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The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Glass Fusion I: Introduction

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Work Room chat:
You may want to visit here to get a rough idea how the entire layering/stacking of glass pieces process is like.

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" Referred to as "warm glass," glass fusion is one of the oldest forms of glass making.

Instead of blowing the glass, torches and kilns are used to make the glass molten. Each piece begins with hand cut, broken, pulled, and ground pieces of glass and other objects.

These pieces of glass and objects are then designed in a layered manner on the kiln shelf. Through a series of firings (at temperatures ranging from 1,200-1,500 degrees) a new piece of glass is formed and finally coaxed into its ultimate shape. "
Source: Maxfield Glass

Yes! I finally got the opportunity to try my hands on glass fusing in Funky Pots studio (the old one at the City, not West Bridgford). :D




Alright, I didn't make those. It was samples made by Uncle Ghee and his wife.


I went into the studio last Sunday, completely clueless as to what glass fusing is all about other Sa Kor (she actually attended a workshop on it) and Uncle Ghee telling me that it's very easy only. Easy or not, but I think that when you are completely clueless about something you don't exactly have a conviction about it.

Anyway, I was there around noon already but Uncle Ghee still has some work to finish up first. So, I waited around for a while before he finally bring out a box.....





And inside the box was loads of goodies.... :D

Glass noodles
See how they look like noodle strand? Erm, like fettucini perhaps? :P


Glass noodles anyone? Pun intended. Heheh... :P


Glass rods
I wonder if these are the ones that lampwork artists use as well?


Glass pieces



Glass frit




Glass bits



The glass available for use that day were only those ordinary types. Some of you might have heard about dichroic glass. Dichroic glass is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic optical properties. Dichroic glass was originally developed by NASA and its contractors for use in satellite optics and spacesuit visors.





A pendant made from dichroic glass.
Source: Wikipedia






The very first thing I was taught about glass fusion was about the COE.





Simply put, COE stands for Coefficient of Expansion; which refers to the rate that glass expand and contract. The rule is that only glass of the same COE can be fused together. Otherwise, the fusion will crack. Even if it doesn't crack immediately, it is bound to crack over time.

The fused glass will always assume a thickness of ¼ inch or approximately 6mm. Despite the varying layers of glass being fused together, it will eventuslly assume a 6mm thick glass piece. If you are trying to heat just one layer of glass, it has a tendency to pull in to obtain this ¼ inch thickness. Two or more layers will flow out and assume the ¼ inch thickness, which is about the size of two layers of glass.

There are different techniques when it comes to fusing glass. Just to name a few....

Firing in the lower range is what is called 'slumping'; a technique commonly used to create bowls and such.


I guess it's like how you slump the glass to create a hollow? *shrugs*


Firing the glass at a higher range creates a 'full fuse' whereas firing in the middle range is considered 'tack fusing'. The difference between the two form of fusing is this.





Alright, the orange piece at the front is tack fusing whereas the black piece at the back is full fuse. Tack fusing is is when two or more pieces of glass are heated until the pieces start to melt together. Each piece will maintain its original shape and texture. So, as you can see from the picture, they almost appear to be just glued together.

A full fuse on the other hand, is when two or more pieces of glass are heated until the pieces melt together to form one solid piece of glass, like the one in black.

One thing that you would want to take note is that each piece of glass is reusable. So, basically, there's no wastage when it comes to glass fusing.


No wonder Uncle Ghee still kept these bits and pieces of glasses....




And that was all the briefing I got. The next thing Uncle Ghee told me was "Ok la, now go do whatever you want."

I was ???!!!

What do you mean go do whatever I want? o_O

"Well.....", he says. "Go and cut pieces of glass and stack and layer them in the design that you want."

I was like -_____- .

I was seriously still clueless........

"Ouh...." and then he says, "I'll show you how to cut glass"

He then took out a glass cutter.


This glass cutter cost some £20 by the way. @_@! I was told there are cheaper ones too but they are not that effective. Erm, something like how one might prefer stainless steel pliers over the economy ones I think.....


And also, handed me a safety goggles.


You wouldn't want to get splinter of glass into your eyes, now would you?


The glass cutting part is easy. Basically, what you do is to make a line on the glass with the glass cutter.






Then, grip the glass piece with a plier.....






And press the pliers gently.




There......



One tip as you are working on the design. You might want to use glue to secure your designs to avoid them moving. They do have special glass glue but it's not really necessary. Ordinary PVA glue would also do just fine. The glue will eventually be burnt off during the firing process and would not affect the glass composition or content.




"Okay", says Uncle Ghee. "You may begin."

Huuuuuhhh???

How?

"Just layer the glasses in whatever design you want."

Errr...... wokay.

I was seriously just clueless.

But since I was told to play around in his studio. I think I'll just do that. :P



I'm really lousy at taking self portraits. I think I need more practice. Either that or get someone to take the picture for me. LOL.... XD



I'll post what I actually came up with that day in the next entry. I'm kinda tired to continue already. Heheh.....





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5 hollers:

corra said...

LOL this is funny, and I like Uncle Ghee already!

Wendy Sue said...

Heheh.... that's my Uncle Ghee for you la.... :P

Shuku said...

I've been following your blog on and off and found it absolutely fascinating! I miss glass - I used to do a bit of it when I was in uni overseas and it was such gorgeous stuff to work with...

I just realised I awarded you a duplicate award for the Malaysian Creative Blogger:

http://shukuen.blogspot.com/2009/05/monday-surprise.html

but you deserve it I think! Your work is beautiful. Can't wait to see more of it. :)

--Shuku

Wendy Sue said...

Hey Shuku,

Thanks a bunch! Heheh..... :)

Frances said...

They are actually fascinating... imagine making many pieces and wire them up into pendants. Wow! Endless choices!

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