Tuesday, 7 August 2012

So you want to start glass fusing....

Whenever I teach a Beginners' Glass Fusing Workshop there is at least one person who decides that glass fusing is the craft for them and they want to do it NOW.
Then they start to consider the costs of setting up a glass fusing studio and the doubt sets in....

OK, so Glass Fusing isn't a hobby you can do at the kitchen table and then clear away for tea. Also, some of the kit is rather expensive (such as a kiln and grinder) and then there's the long process of learning how to operate the kiln, understanding the way glass behaves in high temperatures and being able to put up with more failures than successes at first. But, if you are committed to a love of all things glass, then most problems can be overcome and the final results of creating something both tactile and beautiful make it all worthwhile. 

I learned to fuse glass in a second hand enamelling kiln and all my guidance came from glass fusing websites in the USA. I learned a lot more by joining a glass team on Etsy and I have gained both lots of knowledge and good friends through the Creative Glass Guild of Etsy. But it has been a long, but enjoyable, journey. 

So, what do you need? 

Tools and Equipment
·   Glass cutter – choose an oil filled one such as a Toyo
·   Grozers – ideal for breaking and nibbling glass
·   Cut Running Pliers – for  breaking large pieces of glass
·   Glass Grinder – electric or hand sanding block or     carborundum stone to smooth edges
·   Permanent marker pen – to draw onto glass

Glass Types
·  Float glass – picture or window glass. Molten glass floated on a bed of molten tin to make a smooth, transparent glass. Quite brittle, fuses at 82COE, has a green tinge after firing

·  Bullseye – softer glass with slightly textured surface and, as it is hand rolled, has imperfections in the surface that disappear when fused. Transparent is easier to cut than opal. Fuses at 90COE, is compatible with Uroboros glass

·   Spectrum 96 – cheaper than Bullseye, smaller range of colours and opals are very bright. 96COE

Glass Fusing Basics
 Glass can be cut on thick mdf or a self healing mat
Always handle large sheets with cotton gloves and store upright. Sheet glass held horizontally will increase pressure on centre of the glass and will fracture
When cutting glass take care not to damage the tungsten carbide wheel of the cutter, practice cutting on scrap pieces of float glass
Keep brushing up glass shards as you work   
Check the water level and temperature of the glass grinder before using
Grind all glass from right to left, taking care not to apply pressure to the diamond head
·  Remember to wear goggles when grinding glass
·  Wash all glass component pieces in hot, soapy water, removing all traces of grease and permanent marker pen. Rinse in hot water and dry well

Jo Whitehead

1 comment:

  1. I always wish I could spend some time at home and try glass works. Though not the very complex one but at least I'll be able to do the manual work and enjoy my output. Thanks for the tips, bookmarked this blog.


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