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Glass Fusing

3 Types of Glass Art Techniques you Need to Know

Glass is an amazingly versatile art material that can be formed and shaped in many different ways. It has the artistic quality of being able to bend and reflect light in a very unique manner. Its versatility has thus resulted in different types of glass art techniques.

There are primarily three categories of glass art techniques. Artists use them according to their needs and the purpose of glass art. These handmade glass art techniques are:

  1. Hot Glass Technique
  2. Warm Glass Technique
  3. Cold Glass Technique

There are various methods used to create glass art within these methods. In this guide, we’ll explain each glass art technique in detail.

1. Hot Glass 

Hot glass is a technique that includes working with molten glass at high temperatures using glass casting molds. Here is how it works:

  1. Place pieces of glass in a furnace
  2. Heat the furnace to approximately 2000oF
  3. The process makes the glass malleable   
  4. Collect the molten glass from the furnace
  5. Use this hot viscous glass in glass sculpting, blowing, and casting into molds

Hot glass is used to create various glass art items such as:

  • Bowls
  • Vases
  • Sculptures
  • Goblets
  • Containers 
  • Ornaments

and more.

Types of Hot Glass Techniques

Hot Glass Blowing

It is the art of creating glass sculptures by shaping hot molten glass. Here is how you do it:

  1. Collect the molten glass by inserting the tip of a blowpipe into the furnace
  2. Roll the pipe until a gob of glass attaches to it
  3. Roll the gob on a flat metal slab
  4. Create a sort of bubble of glass by blowing from the other end of the pipe
  5. Constantly blow and roll the pipe to get the desired shape
  6. Remove the glass from the glass pipe with the help of steel tweezers

Hot Glass Casting

It is a process of casting glass art by placing hot molten glass into a casting mold. The temperature of the glass is slowly brought down to room temperature. There are 3 types of hot glass casting. Here we explain how to cast hot glass.

 Sand Casting

  1. Carve the required design into the treated sand to form a mold
  2. Pour the hot molten glass into the sand mold
  3. Wait for the glass to cool down
  4. Once the glass is solidified, remove the sand 
  5. Reveal a perfect solidified casting

Ideal for creating multiple glass art with rough-textured granular surfaces. 

Open-Faced Molding

  1. Make a clay mold
  2. Pour plaster around a clay pattern 
  3. Let it set
  4. Remove the clay
  5. Dry the plaster mold in the oven
  6. Fill the mold with glass
  7. Cast it in a glass kiln

Ideal for casting glass art where one side is flat—coasters, glass tile, etc.

Lost Wax Casting

  1. Build a mold around sacrificial wax
  2. Melt out the wax to form a cavity
  3. Pour molten glass into the cavity
  4. Let it cool
  5. Remove the mold
  6. Get the final glass piece

Ideal for creating highly detailed glass art.

2. Warm Glass 

Warm glass is a technique to create glass art at a temperature of 1200-1600oF. Instead of the glass furnace, the warm glass technique usually involves a kiln/oven. Common terms often used for warm glass are:

  • Kiln-Cast Glass
  • Kiln Glass
  • Fused Glass
  • Slumped Glass
  • Glass Bending
  • Bent Glass

and more.

Warm glass is used to create various glass art items such as:

  • Sheets
  • Tiles
  • Plates

and more.

Types of Warm Glass Techniques

Slumping 

It is a technique of heating flat sheet/plate glass to give it the desired shape of the surface below. Here is how you do it:

  1. Design a mold
  2. Lay a glass sheet or plate over the mold
  3. Put it in a kiln
  4. Fire it up to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit
  5. The glass melts down due to the heat
  6. The gravity pulls the glass down into the mold
  7. Wait for the glass to cool down
  8. Remove the mold
  9. Get final glass art piece 

Ideal for creating larger, functional glass pieces—bowls, dishes, plates, ashtrays, etc.

