Class: Fused Glass
My heart’s all aflutter for the sparkly, colorful meltiness of fused glass. I knew I was crushing about 30 minutes into the class when I felt my heart racing and I started feeling a bit giddy. This was somewhere among learning to cut the glass, hearing the delicate clinking sound of snapping it, feeling the danger of sharp edges, and seeing the abundance of color and the serendipitous potential of the fusing process. I didn’t even know glass was my “type” and now I’m considering an extended commitment to the medium.
Our instructor and glass artist, Amber, started us out with an introduction to different kinds of glass work. Fused glass involves firing the glass in a kiln at “warm” temperatures up to 1500 degrees F. Options in this range include slumping, draping, tack fusing, and full fusing. We also learned about a few distant cousins: cold working (like stained glass) and hot sculpting, flame working, or blown glass at temperatures above 2000 degrees F. In my mind, though, this 1000-1500 degree temp range is where it’s at — fused glass has just enough melt for a bit of a surprise!
For our first venture into fused glass we used swirly patterned Spectrum 96 glass. This was a chance to don our supersexy safety goggles and perfect our cutting and snapping skills. (If you’ve ever cut glass before, maybe you’ve experienced love at first snap.) Most of our class created baubles and belt buckles as we experimented with color blocking and using glass as a collage medium. I also ended up with a few kiln-fired worry stones which I’ve been using to reduce anxiety before my African drumming class.
Glass types are distinguished by their coefficient of expansion (COE) and using glass with different coefficients could cause a project to fracture as it cools. Therefore, you have to be careful about mixing incompatible glass types. Should you develop your own glass crush, be advised that in this case, opposites do not attract.
Our next projects got us into COE 90, scrap, stringers, dichroic, frit, and confetti glass. I focused on frit (small granulated glass), scrap, a bit of luminescent dichroic, and an abundance of unnecessary glue to make a small plate. The reveal came a bit later: seeing all of our finished plates in the kiln was melty, slumpy coolness.
The dilemma? I’m now dreaming about the possibilities for designing with glass and think I need a kiln to take my creative infatuation to the next level. (If I get more macaron-making practice, maybe I can have a bake sale to raise funds!) Meanwhile, I hope that you’ll take a class that surprises you or that you’re inspired to pursue a new hobby, amateur, or professional skill to discover your own crush. The crush-rush of learning something new = the ultimate brain fuel.