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How To Start A Glass Fusing Business

Starting a glass fusing business can be a rewarding experience but it requires careful planning. Not only do you need to consider the investment that you will require in terms of equipment and also time but you will also need to understand whether you can make a viable business from your glass production.


How to start a glass fusing business

The kiln is perhaps the most vital piece of equipment required for glass fusing. A microwave kiln is one option but it would not be suitable for business production and can also be variable in terms of the finished product. It is very difficult to control the temperature in a microwave kiln, something which is vital in glass fusing.

Before you purchase a kiln for your glass fusing business, you need to ask the question - are you going to be using your kiln only for fused glass or do you intend to use it for other items as well such as ceramics? It may be wise not to just concentrate on one product when you are setting up production of glass as a business.

Specialist glass kilns can produce enough heat for some of the low fire clays but they do not reach the temperatures required for porcelain, for example. If you are thinking of undertaking both disciplines for your business, then this needs consideration. So, if you want to fire ceramics as well as glass, you are going to need a ceramic kiln. However, if you are looking to specialize in fusing glass then a glass kiln is most suited, as you can control the temperature and ensure it is evenly distributed over the surface of the glass.


Manual or programmable kiln?

Manual kilns are generally less expensive as they are controlled using a simple power switch and a dial to control the temperature. The disadvantage of a manual kiln is that you need to be in control of the kiln at all times. Many projects require a firing schedule with 4 or 5 different temperatures, so you cannot leave your kiln and have to be in control throughout the firing to change the temperature. This is obviously not always practical, particularly if you have a busy life otherwise.

A programmable kiln enables the temperature to change automatically depending on your settings and will turn off at the end of the cycle. This allows you to undertake other tasks in your business, such as administration or marketing, which are equally as important as the finished product.


What size of kiln do you need for your glass fusing business?

There are a couple of considerations needed when thinking about the size of kiln you will need for your glass fusing business. Are you making small items such as jewelry or are you planning to make large statement pieces? You will also need to consider what quantity of products you need to make in order to make your business viable. If you need to make several items at one time, then clearly you will need a larger capacity kiln.


What tools will you need for your glass fusing business?

For a small glass fusing business, you will need some tools for cutting your glass into shape after it has been fused. You will need a glass cutter with a wheel which scores the glass. These come in various designs and shapes, depending on what you need. You may also need some oil for lubrication.

Once you have marked out your glass, you will need a pair of breakers or pliers to separate the two pieces. Breakers/runners use pressure on either side of the score line which makes the glass split along that line. These tools are ideal if you are cutting straight lines. However, if you are cutting curves or circles you will need a pair of grozing pliers. For very fine or mosaic pieces, mosaic nippers are the ideal tool.


Another consideration is that you need a surface to cut your glasswork on. Many small glass fusing makers use a craft mat or even cardboard. However, if you are looking to create a glass fusing business on a more industrial scale, you may want to invest in a proper cutting surface. These are generally a plastic surface with spaces which allow small fragments of glass to fall away so you don’t cut yourself with them.

When you have mastered your technique and you have a process, you may consider investing in a larger cutting device such as a ringsaw. These can be expensive to buy but can make very specific cuts to your glass, which is definitely useful when producing in mass.

You may also find that you require a small drill for cutting holes in glass. Using a diamond drill bit, you can make holes where needed to house wire or chains if you are making jewellery.

Consider that glass leaves many tiny particles behind when cut or drilled, so you will need some form of removing the dust, both to avoid cutting yourself and also to avoid inhaling the glass dust. A small handheld vacuum would suffice or even a dustpan and brush.

If you are making glass projects on a commercial scale, then it would be wise to invest in a tabletop grinder. Tabletop grinders are cooled by water and enable you to quickly and easily smooth any edge, rather than tediously doing this process by hand.

On a much larger scale, you could invest in a wet belt sander, which may require a dedicated electrical supply. A belt sander can create a serious amount of dust or mess, so it would be wise to consider a dedicated workshop for your business.


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



What about a glass fusing business plan?

In order to set up a viable glass fusing business, you will need to consider writing a business plan. This will ensure that you can fully plan what you intend your business to be. In order to be a success, you will need to identify who your customers are going to be, where you are going to sell your products and what investments you need to make. You will also need to consider how you are going to market your items.

If you require funding for your glass fusing business, a business plan may help to support your case to financial providers. Most importantly, it will provide you with some guidelines for your business and give you the best opportunity for making it a success.


Finding a kiln for your glass fusing business

As mentioned earlier in this piece, the kiln is perhaps the most vital piece of equipment in your fledgling business. 

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 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