Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Using Fused Glass In Your Suncatcher Projects

Some stained glass artisans have been using fused glass in their suncatcher projects with varying degrees of success.

But since there are many forms of glass art, we might as well include fused glass as part of this discussion.

Fused glass is also called "warm glass", "kiln glass", or "kilnformed glass".  It is basically the melting of two or more pieces of glass together in a kiln to form unique color combinations and shapes.

Fused glass is commonly used to create unique bowls, plates, jewelry, tiles and sculptures however it has also been recently incorporated into stained glass windows, wall hangings. and suncatchers.  In the wall hanging below, the birds are fused glass and the window uses the copper foil technique.


The basic idea behind fused glass is to create art objects by melting glass in a kiln.  This simple idea is behind hundreds of techniques that are accessible to people around the world. 

Fused glass had been growing quickly in popularity and unlike stained glass, the finished projects have no lead lines.

Unlike dimensional foiled stained glass projects, fused glass can be created without having to cut, grind, foil, and assemble hundreds of smaller pieces.

Unlike leaning how to construct stained glass projects, the learning curve for fused glass is virtually non existent.

Anyone's garage can be converted into a fused glass studio and there are fewer physical demands on the artisan.  All you need to do is purchase a kiln, place the glass into the kiln and turn it on.  The basic techniques are as follows:
  • Fused Glass:
Simply place two or more pieces of glass in the kiln and heat until they fuse together into a single piece of glass.

  • Slumped or Draped Glass:
Place a piece of glass over a ceramic mold and heat it until it "slumps" into the shape of the mold.  The glass used is often fused glass with the design elements already "fused" into the design.

  • Cast Glass:
There are several variations of glass casting that include the lost wax method, pate de verre, etc. but the idea is for the glass to be melted enough to easily flow into a mold of some type.  All cast glass projects are thick, three dimensional objects.

All kiln formed glass is, as the name implies, created in a kiln specifically designed for this use.  Ceramic kilns can be used, but since they are not specifically designed for fusing glass, they do not produce consistent results.

Ceramic kilns and glass kilns differ in the placement of their heating elements and their operating temperature range.  Because of the demands made in fusing different types of glass together, almost all glass kilns have computerized controllers.

Incorporating fused glass into your suncatcher project is simply a matter of creating your fused glass design, foiling it in the usual manner, and soldering it into the stained glass project.

The possibilities for using fused glass in stained glass projects are endless and left to your
imagination.


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