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How To Fuse Glass At Home - Tips, Tricks & Techniques

Glass fusing at home is a great way for beginners to start a hobby or business. There are so many things that you can make when glass fusing at home including jewellery, plates, coasters or even small window panes for your home.

Fused glass at home enables you to experiment with different techniques depending on what you are looking to achieve. Flat or with a texture, or mix big shapes with small bits of glass frit. You can even add powders or wire as part of your design. There are endless possibilities.


What is glass fusing?

Glass fusing at home or in a more industrial setting has the same basic principles. It is essentially heating two or more pieces of glass in a kiln so that they melt together.

The temperatures required for melting glass are particularly high and range from 1400F/760C to 1500F/815C. The level of heat depends on what type of glass is being fired, and what you are looking to achieve from your finished piece. In general, a higher temperature creates a smoother finish and is known as a ‘full fuse’.


What do you need to do before fusing glass at home

When fusing glass at home, the type of glass that you use is crucial. The glass needs to be able to withstand being heated up and then cooled down in the kiln, ensuring that it doesn’t break after undergoing this treatment. Conversely, this means that you can’t necessarily use up bits and pieces from other projects, as all pieces for fused glass need to be compatible with each other to create a successful project.

There is specific glass used for glass fusing which is called ‘fusible glass’. The best thickness for fused glass at home is 1/4inch (6mm).

If you fired a square piece that was too thin, for example 3mm sheet glass in a kiln, the edges can shrink and the piece would lose its shape. Fire a square piece that’s too thick (9mm) and the volume of glass pushes outwards and again loses its shape. In between these two measurements, the glass tends to hold its shape better.


What you need to fuse glass at home

Your tools may vary depending on what your finished project is intended to be, but you should have access to a selection of fusible glass, a pattern, a glass cutter, grozing pliers, a detergent cleaner, safety glasses, a dustpan and brush and most importantly a kiln.

Further Reading: Glass Fusing 101: Supplies, Tools and Equipment You Need


How to fuse glass at home

For a beginner at fusing glass at home, it is best to start with something simple and not too ambitious. Coasters are a good idea, as they are relatively small and can be controlled fairly easily. Two layers of glass are best for fusing and so ensure that your design is suitable for this.

In order to form a smooth coaster (which would be suited to its purpose), it’s a good idea to lay your pattern of shapes underneath a complete top layer to ensure that you achieve a flat surface. This technique is known as ‘capping‘. The difficulty with having smaller shapes on top is that you might get some texture where they meet and therefore an uneven finished surface.


Fusing glass at home: a step by step guide

1. Designing

Firstly, draw a square on a piece of paper that is roughly the size that you want your finished piece to be. Next, sketch your pattern within the square, making sure to keep it simple so that cutting the glass is not too arduous a task.

For your first attempt, don’t worry about perfecting your design or your cutting. A simpler pattern will enable you to see how the glass reacts when fused and will help you to learn lessons for future projects.


2. Cutting and cleaning the glass

Take your time when cutting glass, as it’s very easy to break pieces and become frustrated. Cut out your pre-designed shapes and mark them on your glass, carefully using the glass cutter and the pliers to cut your glass to shape.

Once you are happy that you’ve cut everything to size, clean each piece with detergent, and dry thoroughly. Any oil or fingerprints will show after firing if you don’t undertake this process carefully.


3. Loading the kiln

Place your project carefully in the kiln, laying it either on ceramic fiber paper, or directly on a kiln shelf painted with batt wash. This will ensure that your finished project does not stick to the shelf.


4. Kiln firing schedule

This is just a guide, as each kiln has its own characteristics and can react differently.

This is a rough schedule for a full fuse on two layers of glass up to 30cm square.

  1. Heat the kiln up at around 400F/222C per hour to 1100F/600C
  2. Slow the heating rate down to around 200F/111C per hour.
  3. Hold the temperature at 1240F/670C for 30 minutes. If you want bubbles then leave this bit out.
  4. Fire as fast as possible to 1480F/804C.
  5. Soak for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat as fast as possible to annealing temperature as recommended by the glass manufacturer
  7. Hold at annealing temperature for 30 mins.
  8. Cool to room temperature at around 200F/111C per hour.


