While I’ve been looking into the topic of relaxing crafts for adults, I’ve run across a few different types of glasswork, including fused glass and lampwork.
I asked Lisa, owner of Fuse Muse Fused Glass for some basic information about fused glass as an art form, and she was nice enough to share her thoughts, which I’ve incorporated into this article.
So what exactly is fused glass?
Fused glass is artwork that’s created by bonding smaller pieces of glass together. Glass fusing is done by heating the pieces of glass in a kiln at temperatures around 1400-1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Fused glass is used to make many things, including coasters, pendants, Christmas ornaments, bowls, plates, and suncatchers.
Glass fusing is a hobby that does require some specialized equipment, but there are usually ways to get access to the tools and materials that you’ll need without having to purchase everything yourself.
Table of Contents
- Do I need a kiln to make fused glass?
- What kind of glass is used for fused glass?
- How does glass fusing work?
- What can I make with fused glass?
- Where can I get fused glass supplies?
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Do I need a kiln to make fused glass?
Glass fusing requires the use of a kiln because of the high temperatures needed to meld the pieces together. Different types of kilns include some made for home use and some that are even made to use with a microwave for small pieces. Proper training in using a kiln is recommended before starting projects.
To see some popular kilns on Amazon, click here: Glass fusing kilns
Lisa says “If you don’t want to invest in your own equipment, many glass art studios offer kiln firing for individuals who are just starting out and don’t wish to purchase a kiln for their home.
“This also means that you won’t have to learn how to program a kiln until you are ready to take that next step.”
Kilns are specialized pieces of equipment that need to be used carefully, so this isn’t a hobby for kids to do on their own by any means!
Lisa adds: “Glass fusing is a great hobby for adults who like a bit of science mixed with their creative side. Learning is a constant in a hobby such as this and so you will never perfect all the different elements and techniques. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try, though!”
What kind of glass is used for fused glass?
Fusible glass is specially formulated to behave in a specific way when it’s heated and cooled. It comes in many colors and a few different COE’s (Coefficient of Expansion). The COE measures how quickly the glass will expand and contract as it heats and cools.
Each COE acts differently when it’s being heated, so you have to make sure that the types of glass that you’re using in a single project are all the same so that they behave similarly.
This just means if you use COE 90 glass, you can’t mix it with COE 96 Glass in the same piece. So basically you choose which glass you wish to use and stick with it.
Fusible glass comes in a wide range of colors in every COE, so you’ll have many choices when you design your pieces.
Lisa adds: “You’re going to need a glass cutter and a little practice cutting glass. It really isn’t hard to learn how to cut glass, and anyone can be off to the races in 10 minutes or less.”
How does glass fusing work?
Fusible glass, when heated, will melt and will settle out at 2 layers in thickness. So if you have two layers of the same size, the edges will soften and they will fuse to become one piece of glass of uniform thickness the same size as they started.
If you stack a third layer on top, the glass will still fuse to become two layers thick, but it will expand and become larger in size.
The opposite will happen if you only layer a small piece on top of a larger piece. It will try to fuse to two layers in thickness, but the size of the piece will get smaller.
Sometimes this idea is easier shown with pictures as seen in these technotes from Bullseye Glass.
What can I make with fused glass?
Lisa says that there are many pieces that beginners can make with glass fusing.
“To start fusing glass, many artists will start with coasters. A basic coaster will layer different colors of glass on a clear piece of glass making a striped coaster.
“Others will lay frit on top in different sizes and colors. Frit is different sizes of crushed glass in different colors. It comes in 5 sizes from Mosaic down to powder.
“You can also use a piece of glass with its own design on a clear piece and make a coaster of that design.
“All the above designs would be “full” fused.
“If you wanted to get some texture from your glass you can also ‘tack’ fuse or ‘contour’ fuse. These are different temperatures you would heat your glass to that wouldn’t fully fuse it, but would soften edges and not become completely molten.”
Where can I get fused glass supplies?
Fused glass supplies are available online or in person at glass studios that offer classes. You can also get some unique supplies online from glass artists on Etsy
Lisa says “If you want to get instant results that you love, give my glass fusing precuts a try. We have over 200 different shapes and you are sure to find one you love for your first project.”
To find art studios that offer glass kiln use and classes on glass fusing, simply search in your local area for “glass fusing studios.” There are a lot of places that offer classes and let people use the kilns so that you don’t have to invest in the equipment.
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