I have been wanting to add some glass work instructables for quite a long time. Main reason I haven't is that when I am working in my shop, I tend to get very involved in what I am doing, and forget to take photos. That and some of the steps probably would benefit from video and I can't do that and do that work at the same time. But maybe this is a start, and I can add more from here.
For those of you who don't have a kiln, or access to one, there are "microwave kilns" on the market. For this instructable I am actually using some of the products designed for "microwave kilns". I had never actually used one, or seen anything that came from one, but if you really would like to work in warm glass, it would definitely be a less expensive start up than investing in a full kiln.
Also note, I am using an Olympic Kiln that is designed specifically of glass. Although some people, including myself, mix clay work and glass work in the same kiln, this is not a good practice unless the kiln is designed for it. Bits of materials can cross over and contaminate the glass work, or cause the glass to explode from air bubbles. I would recommend using a kiln that is not used for clay when working with warm glass.
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Step 1: What You Will Need....
Glass (if this is your first time fusing you would be best using COe 90 or 96 glass, not float glass *see below)
Metal inclusions (if desired
Copper or stainless steel wire
Kiln (or Microwave Kiln Insert- available at some hobby stores and online) **
PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR- Tiny shard of glass can pop off when scoring glass, or can get on your hands an inadvertently into your eyes, so be careful and protect yourself, please!
I keep two separate glass areas. One for the stained glass work I do, and another for the warm glass work.
I even have subdivisions in the warm glass area, since every glass has a different make up causing it to melt and fuse differently. Most of the my work is done with a Coe 96 glass. The "microwave kiln" products I have seen use a Coe 90. The main difference in the 90 and 96 is the melting temperature and the temperature it takes to reach a fluid viscosity. If you attempt to fuse these two glasses together you can see in the photo what you will get.
I also used float glass. It is called this because it is formed by floating the glass on liquid aluminum to form the sheet. Float glass is what is in your everyday glass windows, picture frame glass, and most of the glass you see in everyday life.
Float glass can be difficult to use because it has a right side and a wrong side to use, and you can't tell which is which by looking. The side that was touching the aluminum has picked up a scant amount on the surface. If you have this glass touching top side to bottom side it will not fuse properly. If you notice I mark one side of my glass, even after cutting, with UP. This way I can keep them together properly to fuse.
There is a LOT more information regarding glass and its characteristics and how it reacts to heat, and how to use it in decorative applications, but there is far more than I would want to put in this instructable or you would probably want to read right now.
So let's go on to cutting some glass!!!
Pick your glass, making sure it is compatible. The aqua and amber colored glass shows here is COe96, and will be used together. The clear pieces and the dichroic pieces are COe90 and will be used with same type glass.
You are not actually cutting glass when you are using this process. You will be scoring the glass, which is actually a controlled scratch with a diamond blade.
You will then "run" the score, which is putting equal pressure on the score so that the glass breaks along the scratch.
You will need a good glass blade. You will want to invest in a good glass scorer if you plan on using it a lot, but if you only want to do the occasional craft project one from a hobby store or the lumber yard is fine.
Use a flat, stable surface, cut the glass to the size you want your pendant to be. There will be a tiny bit of "spread" from the glass melting, but it will not be much. So measure the area to cut according to the finished size you want it to be.
With firm steady pressure, score the glass along the line you have marked. The sooner you "run" the score after doing this, the easier and cleaner the break will be . This is because scoring the glass created heat with the friction. If the score is allowed to get cold, it may not run at all and you will end up with just a broken piece of glass.
Take a pair of running pliers and place the glass between them with the score located directly in the center. These pliers have two different sides, you want the curved side upward to it is pushing the glass as though bending it over the other side. This should cause the glass to break along the score line in a nice straight piece.
Cut several pieces that are the size you want your pendant to be. You can use tile nippers to cut small pieces off to be used as decorative elements.
Step 3: Get the Kiln Ready
Make sure you have primed your kiln shelf completely, or use shelf paper if you prefer.
Since kilns can use a lot of energy, I try to only run mine when it is completely full. Since different pieces require different programs, that means I might have to wait until I have enough of one certain type of piece to make the run.
I will be adding more than one pendant to this run to save on energy usage, but I will also be running some tile that are not for jewelry making.
Notice the knob in the bottom of the photo, the one sticking out into the kiln? This is the thermistor. make sure you have no objects near or touching this as it controls the temperature readings in the kiln.
Step 4: Pendant #1- Dragonfly Flying About...
For this pendant:
2 pieces of same sized and same COe glass to make a front and a back.
2-3 inches small gauge copper wire
hammer to flatter the curved wire
We are going to "wedge" a small brass butterfly and some copper tubing between these layers.
Twist the copper to emulate motion from the dragon fly. You can do this in one or more pieces, but do not use so much that the percentage of wire is more than 25% of the glass.
One of the pieces of wire needs to be curled so that it comes out the top of the pendant. This will be used for the bail.
if the copper wire seems to be making the top piece stick up and be unsteady over the second piece, take a hammer and on a hard surface pound it down as flat as possible.
Top the wire and dragon fly with the second piece of glass.
Before placing the pedant into the kiln, disassemble it and clean it well with some sort of glass cleaner (I use alcohol because it dries quickly). Even fingerprints will be permanently left on the glass if you do not clean it off.
Carefully place it in the kiln and make another piece.
Step 5: Dragonfly With a Message
For this pendant:
2 pieces of COe 90 glass in amber
Small Brass dragonfly
Fuseworks slide off decals (these are designed for microwave kilns but will work in all kilns)
Wire twisted to make a bale
Cut out the desired decals (I chose the words dream and a red flower).
Soak the decal in water for about 30 seconds. It will now slide off just like a temporary tattoo.
Clean the bottom glass piece and handle it so as not to leave fingerprints. Place the decal where you desire on the bottom piece of glass. It can be moved around some while it is still wet, but be careful not to tear it. Press out any air bubble and blot it dry.
Place the brass dragonfly on the bottom piece of glass as well as the wire to make the bale, making sure a loop extends beyond the glass edge to be accessible for a jump ring.
Clean the glass as well as possible, without disturbing the decals you have placed.
Place the pendant in the kiln, making sure your pieces are lined up as desired.
Step 6: Dichroic Glass Pendant
You will need
2 pendant sized piece of glass (I used one amber and one clear)
Dichroic glass pieces that are the same COe as the outer glass pieces.
Small piece of wire to use as the bale
*Remember what I said about forgetting to take pictures? Well this was one of those times. Actually, I hadn't planned on putting more than the one pendant in the instructable, but it happened. I was trying to get the most use from the kiln run as possible, and I know I will always use a pendant if I make it.
Hopefully you can tell from the previous photos what to do for this one. The difference is I used small rectangular pieces of dichroic glass in between the two outer layers. This can also be done without a top layer.
Carefully place it in the kiln after cleaning and reassembling.
Step 7: Fire Away!
NOTE: Please allow proper annealing time. Heating glass too fast and cooling glass too fast will crack, break and destroy your work. I include a partial annealing in my firing schedule because I know my own impatients.
This schedule general takes me about 9 1/2 hours in70 degree F weather,
If you found this instructable useful, interesting, or even if you didn't, please give me a rating and leave a comment! I want to be able to do better and your comments will help!