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Fused Glass Techniques

Updated February 21, 2017

Fused glass, also called warm glass or kiln-glass, is a type of decorative glass. Pieces of glass are fused together in a kiln to create a piece of art. Fused glass is created using one of two basic fusing methods---tack and full. Tack fusing refers to heating the pieces just enough that they stick together but otherwise remain as they were before. Full fusing is when the pieces of glass completely melt together.

Slumping

Slumping is a technique used for both fused and non-fused glass. It is the process of laying a piece or pieces of glass on a mould in the kiln and heating it. As the glass heats it will bend over or into the mould, depending on shape. Large pieces of fused glass could be made three-dimensional through slumping. Slump glass over a mould with a hole in the centre to create a vessel, for example. A mould in the shape of a wave could give added dimension to a sculptural piece intended for wall or tabletop display.

Casting

Casting glass refers to pouring melted glass into a mould to get a specific or detailed shape, which can be duplicated again and again. This is similar to how metal is cast. Cast pieces in mould, then tack fuse them to a larger glass base for bas relief art. Cast glass fish fused to a piece of colourful full-fused glass is one example. This example could even then be slumped for added dimension. Reverse the technique and full fuse several colourful pieces of glass for an original pattern, then cast a three-dimensional bookend or paperweight.

Inclusions

Incorporate inclusions, bits of different types of glass or metal, into a fused glass item to add depth and interest. Glass comes in more than sheets and rods, it also is available in frits and powders. Frit is glass broken up into pieces about the size of sea salt; powder is glass ground into a fine powder. Differences in the size, type and chemical make-up of the glass create different effects in the finished piece. Add metal powder, leafing or wire to glass. Add a wire hanger for to a fused-glass sun-catcher while it is in the kiln and you won't have to worry about adhesives. Metal powder and leaf have a wide variety of effects on glass depending on the type of metal used--generally copper, silver and gold--and how much is used. Experimentation is the key when adding inclusions.

Combing

Combing is a way to give texture and pattern to fused glass pieces. While the glass is still molten a special rake is drawn through it. Make a Missoni-like pattern by fusing several thin pieces of different colours of glass side by side and raking vertically through the glass before it hardens. Create swirls, flourishes and other accents with combing. Comb a piece of fused glass made from transparent or mostly transparent glass to change its texture and its effect on light.

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About the Author

K. D. Wicks is a communications professional with experience in writing, editing and design in academia, marketing, and print and digital media. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications, encompassing public relations, journalism, advertising and speech.