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How to do glass fusing

How to use Metal in Glass Fusing

How to use Metals in Glass Fusing often is simply Hi temp wire to hang glass or jewelry but it is a very large and diversified topic. In this tips and tricks article for fused glass, we are attempting to provide you with the basic important foundation information so that you will not have to do a lot of test firing and waste your glass.

Important details when fusing metals with glass:

A. Glass and metals are two very different materials and thus have two different rates of expansion. It is important to know the COE of your glass and rates of expansion. Our How To on Determining Glass Compatibility is a great start to understanding each different glass COE (Coefficients of expansion).

B. Annealing your glass when any metals are fused with glass is a MUST! The general rule is that smaller pieces of metal and glass need less annealing. The larger the glass thickness and the larger amounts of metals, the slower and longer the annealing schedule needs to be.

C. Find out if the metal is a pure metal like Brass, Copper, etc. or if it is an alloy, which is a mix of different metals. Alloys can vary widely and can significantly change the expected results when fusing between glass. We sell a full line of jewelry size metal inclusions that are test fired for you so you do not have to worry about metal content and we also offer metal wire and sheets in copper and brass to give you freedom of design. Make sure you also read our Tips and Tricks on How To Fuse Glass Metal Inclusions into your fused glass.

D. Cleaning of the glass on all sides and of the metals prior to firing them together is always recommended. This prevents other chemicals and/or factors such as machine or human oils getting on the metals and glass.

E. Determine your fused glass projects weight. When using the metal as a hanger or connecting piece this will allow you to know what size metal wire, etc. you need to support the art piece.

F. Know the melting point of the metal (see chart below) that you want to incorporate. This will also allow you to compare this to the needed firing schedule to kiln fire your glass project to the form desired. See our Tips and Tricks on Basic Fused Glass Firing Schedules.

Metals used for Fused Glass Inclusions and their Melting temperatures:

Metal COE of Metal Melting Point °F Melting Point °C
Aluminum 248 1218 659
Brass 212 1050 900
Copper 176 1981 1081
Gold 110 1915 1061
*Cast Iron 108 2300 1200
*Lead 295 621 320
Silver 191 1764 962
Steel (High Carbon) 121 2500 1374
Steel (Stainless) 171 2600-2750 1430-1507
*Tin 398 788 415

* These metals are not recommended for fusing with glass.

How to do glass fusing Masterwork examples of what is possible with glass fusing. From left to right: Tall vessels, by Amanda Simmons; Tapestry, by Richard Parrish; Pâte de verre, by Alicia Lomné.

What is glass fusing?

Technically speaking, glass fusing is the process by which different forms and colors of glass are bonded through heat in a kiln. In practical terms, however, glass fusing represents a technological revolution in modern studio art.

Like the well-known art of glass blowing, glass fusing allows makers to create an endless range of objects that capitalize on the unique properties of glass. Unlike glass blowing, glass fusing does not require a furnace or other industrial-level equipment (and their expenses). Rather, it offers a feasible and affordable option for hobbyists and artists interested in building their own studio and creative practice.

If you are searching for a new hobby, a new craft, a new art form—or if you know you’ve found it and are ready to dive in—you’ve come to the right place!

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A readiness to explore and enjoy!
  • Basic knowledge. You can attend an array of introductory classes at any of our five Bullseye Resource Centers. In addition, you can join our online video subscription service for over 100 lessons, projects, and features. We also have numerous affiliates around the world who offer Bullseye-focused glass fusing classes.
  • Basic tools and supplies — here’s our all-in-one starter kit.
  • An understanding of how to be safe with kiln-glass.
  • Access to high-quality kiln-glass.
  • Access to your own kiln or a kiln available at Bullseye or a local studio.
  • It also helps to have inspiration for all that you can do with kiln-glass!

Watch our video on Glass Fusing Basics:

The Wider World of Glass Fusing & Kiln-Glass

Your journey into glass fusing will prove as dynamic as you want it to be. Explore techniques that include slumping, casting, printing with powders or enamels, torchworking, kilncarving, coldworking, and many more. Kiln-glass (the stuff that makes glass fusing possible) represents an art and craft that spans the painterly and organic, the sculptural and expressive, the geometric and conceptual. Delve into making for home and garden, for fine art, for fine dining, for large scale public art or architecture.

In other words, if you have a creative ambition—if your imagination leaps at the thought of making with light and color and depth—then keep exploring. Bullseye is here to equip, inspire, and empower you on your way.

How to do glass fusing

Functional Design

Tabletops, dinnerware, benches, stairs, or even high tech lenses—fused glass can make it.

How to do glass fusing

Torchwork

Beads, jewelry, pendants, ornaments—the possibilities of kiln-glass don’t end in the kiln.

How to do glass fusing

Color Lab

Bullseye’s extensive palette and accessory glasses offer artists the chance to make their own custom colors.

How to do glass fusing

Stained Glass

Bullseye’s ring mottle and lustre sheet glasses are game-changers for traditional and architectural glass projects.

How to do glass fusing

Gallery Art

Kiln-glass enjoys a strongly-represented presence in the world of fine art. To learn more about influential contemporary artists, visit the website of Bullseye Projects or The Corning Museum of Glass.