Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Fused Glass Art Panels are Made

I've been making fused glass art panels for a while. Part of the process has been trial and error but I am finally happy with the design and firing schedule. Each panel contains as its center a unique piece of glass that is created from an aperture pour or "pot melt" with both transparent and opaque glass surrounding it as the frame.

Aperture pours are a great way not only to use up excess glass but create a truly stunning one-of-kind glass pattern. The final pattern is a result of how the glass is stacked (horizontal or vertical), colors used, the height from which the glass drops onto the shelf, and the size, shape and number of holes in the pot. Each glass artist has his or her preference. For me, I've tried a variety of combinations and prefer to have the glass flat, the pot about 2" above the shelf and many holes in the pot. I tend to layer in the following order: colored opaques, white, colored transparent, clear. It's helpful to do a number of these and take good notes, so you know what works for you.

I buy predrilled pots that are wide and shallow (because my kiln isn't very deep) but any store bought clay pot can be used. I line the shelf with 1/8" fiber paper and use a stainless steel ring as a containment dam for the glass (this is also lined with fiber paper). Note: it's best to have one pot for each color as some glass will remain in the pot after it's done as pots are not kilnwashed.

Note: for a detailed firing schedule, see Steve Immerman's site

My firing schedule heats the glass to 1625 degrees, enough to melt the glass so it drips through the holes. An hour hold at 1500 allows any bubbles to surface as well as evens out the glass.

Next, I measure and cut the glass with my tile saw and then build a glass frame around it. The panel is fired design side down to create a tight design. Then, the edges are coldworked or ground to make even and the panel is flipped over so the design is facing up and fired again. The final result is below:

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