Friday, November 29, 2013

Working with Powders to Make Fused Glass Flower Plates

I mentioned that I'm working on using up my scrap glass.  Actually, anything less than a square foot is typically referred to as scrap, so the pieces can be either fairly large or small.  For me, I have a lot that are approximately the same size -- which is the result of making coaster sets.  As I just purchased a new box of bumpons, I figure that I've made over 175 coaster sets, which means a lot of excess scrap accumulated over time.  So, what I decided to do is to make flower plates.

To start, I gather my glass and cut a pattern of the a petal from a manila folder based on the size of the glass as well as the size of the mold that I plan to use.


As with cutting circles, the more excess you have between the size of the pattern and the total glass size, the cleaner the cut.  So, there's a balance between trying to use up as much of the glass as possible and the amount of extra work you want to do (e.g. using grosing pliers to pull off the excess and grinding the sides smooth).

Next I put down some paper to catch the powder and set up a little station to elevate the glass, which makes it easier to lift up the glass to transfer it to the kiln shelf.

After I'm done, I load the kiln and tack fuse to 1365 degrees.  And, I save the power to use in another project.  When the petals come out, I tack fuse the petals together and use the dots that I made earlier as the center.  I fire this to 1375 degrees but now because the entire piece is thicker, I need a longer annealing hold, which for this project was 2 hours.


  • If you're new to free form cutting, start with the larger size glass first, which makes for a cleaner break and less coldworking. You'll get better cutting the same pattern with practice, so cutting with less excess glass becomes easier.
  • Because the petals are symmetrical, I scored one half on one side and then flipped the glass to score the other half.  This allowed me to have nice score lines without crossing an existing score which can dull the cutter.
  • Wear latex gloves if you have them -- when I didn't, it still felt like I had powder on my hands no matter how much I washed them afterwards.
  • Wear a respirator - this is a must when dealing with powder.
  • Don't use hairspray to try to adhere the powder afterwards - it just clumps up and the truth is that you don't need it.
  • Do use hairspray to help the dots and petals stay in place as you transport the shelf to the kiln.
  • While I intended to make the flowers using the same colored petals, I found that I liked them better when there was a contrast between the top and bottom petals.
  • Take notes on how much powder you use -- for me, the right amount is 4 passes but it can vary based on how much powder you put on with each pass.
So far, I've made 16 of these, each with 14 petals, which means that I've used 224 pieces of scrap glass!  At the same time, I now have a bin with quite a bit of the excess glass from the sides.  So, I'm making progress but still have a way to go.

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