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Working with Glass - Fusing Techniques

Posted on January 30, 2011 at 4:38 PM Comments comments (1)

Fusing glass is an adventure. Every time you fuse Glass, even when attempting to something similar to a previous work is like shooting dice. I don't mean to imply that when you fuse glass you do it blindfolded or that you don't have a pretty good idea of what the finished piece will look like. No, when working with fusing glass you do have a pretty good idea of what will happen when you fuse two pieces together - but at the end of the day, after putting your glass together the way you want it to fuse and you close the kiln, from that point you kind of cross your fingers and hope it all turns out all right. Usually it does - if you did everything right - but on occasion, something special (or sometimes not so special) happens and you have a really different outcome than what you originally thought you would have.


It all may sound kind of cavalier and to a point maybe it is - I know when I have put the pieces of glass together what I want it to look like after being fused, and I know if I do certain things before fusing, I can create neat effects - but there is always an unknown that is completely out of your control when you close the kiln door. Some of my favorite pieces have resulted from what might have been a mistake - or certainly wasn't because of anything I intentionally planned on doing. But  to be honest, when I see a really great result from something that I did 'different', I try to remember what it was and then work on that the next time I fuse to experiment and possibly perfect what could be a new technique in fusing glass.


We are  not professionally trained artists, everything we do at Shimmering Glass we do because we got into the work and tried to create something beautiful. We experiment and play with glass, just to see what will happen - and then we try to perfect that to take the really good results to a new level. I am not saying we are doing anything really new or different from what other fused glass artists do, I am only saying that we are self taught, we really don't know the rules because we never read the rule book and as a result, we are free to try anything at least once, in the hopes that the results will bring us a beautiful piece of fused glass. There are plenty of train wrecks, trust me, but in the end, there is a lot of freedom in not knowing what we don't know. And between you and me, that makes fusing glass even more fun, for us anyway.


Sometimes it is simple things, that may seem inconsequential, but those little things really start to make a difference. Like fusing clear glass over the dichroic pieces - or even just fusing clear glass over Opal or Cathedral glasses. This not only makes the glass thicker, stronger, but it adds a depth and dimension to the finished piece of fused glass, sometimes it can be really quite dramatic. Like those tables at bars and restaurants that have thick layers of lacquer over the wood. Clear glass fused over dichroic, opal or cathedral glass can add another dimension and bring our th colors even more.


Another simple mistake that led to some of our better fused glass drop vases resulted from dropping the glass longer than it really should have been dropped. When we heated the glass to 1325, the warm glass began to become soft and more fluid like - not flowing by any means, but it does begin to stretch and 'drop' thru the hold in the mold you are working with. So, the original idea was to drop the glass until it reached the bottom of the kiln and created a flat bottom. Continuing the drop at this point caused the glass to begin to fold back on itself, and in time it created it's 'pedestal. I was shocked the first time this happened - and actually quite pleased - it gave us a way to create a new style of fused glass drop vases - new for us anyway, some of which are really quite special.


Bottom line to all this and the point to this blog, don't be afraid to try new things - look for ways to push your envelope to get different results from the last time you tried doing something. Play with glass when fusing, use layers of glass to get more depth and dimension and when dropping vases, there is no set point at which you should stop the drop, until you feel the look and result is what you want. When it cools and you take it out of the kiln, if it is all still in one piece and it stands upright without falling over - you won! :-) Or, if it didn't quite turn out right - try something different the next time. The nice thing about glass is you can use it over again to make something new.






Turing Mistakes into new works of fused glass art.

Posted on April 23, 2010 at 10:28 PM Comments comments (0)

Fused Glass work can be very forgiving - if you work with your mistakes. What I mean by that is many times works of fused glass art we are working on don't turn out for one reason or another. The glass breaks from stress, the slump doesn't turn out quite the way you wanted or maybe for no other reason than you just don't like the finished piece - you decide that it 'didn't work."

