Making Fused Glass Jewelry in a Microwave Kiln

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About: Human who loves learning from others and sharing what she knows

It is amazing how a gift can change your life. I got a microwave kiln for Christmas and it has opened up a world of creating interesting pieces for my jewelry projects. It is easy and you will be amazed at what you can learn in a very short time. Ready for an adventure....Well here we go!!!

Step 1: What You Will Need...

Okay, before you log off and run screaming looking at this image, this is a conglomeration of things you could need for this project. Some of the items are need to haves. This Instrubctable is based on the small Fuseworks microwave kiln. We'll break it down as we go along. Don' t be afraid. Look at it as a delicious adventure through the glass.

Step 2: Safety First Kids....

Disclaimer... you are working with glass and very hot temperatures. Safety is a must. Protection for your eyes, lungs, and skin is of utmost importance. So, don't take shortcuts. Just don't !!!

  • Sturdy gloves will protect your hands when breaking the glass.
  • Heat Proof Gloves- They are for handling the kiln after firing and the final product upon removing the piece from the kiln.
  • Glass Pliers - For breaking glass.
  • Dust Mask - So you don't get glass in your mouth, nose and lungs
  • Safety Glasses - For breaking glass and use with the rotary tool to finish your project.
  • A Heat resistant surface - To sit the kiln on after the firing process. Being a cheapo, I went to the hardware store and bought a brick. It works just fine.

Step 3: What You Need for the Creation..

So if you choose to buy a kit from Amazon, (here's a link), you will get a great number of the items in your kit, some things you will choose to add as you go along.

https://www.amazon.com/Fuseworks-FW849-Beginners-M...

Another great resource for getting your supplies is Hobby Lobby go check them out at or stop by their store if there is one close by.

http://www.hobbylobby.com/Crafts-Hobbies/Glass-Cra...

Here is a shout out to our friends at fuseworks. They make some amazing items.

Now, back to our program. Some of the items you must have are:

  • THE KILN (obviously)
  • Kiln Paper
  • A glass cutter
  • Ummmm....glass COE90 is what is generally used for these projects. We will also address some of the different types of glass later.
  • A Straight Edge
  • A File
  • Glass Pliers

Some things you might want to add later

  • Different types of glass
  • Glass/Tile Nippers
  • Sandpaper
  • Rotary tool (such as a Dremel)

Step 4: The Kiln Paper...

Kiln paper should be laid on the bed of the kiln every time you use it. The fuseworks paper I use, I can get four firings from each sheet. Sheet are 5 5/8" X 5 5/8". Just cut it into quarters when you get a piece of paper out of the package.

I personally choose to trim the paper into a circular pattern close in size to the raised platform of the kiln. That gives me an idea of the area I have to work with.

Also, make sure that the glass doesn't touch the side of the kiln. It will stick and can damage your kiln.

This paper is a one hit wonder. Kiln paper can't be reused. One use and toss it.

Step 5: Cutting the Glass...

You are not going to cut completely through the glass, you are more scoring the glass. You are making a slight indention in the glass so that you will be able to see where the break will occur.

Take your straightedge and place it on the glass. Then you take the glass cutter and applying pressure, you go the length of the glass. This is will leave the score line as seen in the last photo.

This is the line that you will be breaking.

Here is a little something that might be helpful, you should hear the glass cutter going along the surface of the glass. If you don't hear it, you probably need to apply more pressure.

Step 6: Breaking the Glass...

I have used three different methods to break the glass. Two were quite effective, one not at all.

Method one..... Glass Pliers, they grasp the glass firmly without biting into it. Great, this is the best way.

Method two... Until I got glass pliers, I used the edge of my kitchen counter top. It worked well.

Method three.... Using regular household pliers. Don't, it will bite into the glass.

Upon choosing your method, just snap it quickly, just like ripping off a bandage, just do it.

Step 7: Placing Your Glass...

Once you have cut and broken the glass, it is time to build your creation. For this Instructable, I chose six different colors of glass. It is your project. It can be as many colors as you choose. Just play with it, have fun. Just enjoy the experience of creating.

Step 8: Placing It in the Kiln....

This is as simple as it gets. Place the kiln paper, place your design on top and put the lid on. Once again, make sure none of the glass is touching the bed or the sides of the kiln. It is not that I have done it or anything, let's just say I know now not to do this. Also, if you think something moved when you put the lid on, you can check it before you start firing. Once you start firing, don't remove the lid until the firing process is complete.

Just be aware that if you do remove the lid, you may have to realign the glass to get the effect you wanted.

Step 9: Time to Fire This Baby Up....

Once you put the kiln into the microwave, you will have to figure out the best time for your microwave. I have heard different times in different tutorials, by the way, check out youtube for some great ones.

My microwave is 900 watts. Depending on the type of glass I am fusing, it usually fires in about 5 minutes to 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

Check the wattage on your microwave. It will fire faster with a higher wattage.