Fusing 

It is a process of heating two or more pre-cut pieces of glass to melt together. It allows you to create dynamic, colorful pieces of unique glass art. Here is how it’s done:

  1. Prepare your kiln 
  2. Cut the glass into desired shapes
  3. Make sure the glass is clean 
  4. Assemble the glass into the kiln
  5. Fire the kiln to a suitable temperature 
  6. Check to see that the glass is completely cool
  7. Remove your glass piece, and it’s done

Stand back and admire your fused glass.

Ideal for creating glass tiles, notably beads, jewelry, etc.

3. Cold Glass

The cold glass category includes all kinds of glass art techniques that don’t involve high temperatures. It helps cold glass artists to work on glass art without heating the glass. This type of glass working is usually performed in combination with hot and warm glass.

Types of Cold Glass Techniques

Etching

It involves applying a strong acid such as hydrofluoric acid, to the surface of the glass. It helps you change the texture & appearance of the glass. Ideal for getting a translucent matte finish. 

Engraving

It is a process of inscribing onto the glass surface. There are 3 types of engraving methods:

  • Tool Engraving
  • Rotary Engraving
  • Laser Engraving

Sandblasting

Involves blasting with gritty material against the surface of the glass. Sandblasting offers the same effect as acid etching. Some of the most common grit materials are:

  • Aluminum Oxide 
  • Silica Carbide 
  • Quartz Sand
  • Steel Grit 
  • Soda 
  • Glass Bead 

Important Note: Use dichroic powder to fill sandblasted patterns.

Grinding

Grinding helps you achieve a certain shape. You can grind excess glass on your glass pieces with the help of grinding tools such as:

  • Abrasive Stone Burrs
  • Diamond Hand Pads 
  • Diamond Files
  • Diamond Burrs

et cetera.

Polishing 

Glass polishing eliminates defects—scratches, pitting, etc.—that have formed on the glass. It helps you restore the original brightness and transparency of the glass. Some of the most common polishing tools are:

  • Microfiber Dishcloth
  • Electric Polisher
  • Velcro Discs (ranging from 150 to 1000 grains)

*Important Note: Before using any technique (especially hot & warm), make sure to follow all the safety procedures. It is highly risky to work with such high temperatures. Without the proper knowledge, do not operate glass machines/tools—glass kiln, grinding tools, engraving tools, etc.

Conclusion

With so many choices available for glass art, you can choose the one that meets your needs. Now you know what hot, cold, & warm glass techniques are. We hope this guide will help you to better understand glass art techniques.

Categories
Glass Fusing

How to Prepare for Glass Fusing?- A Complete Fusing Guide

Fusing glass offers a number of possibilities to create both functional & aesthetic pieces of art glasswork. The art of fusing can be used to create jewelry, sculptures, dishware, and more.

Despite the complex appearance, fusing is quite simple. You can learn how to blend many pieces of glass into a stunning art piece with the right tools and practice.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of fusing. We’ll explain in detail how to prepare for your fusing projects.

What Is Fusing?

Fusing is the process of blending two or more pieces of compatible glass together. It allows you to manipulate the glass in a variety of ways. It involves heating the pieces of glass that need to be fused in a kiln—olympic kiln, glass kiln, and more at a particular temperature.

After these reach a particular soft point, all pieces fuse together to form a single piece of glass. You can create colorful, dynamic, and unique works of glass art.

Select the Same Coefficient of Expansion (COE)

The key component of a successful fusing is selecting the right glass with the same COE. Different kinds of glass with different COE have a distinct rate at which these expand and contract. 

If you fuse multiple pieces of glass with different COE, the final product will crack during cooling. You can use different types of glass—frit, rod, powder, and stringer—with the same COE.

Pro Tip: To check the fusing compatibility of two different glass types, do a test fuse with small pieces first. If these crack during any stage of fusing, avoid using these together.

Thoroughly Clean the Glass Pieces

For a flawless end product, you need to make sure your glass pieces are cleaned well. You can clean with mild soap and water. For better results use a high-quality specialized glass cleaning agent.

