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Working with Glass - Fusing Techniques

Posted on January 30, 2011 at 4:38 PM

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.






Categories: Glass Fusing - Working with Fused Glass, Fused Glass Techniques

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1 Comment

Reply ellen
8:46 PM on December 25, 2012 
hi richard;

i have seen your work in the slumpy's gallery and wondered if you could share with me the name of the forms you used for the handkerchief vessels. the ones where you used a square piece of glass. i am a fuser too and have done some of them myself, but i want to order from slumpys and i am not sure which ones you used. i especially like the taller ones.

thank you for sharing,