Glass fusing is a technique used to join glass pieces together by partly melting the glass at high temperature. The heating is usually undertaken in an electric kiln.
But, in this instructables, you would learn to fuse glass in a microwave kiln at your home and make a beautiful abstract design glass pendant.
So, to get started, gather the tools and materials as stated in the step 1 and if you like my instructable, then please remember to vote it in the Jewelry Making Contest.
Step 1: Tools and Materials You Will Need
2. A Pair of Safety Glasses
3. Glass Cutter
4. Running Pliers - http://goo.gl/eLLJpQ
5. Heat Resistant Gloves
6. Microwave Kiln - http://goo.gl/ZSsvYW
7. Kiln Shelf Paper - http://goo.gl/NJsu3x
8. Microwave Oven
9. Super Glue
10. Pendant Bails - http://goo.gl/DYtS7a
11. Necklace cord/ Metal chain - http://goo.gl/DYtS7a
Note: This project requires you to work with glass sheets and pieces. Therefore, it is advised to wear a pair of safety glasses and latex gloves while working. This will protect your eyes and fingers from small and sharp glass pieces getting pricked while cutting or breaking the glass sheets.
Step 2: Choose the Right Glass
In this project, I have used pieces of fusible glass which were scrapped from my earlier projects. If you wish, you can also cut/break the glass sheet in abstract shapes or form to make an abstract design pendant.
I prefer using COE-90 (coefficient of expansion) fusible glass in all my fused glass projects as it has a wide variety of colors to choose from and is easy to find in my region. You may also consider using COE-96 or COE-104 depending upon its availability in your local market. But whichever type of glass you may choose, make sure not to mix them while fusing since they are not compatible with each other.
Fusing glass with different coefficient of expansion may develop cracks during the cooling process if not later.
Step 3: Design Your Pendant
After you decide which type of glass you would use, choose the colors you would love to have in your pendant and then pick some big and some small sized pieces. Once you have selected them, start arranging the pieces to form an abstract design.
Tip: Glass pieces should overlap on each other.
Stack them up in layers as shown in the images to achieve a beautiful pattern.
Once you are happy with the form and design of your pendant, arrange it on the kiln base. Make use of the thin kiln shelf paper to avoid sticking of glass to the kiln base during the fusing process.
Tip: Use thin kiln shelf paper to render smooth edges on the fused glass piece during fusing process. Using thick shelf paper leaves rough/sharp edges.
See the attached photo of a fused glass piece done on thick kiln shelf paper which turned out be pointy.
Step 4: Fuse Glass
Now its time to fuse the glass layers to form a beautiful art piece.
Place the kiln base on the microwave glass plate carefully so that the arrangement of your pendant is not disturbed and then cover it with the microwave kiln cover.
Microwave Settings and Fusing Time:
Set the microwave on highest power level (usually 10 is maximum power level) and timer to 5 minutes. If you have approx. 1500 watts microwave as I do, then 5 minutes will do the job. If you have lower wattage microwave oven, then increase the time by 1 minute.
There is no fixed firing schedule for microwave kiln and it all depends upon the microwave's power capacity and the size of the glass pieces and number of layers you want to fuse together.
Time is the key factor in fusing glass in such microwave kilns since that is the only way to control the kiln temperature.
Tip: I often increase the time by few seconds to obtain a desired shape.
During the Fusing Process:
Once the fusing process begins, the temperature inside of the kiln quickly rises and you would notice a bright red glow from the top of the kiln (from kiln's peep hole). This means that now the glass pieces have become soft and fusing with each other.
Note: During the first two or three minutes of fusing, the kiln shelf paper burns out releasing the smoke. This is normal, so do not worry. Make sure you have turned on the microwave's exhaust fan.
Once the fusing is complete, open the microwave lid and peek through the kiln by slightly lifting up the cover. If you are happy with the shape of the fused piece, then take the kiln out. Otherwise, continue the process for few more seconds up-to a minute depending upon how you want it to be.
Note: Remember to wear heat resistant gloves while handling the hot kiln as the inner temperature of the kiln can go high up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit (850 degrees Celsius) and cause serious injuries if not handled carefully.
After the Fusing Process:
Place the kiln on a heat resistant platform/surface in a well ventilated area and allow it to cool down to room temperature. This may take up-to an hour, so be patient and do not remove the kiln cover while it is cooling down.
Glass is a fragile material and needs slow cooling (Annealing) to relieve internal stresses after it was heated. Glass which has not been annealed is liable to crack or shatter when subjected to a relatively small mechanical shock.
Step 5: Make a Pendant
Once the kiln cools down to the room temperature, it is safe to remove the fused glass piece. You would notice that the kiln shelf paper is stuck onto the glass which can be easily removed by rinsing it in the tap water.
Glue Pendant Bail:
Glue the pendant bail to the glass piece using super glue that is available in your house. I have used Alteco brand super glue in this project. But, I would recommend E6000 industrial strength adhesive to glue the jewelry items as it safe to use and gives sufficient time to adjust the bail before it becomes hard unlike the super glue.
Allow the super glue to set for a few minutes and your beautiful abstract design fused glass pendant is ready.
If you like this instructables, please vote for it in the Jewelry Making Contest.