  • Spray the glass with the cleaning agent. 
  • Rinse it off with clean water.
  • Wipe it with a clean dry cloth.

It helps you get rid of any residue, oil, dirt, or dust and prevents your final glass product from becoming foggy. 

Find the Right Kiln

Always choose a kiln that is specifically designed for firing glass. Avoid using kilns that are meant for ceramics. You might not get an accurate result.

Selecting the size of your kiln according to your fusing needs is also important for better results. 

  • If you’re planning on doing minor glass fusing projects, it’s better to invest in a small kiln.
  • If you wish to work on multiple fusing projects, consider buying a large kiln. 

Get a Kiln Shelf

Make sure you invest in a high-quality kiln shelf that can withstand temperatures of up to 2000° Fahrenheit (1093° Celsius). It helps you set your glass on the kiln. These are available in a variety of materials such as:

  • Cordierite
  • High alumina
  • Silicon carbide
  • Nitride bonded silicon carbide

and more.

Pro Tip: For better fusing, make sure your kiln casting mold also withstands high temperatures similar to the kiln shelf.

Apply Kiln Primer

For smooth fusing, you need to apply kiln primer—kiln wash and kiln paper. Kiln primer has the following benefits:

  • It can withstand high temperatures.
  • It prevents your glass from sticking to the kiln shelf.
  • It ensures your glass comes off easily.
  • It also protects your shelf from glaze meltdown.

Difference between Kiln Wash & Kiln Paper

Kiln papers are significantly more expensive than kiln washes. Every time a kiln shelf is used, you need to apply a new kiln wash and remove it after firing. It is a messy and time-consuming process. 

On the other hand, you just need to place a new kiln paper every time you fire your kiln. 

Purchase the Essential Safety Equipment

Protective Eyeglasses

These will protect your eyes from small sharp glass fragments. These fragments can pop off during cutting, nipping, and breaking the glass. 

Heat-Resistant Gloves

These will help you protect your hands from the intense heat when you stick your hands into your kiln.

Respirator/Mask 

It protects you from glass dust, also called silica. If you breathe this dust, it can cause damage to your lungs.

First-Aid Kit

When you work with such high temperatures, it is a must to have a first-aid kit ready. It should include:

  • Band-aids
  • Aspirin/Tylenol
  • Neosporin
  • Cotton bandages
  • Small scissors
  • Antiseptic solution
  • First-aid tape

et cetera.

Get the Necessary Glass Cutting Tools

Glass Cutters

Glass cutters help you score lines on the sheet glass and cut them into the required shapes.

Mosaic Cutters

Mosaic cutters have sharp cutting tips that allow you to nip glass rods and sheets. 

Grozing Pliers 

Grozing pliers help you chip away the rough edges of the glass before fusing.

Running Pliers 

The slight curves of running pliers help you apply pressure on the glass to break it evenly.

Breaking Pliers 

Similar to running pliers, breaking pliers help break the glass along the scored lines.

Marker 

A marker allows you to draw designs on the glass before firing. The marks burn off in the firing.

Conclusion

The right way to become a fusing expert is to start with the basics. It is easy to create stunning artwork with glass if you are well prepared. 

Now you know how to choose the right types of glass, kiln, kiln shelf, kiln primer, slumping molds, and various other slumping supplies. We hope this guide will help you to better understand what fusing is. 

Make sure you have all the cutting tools and safety equipment before you start your fusing project.

Categories
Glass Fusing

Everything you Need to Know about Art Glass Kiln Wash

A successful art glass kiln firing is dependent on various factors. One particularly valuable factor which protects an artist’s work is the art glass kiln wash. Whether you’re a glass or a ceramic artist, knowing the properties of kiln wash is essential. It helps you produce high-quality end results.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the purpose of kiln wash. We’ll explain how to mix, apply, remove, and dispose of kiln wash effectively.

