Beach Glass Fusion - Fused and Cast Art Glass by Sandy Beach
How Fused Glass is Made

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Making Fused and Cast Art Glass
aka Kiln-Fired Glass, aka Warm Glass

Glass
Glass used for Kiln-Fired Pieces MUST be made from glass which has the same coefficient of expansion (COE), meaning it expands and contracts at the same rate in the kiln and after-wards.*** We use only Spectrum 96 and compatible (COE 96) glass.

Design & Cutting
An art piece, from a functional bowl to a pair of earrings, is designed by the glass artist. From that design concept, a pattern may be created. Pieces of specific glass are cut to fit that pattern. Usually there is more than one layer, and often several layers, to any one piece. The pieces are stacked and often glued together for firing.

Fusing
The glass is then fused into one solid piece in a kiln at temperatures between 1480-1500 degrees F. for a full fuse (slightly less for tack or contour fuses).

Slumping and/or Draping
Except for some jewelry pieces, coasters, etc., most pieces are kiln-fired again, usually in a mold to give shape to the piece at temperatures 1240-1300 degrees F.

Other Processes
Other types of kiln-fired glass, such as casting or pot-melting require firings in the 1700 degree F. range.

Cold Working
Before, during and after initial firings, pieces may require cold-working, a term which includes grozing, grinding, sandblasting, polishing and other techniques before a next-stage firing, including fire-polishing to provide a fine finish. Some pieces require multiple firings and cold-working before completion.

And there you have your art glass piece!

Why not recycle glass?
The glass artist can recycle bottle glass as long as all glass in each piece comes from the same bottle or from identical bottles from the same manufacturer or if only one bottle is used per project. And even then, results can not be guaranteed (due to varying COE's). Likewise, "plate" (window) glass may be reused as long as each new piece is made from a single piece of glass. A major frustration to all glass artists.

After attending a "Fusing with Recycled Glass" workshop with noted glass expert Brad Walker in August 2011, we have been "playing" with using recycled tempered glass; see the results at the bottom of the Pot Melt Log page.

Notes:
***This type art glass is very expensive ranging from $6 per square foot for clear single thickness glass to $26 or more per square foot for specially colored or textured glass. Dichroic (metal coated) glass can range from $115 to $190 (and much more) per square foot. Dichroic glass is therefore usually used in jewelry or as an accent in larger pieces. The cost of the glass is usually the greatest single cost in the creation of any art or cast glass piece.

Making a 6 Fused Glass Mondrian-Inspired Plate
(see Commissions page for larger versions)

 

Step 1 Create the concept and/or make a pattern, in this case a small plate inspired Mondrian's "Composition #2."
Step 2 Cut the glass in this case 14 pieces, a 6" base piece and 13 "puzzle" pieces to place on top.
Step 3 Clean glass, glue up the pieces, allow to dry thoroughly to prevent large bubbles.
Step 4 Full fuse to 1480 F., up to 16+ hours, resulting in completely integrated piece with rounded edges.
Step 5 Slump into mold at 1280 F., up to 12+hours. In this case a bisque ceramic mold was used to produce this softly sloped appetizer or dessert plate. 

For more information, email sandy@beachglassfusion.com

 

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