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Art Lesson: Fused Glass

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Art Lesson Class Glass Fusing1 Art Lesson: Fused Glass

I recently did my first glass fusing art lesson with my high school 3D II students, and they loved it! Only halfway through the first day of fusing almost everyone of my students had proclaimed this as their favorite project. It’s easy, fun, and almost fool proof. Even my students who quickly rushed through, and didn’t really consider the design had a good turn out. I am now starting this with my 3D I student and can’t wait to see what they produce! First off I aplogize for the terrible photographs. They were already set up for our annual art show when I realized I hadn’t gotten pictures yet. They will be replaced with better ones once the show comes down! In this post you will find the necessary supplies, approximate cost, and how to to do this with your own students!

Art Lesson Geometric Fused Glass Plate and Necklace Art Lesson: Fused Glass

SUPPLIES:

  • A digital kiln: They do make glass kilns but I converted one of my ceramic kilns to glass only. It is a programable Skutt kiln. By entering “ramp and hold” information I am able to achieve the same results as I would in a glass kiln!
  • Glass glove: Not necessary but a number of my students left class with sliced fingers, and the majority of them were using the gloves by the end of the project
  • Grozer: Glass scorer for organic shapes
  • Glass pliers: For breaking
  • Glass breaker: I found a cheap pink one that works great!
  • Cutting system: I bought a kit that included a waffle grid, Flying Beetle cutter, and a Beetle bit cutter
  • Kiln wash or spray: I use the spray and it is more expensive but you don’t have to set the wash before you fire on it, it’s very easy!
  • Kiln wash sheets: I place these thin sheets on top of my ceramic kiln shelves, each one lasts a few firings, and they cost $5 per sheet, so this adds up.
  • Adhesive, heat gun, bail bonds: This is if you want to do jewelry pieces and pendants
  • Molds: I have a variety of plate and bowl molds, my most popular are my 7″ sqaure bowl and jumping bean mini bowl, I plan to purchase a few of these in the future.
  • 96 COE glass: You must purchase glass with the same COE, 96 is the easiest to work with
  • 96 COE frit: Ground up glass into a sand like substance
  • Noodles and stringers: Long, thin pieces of glass

APPROXIMATE COST: $600.00

HOW TO:

For the assignment I began with a powerpoint explaining the process, what glass fusing is, how it’s done, and what our assignment is. I left the requirements very loose, each student had to create one plate or bowl, using a clear sheet of glass as a base, and add color pieces on top to create their design. I am glad it was open ended because it gave them the chance to push themselves to come up with an interesting design. Once I completed the powerpoint I demonstrated how to use the tools and went over a few tips when working with glass:

  • Glass wants to be 1/4 of an inch thick. If you fire one sheet of glass, without adding to it, it will shrink in order to get to a 1/4″ thick. If you stack two layer of glass it will stay about the same thickness, if you stack more than two it will spread to 1/4″ thick. If you put two layers in one area, and leave another area just one layer, you may end up with an uneven edge because of the shrinking and spreading. 
  • You can’t stack more than three sheets of glass together, I recommended they stick with just two layers.
  • When you layer glass together you run the risk of trapping air pockets
  • If you fire the sheet of clear under the color cut pieces the cut pieces may end up with more rounded edges. If you fire the clear glaze on top it prevents the cut pieces from spreading as much, and you get much cleaner lines

Once they understood the assignment and process they began working on their sketches. They were required to create at least three, and they had to be full color. I wanted them to consider the color and placement of the pieces before they began cutting to reduce the amount of wasted glass. After I approved their design they got to work.

They began by measuring the mold they wanted to use, and drawing it on a sheet of clear using sharpie. This was done at their seat to reduce the amount of traffic at the cutting station. Once they were ready to cut, they moved to the cutting station, made their cuts, breaks, then took it back to their seat. Once their base was cut we used hand sanitizer to remove the sharpie lines. I believe any alcohol based cleaning product will work, I just happened to have hand sanitizer, and it reduced the amount of germs floating around in the room.

After their base was cut they began cutting the color pieces and creating their designs. After each piece was cut they used a couple dots of Elmer’s glue to stick the color piece to the clear glass base. You only want to use enough to keep the glass from sliding when you place it in the kiln. If you use too much it will char in the firing and leave a gray mark. Rather than measuring the space the color piece was meant to go, and then marking the piece based on the ruler, I had my student set the color sheets on their mold and mark where the edges needed to hit. This helped reduce the number of wrong cuts and mis-measuring.

Once their design was complete we placed them in the kiln and full fused them. You can only put one shelf layer of glass in at a time, you can’t stack shelves like you can with ceramics, so this process can take longer if you have to do multiple firings. After they were full fused we placed them in the molds and slumped them!
Art Lesson Fused Glass Sushi Plates1 Art Lesson: Fused Glass

I have a Skutt electric ceramic kiln, and in order to fire glass I use the “ramp/hold” option on my kiln. The following are firing schedules I currently use, and have had success with. To program them into my kiln I press “ramp/hold” enter the number of segments, hit enter, and enter the rest of the data (temperature rise per hour, goal temp, hold time, for each segment). I then hit “review”, it runs through my program, and at the end I hit the “on” button, it’s very easy!

Tack fuse (glass will have a raised texture)

5 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 400/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 2: 75/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 3: 9999 (as fast as possible), 1380 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 4: 9999, 950 degrees, HOLD 10 monutes

Ramp 5: 100 HR, 800 degrees, 0 HOLD

 

Full fuse (glass will be smooth)

5 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 400/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 2: 75/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 3: 9999 (as fast as possible), 1450 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 4: 9999, 950 degrees, HOLD 10 monutes

Ramp 5: 100 HR, 800 degrees, 0 HOLD

 

Slump (Glass is just warm enough to take the form of your mold)

6 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 150/HR, 300 degrees, HOLD 15 minutes

Ramp 2: 300/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 20 minutes

Ramp 3: 150/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 25 minutes

Ramp 4: 400, 950 degrees, HOLD 60 monutes

Ramp 5: 150 HR, 800 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 6: 300/HR, 100 degrees, 0 HOLD

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and I hope you can use these tips if you are looking to try glass fusing in your classroom. Feel free to comment or email me with questions, concerns, or thoughts in general. Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by on April 12, 2013

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