not to cover the burner which has the holes the flames come through. I figured tinfoil is heat resistant and had the added bonus of being reflective, so it could only enhance the display. I slipped on some gardening gloves and poured the bag of broken glass over the whole thing this time covering the burner and the entire tinfoil base. I let some pieces fall to the ground for another level of reflecting glass.
Another option might be using bricks to build a base and hiding them with a black grill mat. You could also try a large deep baking pan. The possibilities are endless, just open your mind and start digging in your cupboards.
The moment I poured the glass it was instantly gorgeous because it reflected just from the ambient light alone. I wasn’t expecting that. It surprises me every time I walk into the room. I have never seen a more beautiful fireplace without flames. This turns out to be a big deal since I live in Las Vegas and it’s currently a hundred and fourteen degrees outside.
When I flipped the switch, it truly took my breath away. It was without question the most beautiful fireplace I had ever seen. The flames crept up through the glass pieces and turned into vibrant blue flames madly reflecting off the mirrored glass which by now were glowing a vibrant blue. I was awestruck and simply dying to share it with someone. It was a lot like seeing the Grand Canyon alone for the first time. I had to fight my urge to knock on my neighbor’s doors and invite them over to see my masterpiece even though I didn’t actually know any of them, you know, personally.
My tired old gas fireplace is now breathtaking, elegant, and modern. Even better, it took a total of ten minutes to create. To sum it up, it is delightful, and I am tickled to pieces every time ‘I turn it on’ (words that still stick in my throat).
I sat back admiring my glorious fireplace feeling entirely pleased with myself when I realized I still had some glass left. My mind turned into a brainstorming frenzy with ideas ricocheting off ideas like a mad scientist on crack. So, it became that another art project was rocket fueled, and I was on a mission.
As I do every time I start a project, I grabbed my big grey tube of E-6000 glue. You can find it anywhere big tubes of glue are sold, such as Home Depot and Hobby Lobby. I only discovered E-6000 a couple years ago when I was growing tired of losing layers of skin off my fingertips while what I was gluing fell apart. I am convinced the only thing super-glue dries to in thirty- seconds is human skin. So, before I permanently removed my fingerprints I went in search of a new adhesive. Several people suggested E-6000, so I used it to bedazzle a couple jean jackets and from then on, I was stuck to it for life. Get it? Stuck for life.
I then dug out an assortment of random glass and crystal treasures previously collected from second-hand stores for no particular reason.
I started by turning a long-stemmed dessert bowl upside-down to use as a base. I glued a soft blue etched bread plate to the bottom of the glass and a crystal serving bowl on top of the plate. Finally, I sat my prized German etched crystal candle holder with matching cover inside the serving bowl. I was delighted. In minutes, I created an upside-down castle of crystal intrigue, at least I thought so.
I set my crystal castle masterpiece in front of the fireplace and poured the rest of the Pacific Blue glass pieces into the serving bowl, candle holder and a few pieces onto the blue etched plate. They immediately picked up the reflections from the fire, and the blue pieces came to life flickering through the etched crystal cover of the candle holder. It was breathtaking.
This was indeed an impressive transformation, and so easily created. I instantly wanted to share my discovery with the world because well, absolutely everyone should do this! The blue flames reflecting off the glass continued dancing right before my eyes and I was nearly squealing with delight! The combination of the fireplace and my crystal castle make an eye candy masterpiece, and I am thrilled with the results.
By Cynthia Stetzer©-2018