Glass Fusion – The Short Version
Glass fusion in its current form is a relatively new art form. Unlike stained glass, glass fusion actually melts the pieces of glass together into a single cohesive piece. There are a wide variety of techniques and the art is constantly evolving. The artist will cut colored glass into the sizes and shapes for each piece and then build the project by laying out and layering the glass pieces to achieve the desired effect. Crushed glass and powdered glass can be used to create the effect of almost painting with glass. Special paints can also be incorporated into the pieces for a wide variety of results. Other materials can sometimes be incorporated as long as it can withstand the high heat required to soften and fuse the glass, normally somewhere between 1300 to 1500 degrees.
When you come into the studio for the first time, we will start by teaching you the basics of how to cut and break glass intentionally. We will go through the common tools you will use based on the design you want to make.
A quick “tour” of all the different forms of glass you can use and you are then let loose to create. We will give you advice and guidance throughout your project to help achieve the desired results and to increase the odds of a successful finished project.
As you build your piece you will want to make sure that you clean each piece of glass to remove any oils from the glass as these can leave permanent dull spots on the glass. There is glass cleaner and paper towels on each table to facilitate this step.
Depending on the design of your piece, you will either use Elmer’s Glue or a special liquid glue to help hold your glass design in place for transit to the kiln. Sometimes we will forgo glue if we think we can transport without disrupting the design.
You will build your piece by layering pieces of glass. A base piece, either clear or colored, if required to hold everything together in most projects. Smaller pieces of glass are then added on top in the pattern of your choice.
Once your piece goes into the kiln it will fuse for roughly 24-hours depending on which kiln it goes into. The glass has to heat up slowly to the target temperature of 1385-1505 degrees Fahrenheit and then cool down slowly back to room temperature.
If your final shape will be anything other than flat, it will need a second 24-hour cycle in the kiln to achieve the desired slumped shape. When slumping, the flat glass is balanced on top of a ceramic mold and heated up again, but only to 1235 degrees Fahrenheit .
There are a few projects that may require a third cycle in the cycle, but most pieces only need up to 2 firings. Normal time for you to get your finished piece is about a week, often less, once in a while longer.