Friday, 4 January 2008

Basic Dichroic Glass Tutorial

Ok....some i'm housebound and i'm exceedingly bored so i'm going to do a basic dichroic glass fusing tutorial!
To start off the tutorials i'm doing the simplest type of dichroic glass pendant-The patterned dichroic glass pendant ...there are many tricks and tweeks you so can throw in but I'll add those in later tutorials.
To start of....Tools! You'll need ....A glass cutter and breaking shears, glass fusing glue...and shelf primer or fusing paper

I use a Toyo glass's oil filled to give you clean cut and it stays sharp. There's a few styles available if you prefer a different grip.

Glass fusing glue is important to keep your work in position before firing it. The best type is either glastac or elmer's fusing glue...When I started I did use PVA!...To be perfectly honest provided you use a very very small amount PVA is ok in an emergency. As the glue burns off it can react with the glass leaving marks though so it's best to stick with purpose made glues.

Shelf primer is a powder that you mix with water to line the kiln shelf before it goes into the kiln. It stops the glass sticking to the shelf as the glass melts. I tend to prefer to use shelf paper's less fuss and the underside of the glass usually comes out a lot smoother. When using either of these you must treat them with care. Use them with a dustmask and be careful not to breath in the dust.

When deciding which glass to use in your fusing project the key thing to bare in mind is compatibility! When you see fusing glass for sale you'll see COE next to the title...90COE, 104COE etc etc. YOU MUST ONLY FUSE GLASS OF THE SAME COE!...if you try and mix them up they'll only shatter as the glass cools...which is not good! I use all 90COE.

Dichroic Glass comes in 2 types...on clear or on black. You'll get slighly different results for the pattern depending on which type you use. I tend to prefer 'on clear' as it gives the piece more depth and it's more versatile-it can be layered on top of another piece of dichroic glass.

I cut the dichroic glass to shape...i'm using 2 layers of dichroic glass so I cut them to exactly the same size. Cutting glass can be tricky to start with. Cut standing up and only go over the cut once. Don't keep cutting at the same line because all it'll do will splinter the glass and blunt the cutter. You must remember IF YOU'RE USING MORE THAN ONE LAYER OF DICHROIC GLASS THE COATED SIDES OF THE GLASS MUSTN'T TOUCH EACH OTHER WHILE THEY'RE BEING FIRED. They won't fuse properly and you'll just end up with a lumpen mess!

I layer the glass on top of each other and fix into place with a small amount of glue. I then add a clear top layer of glass...again with the same COE. This must be a few mm's bigger than the bottom layer or the dichroic coating will seep out. I add an extra clear piece of glass of the same size as the bottom layers to give the finished pendant more depth.

Here's the unfused pieces in my dinky little kiln...i've been too poorly to do any more than these!

Kiln firing scheduales are available online. They can vary considerably as can the temps of each kiln so it's best to test fire a few times. A general rule of thumb with dichroic glass is that it doesn't like temperatures over 8100c...I try and not fire over 800. and I fire over a 1 1/2 -3 hour period so the glass doesn't heat up or cool down too quickly and make the glass rough or firing scheduales!
And here's the finished piece!
This is a very rough guide to dichroic glass fusing and i'm sure i've missed things out but drop me a line if there's something you're not sure on!

I'll do more complex guides soon but you can check out my dichroic glass jewellery here.

I would add that if you're serious about starting to glass fuse Brad Walker's Contemporary Warmglass is an invaluable tool...I still refer to it!

All equiptment used here is available from .....I don't get commision from them honestly!..They really are an excellent, knowledgable company...very good value too!


sexuo harassMINT panda said...

Hey.. this is a cool guide.. can't wait to read more.. I'm really intrigued with glass jewelery making, and hopefully I'll get enough money to buy all the bits and pieces soon! lol I probably can't afford proper classes that some people I know attend and benefit from >.< I just like to muck around with pretty things :) so I really appreciate guides like yours!

Many thanks!


The Beading Gem said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain the process and the tools! I learned a lot. I will feature/link in a future post so others can come visit. Pearl

Felicity Butler said...

Hiya -

Im a second yr BA student and to be honest have not done a large amount of Fusing....we I have but.. you know what it is like..

My Question is.....

your Quote: "I then add a clear top layer of glass...again with the same COE. This must be a few mm's bigger than the bottom layer or the dichroic coating will seep out. I add an extra clear piece of glass of the same size as the bottom layers to give the finished pendant more depth."

Have I understood this right?

you have 2 layers of dichroic then artista/ Tekta clear/a-n-other. The first being slightly larger than the Dichroic pieces and the Top one being the same size?

I ask as I assume...that the first piece of clear being bigger effectivley "slumps" around the Dichroic????? and the second(top) piece helps to create that 3D effect on the dichroic...........................????

Your answer would be really helpfull as I am about to start a brief for Uni that will involve a lot of fusing/kiln casting, and I have been frustrated with my fusing results thus far as they then require cold finishing.... bring on the grits!!!

Many Thanks and Thank You.