Glass Fusing -
Different Fusing Options and types of Glass
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Glass fusing is so much fun!!! Before we begin to discuss the actual “how to instructions” for fusing glass, we need to tell you the importance of the correct kiln. We have some recommendations. We also need to discuss the different types of finished projects that you might want. When you are making dichroic jewelry, you have some fusing options available. You will find that there is a market for all types of "looks". If you want a tack fused art glass project, rather than a full fused project, it will have a different “target temperature”. A tack fuse will also keep more of the original shape than a full fused project. Our angel faces are always full fused. Visit our angel pin store for examples of the full fused faces.
If you want a full fuse art project, you must remember that the glass will “melt” together and will change shapes. Because full fused glass always “seeks” the height of 6mm, it is important that you layer at least 2 pieces of 3mm glass and for your first project, I suggest 3 pieces of glass. In fact, I suggest a base piece of glass, a piece of dichroic art glass, and a piece of clear glass. Make sure that they are all the same COE.
Dichroic art glass comes in many colors, patterns, and textures such as plain, ripple, and others.
Specialty art glasses such as frit, stringers, sizzle stix etc can be used, but if this is your very first attempt at glass fusing, it will be best to keep things very simple. If you use 2 pieces of glass that are 3mm thick, the finished project should be approximately the same size (not the same shape) after firing. However if you use 3 layers of 3mm glass, the finished piece will “melt” and “spread out” a little.
Make sure the layered glass pieces are the same COE (Coefficients of Expansion). Not all glass is manufactured for fusing and not all fusing glass has the same COE. Coefficient of Expansion is a way of measuring the rate of expansion and contraction at the same temperature. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO USE GLASS THAT HAS THE SAME COE. When we first began glass fusing, we purchased a set of plastic drawers that were small enough to put on our counter top. This works great for the small pieces of dichroic glass that we purchase. It provided a separate space for each color and each COE. This has saved us a lot of heartbreak.
For the larger sheets of glass you will need to purchase a glass caddy or other storage unit. Large sheets of glass need to be stored vertically.
5 Simple Steps
1) Cut your glass in the shapes that you desire. Remember that if you tack fuse -- the piece of art glass will remain in the shape that you cut it. If you full fuse -- the piece will "melt" and round out to a circle or oval shape.
2) Always hold and touch all the glass by the edges so there will be no fingerprints on the finished piece.
3) Place the base glass piece on the prepared kiln shelf first. Then add the dichroic or other decorative art glass and clear glass to the top of the base piece.
4) Make sure the kiln’s electric supply is plugged in and turn it on.
5) Take notes on every aspect of the firing. Every kiln is different and you need to use a firing log. You will learn more about how your kiln heats as you experiment and take notes. You may use the “peep hole” occasionally to watch the glass inside the kiln. (Always wear your Eye Protective Glasses). Make every glass fusing experience a safe one!!!!!
When you begin glass fusing, you will find that it is sometimes necessary to use glue to keep the glass in place on the way to the kiln. It is so heartbreaking to have everything cut and layered on the kiln shelf -- then find that during the firing your glass has slipped and everything is "lop-sided". We have tried many different types of glue (i.e. Elmer’s, rubber cement, “super glue”, hair spray, honey, Pate de Verre (PASTE MADE WITH FRIT -- Glue). We recommend a 50-50 diluted mix of Elmer’s glue and water. Use as little as possible because the residue may be left on your glass fusing project. Most of the types of “glue” we have used have caused fumes, so the kiln must be vented as it is heating up.
We believe that there are three major keys to a successful glass fusing It begins with a slow temperature rise (ramp), the temperature is then held (soaking phase) at the target temperature long enough for the piece in the kiln to maintain a consistent temperature inside and outside, and then followed by a slow cooling (annealing). All of these things will help the temperature of the inside of the piece to reach and remain closer to the temperature of the outside of the piece. The slower change in temperature will help prevent air bubbles in the heating phase and help prevent thermal shock during both the heating and the cooling phases.
Some people suggest a slow ramp of 300 degrees per hour, but this will vary with kilns and with desired results. We do not ramp that slowly, but we suggest you experiment with ramping and record results in a firing log.
The length of time for soaking process will also vary according to the type and thickness of the glass, the desired shape of the finished piece, and the type of kiln you use. It can be very short or it can be as long as an hour or more.
Hold the temp around 1175 - 1250 for 10 - 25 minutes. This allows the pieces of glass to get to an even temperature and the center will begin to fuse. This will allow air to escape before the edges begin to slump.
As soon as you have finished with this hold, you need to heat very quickly to your target temp. about 1450 – 1500. When the glass is at the temperature range of 1300 –1400, there is a danger of devitrification. You don’t want to hold the kiln in that temperature range.
Never open the kiln until the temperature in the kiln reaches 1000 degrees or more. Between room temp and 1000 degrees glass is very brittle.
To ensure that your piece does not over fuse, you must keep a close watch on the kiln during the last 10 minutes.
Target temps for full fuse 1450 – 1550
For tack fuse 1350-1450
Fire polishing 1300-1400
Slumping 1200 - 1300
Fusing in a mold 1500-1600
Follow the time chart for venting, temperature ramp up and annealing. You will close the kiln lid and plug the peepholes.
When you refire glass that has been fused you must remember to slow the heating and cooling times even more than with the raw glass. The glass is twice as thick.
The most important thing to remember about glass fusing and dichroic glass fusing --- HAVE FUN!!! We hope that this page has offered some "How to" instructions.
Visit our Jewelry Store.
Visit our Angel Pin Store.
Examples of our art glass fusing projects
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