So, now that your here, you're wondering, "What is fused glass anyway?" Fused glass has been around for thousands of years. The Egyptians were the first documented culture to begin working with fused glass, but mother nature has given us fused glass for millions of years!
Volcanoes throughout world history have spewed ash and lava and all kinds of nasty things. Often, some volcanic erruptions have resulted in the formation of glass; sand and silica fusing at incredibly high temperatures.
For our part, creating works of fused glass art is an artform. Cutting small bits of glass, creating unique designs and patterns and nearly melting the glass to fuse it together, you might say it is " Liquidllike expressionism". Abstract and geometric patterns and designs created by cutting colored glass into specific shapes, heating the glass until it blends or fuses with other pieces of glass to create a new, unique piece of fused glass. Technically, scientists would tell you that all glass is in a liquid state at all times. That is a concept that even I have trouble getting my arms around. How can glass be liquid when it can be broken into a thousand pieces by simply dropping it? If it is liquid, shouldn't it just go splat?
The scientists would then say that while hardend to the touch, glass is liquid, it's just that the molecules are moving real slowly. (Yeah, REAL SLOWLY) Oh well, I won't try to argue the point, but what I will tell you about is what Fused Glass means to us and a little about how it works.
At Shimmering Glass, the fused glass process begins with an idea. A design or pattern is conceived, created,cut and then fused together. Fusing glass requires that you use glass with similar coeeficients. Put more simply, different types of glass have different rates of expansion and contraction during the heating and cooling process. You must always use glass with the same coefficient rating or stress will build up in the glass and it will ultimately break. Sometimes, it will downright shatter into thousands of pieces.
Shimmering Glass primarily uses glass with 90 and 96 coefficient ratings from Bullseye, Urorboros, Wasser and Spectrum. Wismach is also now offerign fusible glass and we plan to try their blend soon as well. We also love working with iridized and dichroic glasses to create shimmering effects in the finished piece.
Fusing Glass requires that you heat the glass pieces to nearly 1500 degrees. Slowly ramping the temperatures over a period of several hours to try to prevent stress from building up within the fused glass piece. When the heated glass nears the 1500 degree mark, it becomes more fluidlike and begins to blend and merge, fusing with the glass pieces around it. We usually hold the kiln temperature at 1485 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes before slowly brining the temperature down, cooling the glass over a period of hours (almost 12 hours) until it reaches room temperature.
Once the glass has been fused, assuming you didn't open the kiln too early and cause the glass to break or crack, it's time to 'slump' the glass. Slump sounds like a funny word for such an exacting process, but it is what it is. Fused Glass is placed into or on a mold (usually ceramic or stainles steel) heated (to approximately 1250 degrees) until it begins to soften and form over or into the mold you have selected. Once the glass has aquired the shape you want (it is ok to peak at the slumping points) the kiln is slowly cooled again over 12 hours or so unitl it has once again returned to room temperature.
Shimmering Glass creates many different types of fused glass vases; Handkerchief Fused Glass Vases, which look almost like tissues pulled from a box. Fused Glass Ribbon Vases, fused glass drop vases and more. There are many different techniques and approaches to fusing and slumping glass. At Shimmering Glass we love to experiment, try different things to see what will happen. Sometimes it's a train wreck and the fused glass art is just not what we hoped, but often the resulting fused glass piece is nothing short of amazing.
Our hope is to create functional fused glass art, through the fusing and slumping process to bring you truly beautiful, functional, one of a kind fused glass works of art. As time goes on we'll share our techniques and designs in the hopes we can instill the same love for glass that we have, for you.