Considering that seconds can matter. Being a dinosaur and having a dial microwave oven, I had to trade up. It does matter, so you can pick up a cheap one at the Walmart near you.

Step 10: You See the Glow Then You Know....

Once the kiln is up to temperature, the center hole in the top of the kiln will glow, that is when you will know that the firing is happening. It is then that you remove the kiln from the microwave.

Step 11: Glove Up....

BUT WAIT..... do not under any circumstance take hold of the kiln bare handed. Severe injury will most assuredly occur. If you are getting close to the firing to end, glove up. You will need to wear gloves when handling the kiln and the finished piece after it sets.

Note to the wise. Don't hold on to it for long, although these gloves make moving the kiln bearable. It can still damage the gloves if you hold it too long. Same with the fired piece that comes out of the kiln. When you move, move with intention. Move the kiln to the heat safe surface (remember my brick). The same applies to the finished piece. It is still very hot.

Step 12: And Now You Wait...

The piece needs to sit in the kiln for 30 minutes once it is removed from the microwave. This is to allow time for the glass to harden and fuse together. This can be a very noisy process, so if you hear something that sound terrible coming from inside the kiln, wait it out, don't lift the lid until the full 30 minutes expires. I usually go find something else to do. I am not patient. To some of us, 30 minutes seems like forever. If you do something else, your perception of time is altered and the time has passed before you know it.

Once you have removed the lid from the kiln and place the top of the kiln with the small hole down on a heat safe surface, it needs to cool, it has held enough heat to take a solid, breaking it down into a lava like puddle and allowed it to become a solid again so it needs to cool. Don't use it again until it is cool to the touch. Leave the base setting on the brick. It is fine where it is.

Step 13: So This Is Our Finished Product...

You saw these same pieces earlier in this Instructable. I actually made this piece simply for this project. There were some flaws, that is going to happen. Sometimes, it doesn't heat evenly and you can see it in the finished project. You have two choices here, learn to love the flaws or you can try to fire it again. Just remember to use new kiln paper and sometimes firing the piece again works well, sometimes it doesn't.

Step 14: Finishing the Piece...

Use your file, sand paper or rotary tool to smooth any rough edges left This will make you piece a smooth finished, nicely polished pendant. Remember to use safety glass and your particle mask.

Step 15: Making It Into a Piece of Jewelry....

You can make a pendant, a ring, a bracelet or a pair of earring. It is completely up to you. Make what you want, make what you love, just make.

E6000 works great for adhering the finished piece to the blank or finding that you choose.

Step 16: Some Terms You Might Here...

Frit, Bits and Piece or Confetti - These are just small pieces of glass that can be used in your piece. It is not the flat pieces you would typically use for the base of your piece.

Millefiori - Oxford dictionary defines this as "a kind of ornamental glass in which a number of glass rods of different sizes and colors are fused together and cut into sections that form various patterns, typically embedded in colorless transparent glass to make items such as paperweights." Now, translating that into plain speak, it is small, chunks of glass with different colors that have been fused together by the company that makes it to give you a really cool effect with not as much effort. It is pretty awesome stuff.

Dichoric glass- This means two colors. Some of the dichroics you buy may be iridescent in nature others may have a more metallic look. It is AMAZING for that BAM piece simply because it is reactive to light.

Stringers: This is small rods of a single color, that can be easily broke to add as a filler for you piece.

Nippers - Nippers are used for tile and glass. They can give you more of a cut than a straight cut from the glass cutter.

Glass Pliers - These can be purchased at some hardware stores or Hobby Lobby carries them.

Step 17: Some Finished Pieces and How They Came to Be....

The first one you see is a larger piece of dichroic glass. I added some dark colored stringers to give it some definition. This piece is smooth.

The second one, the center is millefiori, white shards I cut with nippers and the stem of the flower, well that is a stringer. This piece also has a smooth finish.

The third one, a friend has dubbed the Sushi necklace, it has a black base and it is textured due to a shorter firing time.

The final piece, is red frit with a single piece of white frit in the center. The leaves were cut with nippers. This piece is also textured.

Hope you enjoyed the journey. Hope you learned something. Hope you try it. Just remember to relax and have fun with it. It is just glass, lava and glass again.

Step 18: Once Last Thing Before I Go....

Those pieces that do turn out so perfectly, those can be pretty freakin' cool as well, just place them in front of an LED light and watch them light up, then judge them.

NOW...Go have fun, but be safe.

Peace and Love.

Glass Challenge 2017

Runner Up in the
Glass Challenge 2017

2 People Made This Project!

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32 Discussions

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photon1165

Question 6 months ago

I have been doing stained glass for a while. I have lots of scraps and small pieces. Can I use them in a microwave kiln?

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majomajo

Question 8 months ago on Introduction

I have a large microwave kiln and bought a new microwave (1050 watts) that is very compact. The room inside the microwave is a little bigger than the kiln, it's like a 2" free space each side. Is that a problem?

