Thursday, April 28, 2011

New for Spring: Millefiori Fused Glass Pendants

The first fused glass pieces I purchased were years ago on my vacation to Venice. Of course, the dishes contained millefiori (which means a thousand flowers), something that one might associate with Murano glass. So, when I think of millefiori, I have fond memories of Venice (one of my favorite places) and wanted to capture that in my fused glass.

Millefiori isn't typically used much in glass fusing. First, it has a different COE or coefficient of expansion. This means that it cannot be combined with the typical fusing glasses (90 or 96 COE) as glass with different COEs expand at different rates when heated and is more likely to break. Recently manufacturers have made millefiori that works with the standard fusing glass but the color and design selection is rather limited. So, because I wanted the variety I decided to try making millefiori jewelry all with the glass coming from Italy.

When making the pendants, I decided to fuse the glass as a small panel that I would later cut up with my tile saw. I contained or dammed the panel using 2 sheets of fiber paper so that I would be less likely to lose the edges as the glass spreads out. Placing the millefiori into the panel was a little time consuming as each piece is placed individually.

But, the time and effort were worth it. I was very happy with how panel turned out. Next, I trimmed off the edges and refired. While I meant to fire polish the pendants because of the different COE, the pendants ended up fired more like a full fuse rather than a fire polish. This is because I used the temperature that I normally would without considering that these pendants were made from a different COE. After grinding all the edges, sandblasting and two tests later, I finally got the right temperature. And, here's how they turned out (before I attached the bails).

Lessons Learned:
  • When working with a different COE, testing is important unless you want to spend time coldworking the glass. To be honest, while I though the 2 layers of fiber paper would work, I didn't know that it would. I probably should have started with one panel and tested it. And, I should have tested one pendant with the fire polish rather than fire a whole shelf loaded with pendants.
  • Colors of the glass can change with firing, especially with the glass rods I used. The back side looks a little different than the front. Fortunately, a clear cap kept the rod colors in tack.
  • More consistent, smaller patterns work, especially when the glass is cut up as you don't see as much of the larger, entire pattern. Also, I found that I prefer at least 4 different millefiori patterns to make the design interesting.
  • Tiny millefiori expand with each firing, especially when taken to a full fuse.
I'm excited about these new pendants and am in the process of making the next batch in blues and greens keeping the above lessons in mind. Let me know what you think of these.


  1. Hi! Well done on a great post and I love your jewellery, very finely detailed. I've seen some real crap millefiori around and yours will definitely be viable in business for years to come. I've written my own post about millefiori at:

    Cheers Suz x

  2. These are beautiful, and I love the fact that you are reminded of Venice when you make them. I haven't been able to get back into doing fusing yet as I don't have any room to work or set up a kiln, but I've been sketching ideas, some of which are related to my travels.

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