What is "Fused Glass"?
Fused glass a process by which disparate pieces of glass are heated in a kiln in order to create a new piece of glass. Fusing glass is a very specialized form of glass, intended for this purpose, with known and predictable behavior for expansion and contraction at varying temperatures. Not just any glass can be combined together through this process. All fusing glass is assigned a number (COE=Coefficiency of Expansion), and only glass with the same number can be combined, and should come from the same manufacturer. I use Bullseye glass ( www.bullseyeglass.com ) based in Portland, Oregon. Their glass is of a very high quality, with a wide range of colors in sheet glass (large flat pieces of glass) and frit (ground glass).
What is the difference between fused glass and blown glass?
Although many of the properties of glass used in fused glass and blown glass are similar (how minerals that create various colors interact with each other, or develop in the heat, viscosity and surface tension, use of design elements such as stringers and frit (ground glass), they are fundamentally worked differently. Blown glass is literally blown into a shape after a large “gather” of glass is wound onto an instrument in a heated area called a glory hole. Fused glass starts out in flat sheets of glass that are cut by hand or with a wet saw, and layered, then fired in the kiln. The shaping of blown glass is all done by the artist (with a partner), while fused glass takes on its shape through one or more firings into molds, at a much lower temperature than the original fusing.
What other techniques do you employ when creating a fused glass art piece?
There are many techniques that can be incorporated into a piece, many of which I have learned through Bullseye Glass’s educational programs. In my Flora and Fauna Series pieces, ( www.glasspassions.com/our-store#!/Flora-and-Fauna-... ) I often pre make design elements either cutting them out on a wet saw (I use Taurus Gemini Ring Saw), fuse the pieces into a design, such as a flower or butterfly, then apply those elements to a dish and re fire the glass. In these same series of dishes, I sometimes “pull” stringers or leaves of glass on the torch, set them aside, and apply them to a dish.
Sandblasting, with and without enamel fill is a fun way to do some sophisticated work in fused glass. An initial piece of glass is prepared, usually of two layers, fired, and put aside. Then, using either photographs that have been printed in a bitmap or stamp image, or hand drawn images (a favorite of mine) are developed onto a special film that serves as a mask for the sandblaster (Rayzist photomask system) and the piece is then sandblasted to take on the photo or drawn image (https://www.glasspassions.com/our-store#!/Coasters/c/45841200/offset=0&sort=normal ). Details of this process can be seen step by step on my process page.
“Painting” with frit (ground glass) is a lovely way to create watercolor like images, such as those seen in my “Birdie Bowls.” The ground glass is sprinkled onto the glass and moved around with a dry paintbrush, until the image is satisfactory, then it is carefully transferred to the kiln and fired, then fired once again in a mold to make the bowl shape (https://www.glasspassions.com/our-store#!/~/search/keyword=birdie bowls ). Each process must be done at different temperatures, and therefore requires multiple firings.
Is fused glass food safe?
Yes, it is safe to serve food on a fused glass dish. It is recommended that the glass be hand washed to avoid marring of glass, and that it not be stacked with other dishes on top of it without bumpers or some protection, as the glass can be scratched, like any other glass.
What inspirations do you use to create your art?
I am inspired by the Natural World. As a lover of animals, of gardening and outdoor adventure, including scuba diving, I am influenced by the magnificent colors and shapes that Nature provides. Sometimes my interpretations are quite literal, as in my hand drawn animal images sandblasted onto the glass, or my zebra patterned glass, and sometimes they are playful and whimsical, as in the flower face dishes, and other times it is the more abstract juxtaposing of color and texture in Nature, as in my River Rock series. The essence of color combinations that remain in my head after scuba diving in tropical waters gives rise to visions in glass.
How can I get a custom piece of glass?
There are nearly endless possibilities of designs and color combinations, and with the range of molds that I have in my collection, many sizes and shapes are possible. I welcome design ideas, whether it be a photo you would like sandblasted into glass, a favorite bird, flower, or animal you would like to see in glass, or? Asking is the best way to find out if I can achieve your goal. Feel free to email me a Janie@glasspassions.com
How can fused glass be displayed?
There are many stands available to display art glass, if you have a dish or flat piece of glass you would like to put on a table or shelf. Delphi glass has a great variety, as one option. Also, if you wish to hang your glass art on a wall, I highly recommend Hang Your Glass at https://hangyourglass.com/
They carry an elegant system for hanging art glass of a wide range of sizes and weights. Their epoxy is incredibly strong, and you can create beautiful displays at varying heights with their amazingly small but durable hardware. I have had two large glass art pieces I made hanging on a wall in a humid environment for the last few years with no issues!
Can I choose my own color combinations?
Yes! There are a wide range of color options in both opaque and transparent colors that I carry in my studio. If you have particular colors in mind, whether combined with a preexisting pattern or design on my website, contact me at Janie@glasspassions.com and I will be happy to work with you. Custom projects are among my favorites!
Do you do other types of glass art?
I also create flameworked jewelry, bottle stoppers, lamp finials, and cabinet pulls and knobs. Although not listed on glasspassions.com, I frequently post work on my Facebook glasspassions page, and on Instagram. I will happily send photos of my work and make custom pieces for you.