What Is Kiln Wash?

Kiln wash, also known as shelf primer, is a liquid substance that is applied onto kiln shelves. It is a sacrificial layer that prevents glass artwork from sticking to the kiln shelf. It is made of refractory substances—zirconium, alumina, silica, etc.—with high melting points.

Depending on the intended firing temperature, glass artists can adjust the kiln wash formula. For example, more alumina or zirconium is used in high-fire programs because of their high melting points.

Why do you Need Kiln Wash?

The sole purpose of kiln wash is to protect the glass artwork and the kiln shelf. The kiln shelf is usually made of hard ceramic material. If the glaze comes in direct contact with the kiln shelf, it will stick.

To make sure this never happens, we use kiln wash to ensure the glaze won’t stick to the kiln shelf. It is a preventative measure for all glaze firing accidents such as:

  • You may tip over the kiln shelf
  • Glaze may unexpectedly run, drip, spit or melt into the shelf
  • You may over-fire the kiln

How to Mix Kiln Wash

A pre-made kiln wash usually comes in powder form. All you need to do is put some of the powder in a bowl and add water to it. Stir the mixture until it has the consistency of pancake batter.

Too thick and too thin kiln wash have their own demerits.

  • Too thick kiln wash will cause peeling and cracking during firing.
  • Too thin kiln wash will not effectively protect the kiln shelf.

Pro Tip: Always mix in small batches

How to Apply Kiln Wash?

Using a classic ceramic kiln or an Olympic glass kiln? The procedure of applying kiln wash is the same. Before applying kiln wash to your new kiln shelf, wipe it with a damp cloth to remove dust particles.

Also, it is recommended to fire your empty kiln to drive out any organic material. Now you are ready to apply kiln wash.

Always Apply Thin Coats

You can use a spray gun, paintbrush, utility brush, sponge, or roller to apply kiln wash to the kiln shelf. Make sure you apply thin and even coats. Avoid applying kiln wash to the edges of the kiln shelf. It can flake off onto your glazed pieces during firing.

Apply at least 3 Coats of Kiln Wash

You should apply at least three full coats of kiln wash. It ensures enough protection between your glass artwork and the kiln shelf. Allow 60 minutes per layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

Scrape Kiln Wash that Flakes off

If the kiln wash is flaking, use a paint scraper to remove any loose pieces and apply a new coat. Similarly, if you notice any glaze dropping onto the shelf, remove it and dab some fresh kiln wash on the bare spot.

Kiln Wash Placement

It should be applied only to the top of the kiln shelf instead of on both sides. Chances are your kiln wash starts to flake and leave marks on your glaze. Make sure you apply a kiln wash away from the heating elements.

How to Remove Kiln Wash

Just because its name is kiln wash, doesn’t mean you could easily wash it off after firing. You need to scrape off the loose kiln wash patches before it starts flaking. A heavy-duty paint scraper with a 3- or 4-inch width is the best to scrape off flakes.

Avoid using a six-inch or bigger scraper. Although a big scraper may at first seem a better choice. You may think it will cover more area in less time. But in reality, it is more flexible and won’t help you scrape off the kiln wash easily.

Glaze Removal

It is essential to remove any glaze stick to the shelf before you fire your kiln again. The glaze will damage your kiln shelf by gradually eating it away. Be careful while removing melted glaze from the shelf. You may damage the kiln shelf by digging too hard.

How to dispose of Kiln Wash

You should always dispose of your used kiln wash in a tied-up trash bag. Although Kiln Wash may not be a toxic substance, its dust particles (if inhaled) may harm your lungs.

Conclusion

If you wish your art glass pieces to easily come out of the kiln shelf, you need to apply kiln wash to your kiln shelf. It protects glaze from sticking to your kiln and keeps your kiln in prime condition for your next projects.

We hope this guide will help you to better understand what kiln wash is and why it’s needed. Now you know how to mix, apply, remove, and dispose of kiln wash.