A series of crafty articles written by Stained Glass Artist Amy Orangejuice
I am getting a kiln, primarily for glass painting but I am becoming slightly obsessed with fusing, so this week I am really getting inspired myself! This weeks artists have mastered the somewhat unpredicateble craft of fusing glass and they are going to tell us all about it.
What is fused glass? There are various techniques and Blue Daisy Glass explains how to make one of her pendants, “The pendants are made from 2 or 3 layers of glass stacked up and fired in a digitally controlled kiln. The high temperatures approx 800 C permanently fuse the pieces together. After cooling decals or other accents can be added. Sometimes the glass is reworked and then refired to add shine. Different fusing temperatures create different effects. The ‘spa/blob’ pendants are gently tack fused but if fired at a higher temperature the blobs would simply melt and merge into the base layer, much like the poppy field pendant”.
Tropical Jewel Glass Design goes on to explain how she makes her bowls and the importance of understanding how glass reacts with heat, “My fused pieces are built up in layers, starting with a clear glass base topped with either more clear glass with some frit for a touch of delicate colour, or a solid colour. I then build the design by cutting out shapes from glass… Depending upon the design, I sometimes add some glass frit for a bit of texture, and stringers which I pull from glass rods in the lampworking torch… Once the design is complete, the piece is fused in the kiln for up to 14 hours, allowing it to anneal by cooling slowly. This equalises tension in the glass in order to prevent cracking. At this stage the hangings are ready, however the bowls are then returned to the kiln and slumped over a mould to achieve the required shape.”
So you need access to a kiln, preferably with digital controls, compatable glass (non compatable glass may crack or not fuse properly) and some more decorative items such as frit (ground up glass powder) and glass rods and decals. There is a massive range available to suite all tastes.
So how did our fusers get started? None of them have a stained glass background (which is the natural progression) and what inspires them?
BlueDaisyGlass says,”My inspiration comes from the glass itself. I place pieces together to try and create some uniformity amidst the mad colours of the dichroic glass. With the decals I work backwards from the picture to create a background that I think would suit each one. Love the fact that there is no wastage as even the smallest scraps can be used in my pendants”.
TropicalJewelGlassDesign has owned an art gallery with a fantastic range of glass for many years and “grew up in the British Virgin Islands; as a child was fascinated by glass…I love the vibrant colours of the Caribbean, and am particularly inspired by sea and beautiful, colourful fish which are reflected in my glass”.
Glassprimitif came to fused glass by being a very generous mother! “I started fusing glass after my daughter took a class in enamelling at school and I bought her an enamelling kiln. She immediately lost interest in enamelling (teenagers, huh?) and every piece of enamelled copper I made was a disaster. But I really enjoyed melting pieces of picture glass in the kiln. Two kilns later I now make fused glass dishes, fishes and jewellery using Bullseye glass. I love glass because it has so many limitations which is why it is interesting to me. I trained as a textile designer and glass stretches my design ideas. Glass is extremely tactile and comes in some fabulously yummy colours (although I have never found the perfect pink). I think I’m addicted”.
So where do you look if you want to have a go?
Fusing is becoming incredibly popular and the are a profusion of warm glass courses around the UK. The finest courses in the industry are run by Northland Glass who run a wide range of very high quality courses and residencies, but the are a massive range of courses available around the country in private studios from one day taster courses to longer accredited courses, get on your preferred search engine to find one near you!
This video will give you a taste of fusing
If you prefer something to read www.warm-glass.co.uk has a great range of books and materials.
Well this has certainly inspired me….can you hear my fingers drumming on the table whilst I wait for my new toy to arrive?
More about our columnist
Take a look at some of the other fascinating handcrafts that Amy has tackled in her Inspiring Creativity series.
Thanks for reading, we look forward to hearing your comments.