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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.


Additional resources on glass fusing