Have you ever wondered... What is Fused Glass?
The short description is taking pieces of glass and fusing them together to make something beautiful.
Truth be told, it can be that simple!
However, working with glass also can be much more detailed, involved and time consuming.
Here’s a look at my process of making my fused glass hearts.
With a design in mind, I choose my glass.
In my studio, I use Bullseye ™ Glass which is manufactured especially for fusing.
Without getting into all of the technical details, fusing glass is made and tested to be compatible when fused. I buy glass in sheets, rods, stringers, frit (crumbles of glass in various sizes) powder, and liquid paints.
Often, I “create” my own glass to make custom design elements that are incorporated into a larger piece.
There are many ways to create custom glass. One way can be seen in this picture.
Here I have taken small bits of different colors of glass, placed them in a clay pot and heated it in the kiln until the glass begins to flow out of a hole in the bottom of the pot.
The picture shows my daughter pulling glass from the pot to make vitrograph stringers.
While I did not use vitrograph stringers in the heart project described here, I often do!
Once the glass is selected, I cut, clean and assemble the pieces. The pieces can vary in size from large to very small. All the cutting for the hearts is done either using a strip cutter or by hand. There are also stringers and frit used in the tile.
For the first firing I create a glass tile that is about ½ inch thick.
To keep it from spreading, it is built in a form that contains that glass in the kiln as it heats to a liquid and then cools back to solid form.
Hot glass always wants to be ¼ inch thick and will spread (like a puddle) at fusing temperatures unless it is contained by some kind of form.
The firing schedule for the large tile is very slow going up to about 1475 degees and then back down again.
It is done slowly to help prevent bubbles and to properly anneal the piece during the cooling process.
Glass that I not properly annealed will be unstable when cooling and will almost always crack either during the cooling or soon after. The entire firing takes almost 24 hours!
Once the tile is cooled I can really start to play!
I mark out my pieces, in this case hearts, and rev up my wet saw and grinder.
The tile is cut and the edges of each piece ground at two different grits to create smooth edges.
The Hearts are then cleaned and returned to the kiln for another firing that will round the edges and polish the piece.
This firing is quicker because the pieces are smaller… only about 12 hours!