If you were a painter, you could paint white paint over the painting, let it dry and start over. Working with clay, if you have already fired the piece you are pretty much stuck with whatever you did. But with fused glass, you can always turn a monster into a beautiful something.

Some of our best pieces started out as something else entirely. You may not believe me, but at times like this a hammer can be your best friend. I take those glass works of 'art' (and I use the term loosely) and smash it into a thousand pieces. Then, I take all the pieces of broken glass and create a pile of glass in the kiln, trying to keep the glass evenly distributed. Then, turn the kiln on and fuse that pile of broken junk - it will liquify, begin to melt and fuse together. Glass always tries to become 'round' when it is in a liquid state and I read somewhere that when you fuse very thick glass, it tries to flatten out at about 1/4 inch thick don't know the scientific reasons for this - I just know it's true.

This pile of broken pieces of glass will fuse together while flattening out into a round or near round shape. The end result can be an amazing looking piece of glass that can then be slumped or dropped to form a beautiful drop vase or bowl

This Fused Glass "FISH" or "Butterfly" bolwl (it really could be either one) was created from a pile of broken glass that came from a fused glass vase that broke. As long as you know the co-efficient of the glass you are fusing and don't mix 90 with 96 you will be fine. It doesn't matter if you take a piece of glass you fused five years ago - smash it to pieces and start over - it will become a brand new work of art when you have finished. And if you are lucky, the glass will be just as beautiful as something  you created by piecing glass together.

It's one of the reasons we're not afraid to try new things. Because if it doesn't work out, we can always break it to pieces and start over! (I don't know which part is more fun - breaking the piece or fusing it back together!

Fused Glass Art on Sale

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 10:06 PM Comments comments (0)

Shimmering Glass is proud to provide quality one of a kind fused glass art, functional works of art created from fused glass and designed to be used and enjoyed. Every fused glass vase, plate and bowl is truly one of a kind. Creating fused glass vases, plates, bowls and jewelry is fun, but just the same, we work hard to create innovative, unique, beautiful designs and patterns in fused glass.


there is one thing that separates Shimmering Glass from many other artists - we don't put prices on our glass based on what we feel they are worth - we really do price our fused glass designs on the amount of work, the types of glass, the intricacy of the design. Essentially, we want to cover our expenses - pay for the glass, pay for the electricity to run the kilns and maybe pay us a little for our time - but in the end, we feel very strongly that we want to keep the prices on all of our fused glass art as low and reasonable as possible.


Check out this very special fused glass vase, and you will find a very special price for a limited time. A great way for you to save and get a beautiful work of fused glass art affordably. We have priced many other fused glass plates and fused glass bowls at or below our cost. We want to share our fused glass art with you and the world - so we have lowered prices to make it even easier for you to take a piece of Shimmering Glass hone with you.


Look throughout the Shimmering Glass shop and you are sure to see many works of fused glass art with special banners - "On Sale". These fused glass plates, bowls and vases have been lowered in price just for you. Come back often as we will continue to offer sales specials and you never know what you might find on sale.


Thank you for visiting, we  hope you find what you are looking for and most of all we hope you will put a little shimmer into your life with a one of a kind work of fused glass art from Shimmering Glass.

Fused Glass Jewelry in Sterling Silver

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 2:56 PM Comments comments (2)

I honestly don't know quite how to refer to her - Master Goldsmith? Master Metalsmith? Whatever it is - she surely is a master. Elise Worman of EMW Metals has her Masters Degree in Metal Work and years of experience creating custom, one of a kind jewelry. Elise has truly mastered her craft and we are proud to have her work associated with our fused glass jewelry at Shimmering Glass.


Elise has teamed up with Shimmering Glass to offer several incredible pieces of fused glass jewelry, set into luscious sterling silver settings. This may not sound so special, but when you see the work she has done, feel the weight of the jewelry, you will know you have a piece of fused glass jewelry set in sterling silver that is meant to last a lifetime and beyond.


Each piece of fused glass sterling silver jewelry features a custom setting, sterling silver handcrafted to fit the unique piece of fused glass. Both combining to create a beautiful piece of jewelry worthy of being called an "estate piece".