5. Opening the kiln

Do not be impatient! Opening the kiln too soon could see the piece cracked and therefore ruined. Wait until the kiln reaches room temperature before even considering opening it.


6. Cleaning your work

Wait until the piece has reached room temperature before cleaning it. If the piece is still too hot, the water could create ‘thermal shock’ and crack your finished piece.

In order to be successful with glass fusing at home, whether for a fledgling business or simply as a hobby, the kiln is going to be your most important piece of equipment.

At Soul Ceramics, we have a range of high quality electric glass and ceramic kilns which can accommodate small or large projects.

If you would like to know more about our range of kilns or you are looking to invest in a kiln for your hobby or business, please do not hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to advise you on the most suited kiln for your project.


Glass Fusing FAQ’s

Is it safe to fuse glass at home?

Absolutely! You can indeed bring the beautiful art of glass fusing right into your home. But before you get started, you'll need to have a proper setup. This includes a kiln - your heating hub for the glass, heat resistant gloves, and eyewear to keep you safe during the process. And of course, you'll need different pieces of glass to bring your creativity to life.

However, it's not just about having the right tools. Safety should be at the heart of your glass fusing adventure. Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated to avoid the build-up of potentially harmful fumes. Also, get to know your kiln well – understanding its functions and safety features is key.

How Do You Determine the Firing Schedule?

Mapping out the firing schedule for your glass fusing endeavor isn't a one-size-fits-all process - it's an art in itself! This crucial step is influenced by a variety of factors including the size and thickness of your glass pieces, the specific type of glass you're working with, and the end result you're aiming to achieve.

Normally, a firing schedule consists of a ramp-up phase where the temperature is gradually increased until it hits your target. Then, the temperature is held steady for a certain period of time before initiating a controlled cooling phase. But here's the catch: the exact temperatures and durations for these steps can vary quite a bit.

That's why it's recommended to kick off with a basic firing schedule and then fine-tune it based on the outcome and your observations. So, keep a keen eye on your kiln, observe how your glass reacts at different stages, and adjust your firing schedule as needed.


What kind of glass is best for glass fusing?

Diving into the world of glass fusing, you'll quickly realize that not all glass is created equal! The most suited is COE (Coefficient of Expansion) compatible glass. This glass has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that it expands and contracts uniformly when subjected to varying temperatures, warding off any unwanted breakage.

You'll find COE glass in different varieties, each with its own unique characteristics - think of it as your color palette for creating your glass masterpiece! Some of the main types of the COE glass are Bullseye and Spectrum, renowned for their quality and range.


How long does it take to fuse glass?

It depends. Generally, you're looking at a timeline that spans from 5 to 8 hours. This timeframe includes ramping up the kiln's heat, maintaining the target temperature, and then guiding the kiln through a slow cool-down period. Each step ensures your glass fuses just right. However, this timing isn't set in stone. The size and thickness of your piece, along with the unique features of your kiln, all play their parts.


How Can I Improve My Glass Fusing Skills?

Unleashing your full potential in the realm of glass fusing is a journey filled with practice, exploration, and lots of patience. Start off small - create simple pieces before stepping up to more complex designs. This will allow you to hone your skills gradually while gaining a thorough understanding of how different glass types respond to varying heat levels.

To boost your knowledge, consider enrolling in a glass fusing class or workshop. They provide a fantastic opportunity to learn from seasoned artists, get hands-on experience, and exchange ideas with fellow glass fusing enthusiasts. Being part of a community not only fuels your learning but also keeps you inspired and motivated.

And remember, dare to experiment! Trying out new techniques and stepping outside of your comfort zone can lead to some incredibly unique and stunning creations. Each misstep and unexpected outcome is not a failure, but a lesson learned, bringing you one step closer to mastering this fascinating art form.

With perseverance, passion, and an open mind, you'll see your glass fusing skills flourish. Remember, every expert was once a beginner.


Additional resources on glass fusing