Most people have no idea what glass fusing is and often think it’s the same thing as glass blowing. Fusing is a very different process.
Glass fusing is a form of melting glass in a kiln. A special type of glass is made for fusing. It comes in sheets of different sizes, colors and price ranges. The sheets of glass can be as big as 3 feet by 4 feet or as small as a few inches. The glass also comes in different forms – crushed small bits, powdered glass, glass flakes, glass rods, and much more, all of which can be added to a glass creation to form different types of fused glass art.
Then the creative process starts. What should I make? Dishes, bowls, platters, plant stakes, pieces to be used in jewelry, sun catchers, coasters or a stand alone art piece? Sometimes the design in the glass itself leads to a creative idea. Other times I get ideas from things I see in nature or around me. Then I determine what the shape and size of my project will be and the colors of glass I will use. I cut the base glass, grind the edges to take off jagged or sharp parts, and cut more glass pieces to make my “picture,” which is layered on top of the base glass.
When my design is done, it goes into a kiln made specifically for fusing glass. This step takes about 12 hours to heat up, melt everything together and then cool. It comes out flat. This flat creation is set on a ceramic mold and goes into the kiln a second time. Now it will “slump” or melt into the the shape of the mold and come out as a bowl, plate, tray or whatever mold was used.
Sometimes things go wrong in the kiln. The glass can turn a color not intended, form big bubbles, crack or shatter. This could be due to human error, something in the glass itself, the melting process in the kiln, the age of the glass, a power outage or numerous other things. I consider everything an unfinished experiment until it’s out of the kiln. It’s all part of the process.
Glass fusing is an expensive form of art, between the cost of glass and all the expensive tools of the trade required to create it, such as a kiln, grinders and molds, to name a few. In my case, I pay a monthly fee to be part of a glass class co-op group that meets once a week for 3 hours. The people in this group share work space for our projects and the equipment to create them. Then our projects are fired together in a huge kiln. This lets us save money on the cost of equipment but also limits the time we have to create or experiment with our fused glass creations.