This double fused glass necklace is a great example of the kind of work this collaboration has created. Dichroic Glass wrapped in a deep sterling silver setting, and this is just one of several gorgeous works of fused glass jewelry in sterling silver in the Shimmering Glass Shop.


Elise can also create custom, hand made designs in sterling silver or gold. If  you are looking for a truly one of a kind piece of jewelry and have a design you would like to have handcrafted exclusively for you, send us an email and we'll coordinate putting together a custom piece of fused glass jewelry in any precious metal setting you desire. A great gift for yourself or that special lady in your life. Mothers day is only a few months away, so get your orders in now!


We  hope you enjoy our fused glass jewelry as much as we enjoy making it. We are proud to be working hand in hand with Elise and we are sure if you pick up a piece of fused glass jewelry in sterling silver, you will love it too!

Fused Glass Drop Vases

Posted on February 20, 2010 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I love creating fused glass drop vases - I think what I like the most is  how different easy piece is - even when working with similar types of glass. Dropping glass - a style of slumping glass - is done by placing the the fused glass piece you are working with on a mold with a hole in the center  to a temperature of about 1310 to 1350 degrees, as the glass becomes softer it begins to stretch thru the hole in the mold. Depending on how far you want to stretch the glass and whether you want a a flat bottom to create a self standing piece of a more rounded bottom, the length of time you 'drop' the glass varies greatly.


The size of the glass you are dropping, the diameter of the hole you are dropping thru also play a role in how long it takes. I have done several drop vases that took over 2 hours at 1325 degrees. The initial thought is maybe I should simply go to a higher temperature, but that doesn't always help as it can make the glass stretch too fast.


I also like to try new things, like using different shaped molds, adding fiber rope or felt to the mold to create undulating shapes and also use different shapes of glass, round, square, pieces of fused glass with 'fingers' of glass. There are so many possiblities - and the end result can be really quite amazing. Check out our collection of Fused Glass Drop Vases in the Shimmering Glass Shop -

Fused Glass Ribbon Vases

Posted on February 15, 2010 at 8:03 AM Comments comments (1)

Creating fused glass ribbon vases is a new passion for me. I was inspired by a fused glass bowl I saw in Oregon and I wondered what would happen if I tried to do something similar with a vase. (The Bowl I saw had a circle or ring surrounding the top with spokes running from the ring to the base or body of the bowl.


Creating fused glass ribbon vases, I have created quite a few using that wonderful streaky glass - cutting the piece for the body and the ribbons from the same piece of glass. This works well with streaky glasses because of the unique look of that glass. Wispy streaks of color - various shades merging together - but I have also used brightly colored glasses and fused them into a patchwork of colors. Both work well, you have to decide for yourself which works best for you.


I begin with a 10 inch square. Then I cut strips and pieces and create a ring around the square, making sure to touch the square at all four corners. Cutting additional strips, I place them at various points around the circle, like spokes on a wheel, touching the ring of glass and the square in the center. (One other approach is to cut rings of glass of various sizes. Lay them over the square, crossing over and interconnecting. Both options work - or you can do a combination of the two.


It is very important to try to get a two layer thickness across the entire piece. I often use clear glass to add depth and dimenstion, but compplimentary colored striips of glass over the base pieces can also be used.


After fusing this conglomeration together, you end up with what looks like a wheel with square in the middle, spokes touching the square and the rim.


Slumping this on a steel former, I place fiber blankets and felt in sort of hills surrounding the base of the steel former. This helps to add a unque shape to the top of the glass when it folds and stretches during the slumping process. We have lost a few pieces during the slumping process by either slumping too long or becasue the rings and strips were too thin, so don't be afraid to experiment until you find just the right thickness and timing for you.


When the entire process has finished, you should end up with an amazing fused glass ribbon vase. Ribbons of glass that seem to move, liquid-like throughout the vase, from the body to the top, twisting, folding, flowing like ribbons floating in water.  You can see our latest example of fused glass ribbon vases here