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sherry.clodfelter.39majomajo

Reply 4 months ago

It shouldn't be a problem. You may have to adjust your firing time for the wattage on your microwave.

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DannyGlassman

1 year ago

Excellent instructions. I've been working in glass for over 45 years and have always wanted to buy or build a furnace. Not now I will use my old Amana MW.

Did you use a turn table for uniformity of the waves? I'm assuming you put the MW on HIgh. Is there a problem with leaving the kiln in the MW to cool?
Fusing not unlike melting is a time temperature thing. Have you tried a lower soak temperature setting then pumping up the power?

Different color glasses have different amounts of minerals such as iron. These will absorb energy at different rates. When bending different color glass or thicknesses we do a "Slump" test to insure the glass has similar bending characteristics.

There is another type of score running plier that uses a fulcrum to apply pressure equally to both sides of the cut. They can be pricey.

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ClaudiaS39DannyGlassman

Reply 1 year ago

Danny, what about mixing materials like glass and brick, or glass and sand, or glass and stone, would that work or explode?

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DannyGlassmanClaudiaS39

Reply 1 year ago

ClaudiaS39,
All of those materials have a form and percentage of silica in them. They have binders in them that holds everything together. They have not been fired at the higher temperatures and would probably look like black bits of debris. When we make glass we have a very special recipe for the batch. All of the materials are weighed out precisely. They include materials that help to reduce the melting temperature and fluxes that help to purify the melt. After the melting is completed we skim or dam the top of the batch so we do not allow floating debris to go into the refiner. We also stir the molten glass to make it more homogeneous. Once the glass enters the refiner we let it "age" as long as possible to let any bubbles work them selves up and out. We then use a set of "tweels" or ceramic dams to hold the glass back in the refiner. We open the dam just a little bit so that it will flow over a ceramic lip and into the tin bath. That will be another message.

You do not need to worry about exploding unless the materials have trapped moisture that cannot escape. Place your materials, after pulverizing them, in your 250 F oven on a old clean glass plate to dry them out first.

If you are interested I can send you some stuff on glass floats and tin baths.

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Charles HortonDannyGlassman

Reply 1 year ago

Hi Danny

I have a history in lamp working borosilicate glass, and some lab apparatas pieces on lathes. This is very interesting do to the cost factor of buying a kiln and using a MW. I have sense sold everything except my torches. My question for you is do you think a MW will work with clay and glazing? Thank you for the info on drying things out before use with glass. I also assume this is soft and stained glass not borosilicate. Can you send me info on glass floats and tin baths aswell. Thank you, and you too Sherry for sharing this.

DannyGlassman, You are a fountain of information. Thank you so much for sharing it with the rest of us who are just beginning.

DannyGlassman, I am totally at the other end of the spectrum. I am just beginning. I actually purchased a 900 watt microwave with a turn table because my old on didn't have one. Everything I have seen, tutorial wise, says to remove it from the microwave. Yes, I set it on high and let it do what it does. Funny that you compared it to melting. I have to correct myself constantly, trying to get out the cooking frame of mind to the glass "artist" state of mind. I would be curious to learn more about bending glass and I will most certainly check on the pliers you are talking about. Thanks so much for your comments.

There are 4 ways to work with glass:

1) fusing - this can vary from objects that keep their own form but attach to each other up to being melted into each other

2) slumping - the glass is supported at the edges 'slumps' down into shape.

3) sagging - the glass is supported in the center and sags around the edge.

4) casting - glass is melted completely into a mold.

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Zaacharia

1 year ago

The ball at the other end of the glass cutter can be used to help in the cutting process - tap the underside of the glass along the score, you can hear when the glass begins to 'break' (hard to explain how the glass sounds but you can also see the crack in the glass) continue to tap along score and the piece will fall apart. I will admit to being a glass whisperer so your mileage may very. the cutter wheel needs to be lubricated and cleaned; buy the self-lubricating kind if you can afford it; clean the cutter wheel often.

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osiixy

1 year ago

Sweet Holy Jesus!!!
I have never heard about such a technic,
and the most weird part is that my mother
wandered about such thing in the morning
but I said:
"don't be silly it is not fit to the physics
of a microwave oven".

What a sweet shame, it is worth it.

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Zaachariaosiixy

Reply 1 year ago

The key is that the dome of the kiln contains magnetite (or an equivalent) that is agitated by the microwaves converting the waves to heat - the insulation is really, really good.

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sherry.clodfelter.39osiixy

Reply 1 year ago

Sorry I had to laugh at your opening. I agree with jooly4, a hug and kiss for your mom is a good idea. If you have never tried it, it is great fun!!!

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jooly4osiixy

Reply 1 year ago

You gave your mum a hug, right? ;-)

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osiixyjooly4

Reply 1 year ago

and a kiss onto her forehead

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jooly4osiixy

Reply 1 year ago

You turned out well, grasshopper. ;-)