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Fused-glass pendants

Fused glass pendants
A few weeks ago, I took a group of Girl Scouts to make fused-glass pendants at SoulFire Art Studio in Delafield, WI. The girls were visiting the studio to make jewelry to give to their mothers or grandmothers for Mother’s Day. They could either make either two pendants or a pendant and a pair of earrings. 

Teresa Spencer, owner of SoulFire Art Studio, led us in making the projects. She explained that many make-your-own art studios have expanded into glass fusing. “It’s a great thing to do with older kids with beautiful results.”
glass workstation
The process was really quite simple. Shards of glass were arranged on a glass base, similar to a tile mosaic. The girls started with a choice of either clear or opaque white glass to use as the base for their pendants or earrings. Spencer instructed us in the proper use of the glass cutting tools—a scoring tool, running pliers and nippers. The tools could be used to change the shape of the cut glass or to cut new pieces of glass from large sheets. 

The use of proper protective gear—safety glasses and rubber safety or garden gloves—was strongly encouraged for working with the sharp glass.
Rainbow of glass
Next, Spencer led us over to a station where we could select our palette of glass. Plate after plate and bowl after bowl overflowing with pieces of rainbow-colored glass filled the tables. Behind the tables, there were shelves neatly lined with jars of colored frit, glass sticks, and large sheets of glass.

After a fun treasure hunt for the right shapes and colors, we arranged our designs. Some of the glass didn’t even require the use of tools for shaping. The thin glass sticks simply snapped like spaghetti noodles. I used the green ones for the stems of the flowers on my earrings. 

Abstract color blocks utilizing positive and negative space were by far the easiest to design. However, most of us decided to embrace spring by making flowers. Like any art project, the depth of our imaginations was the only thing limiting the possibilities.

While we worked, Spencer explained that glass fusing is basically melting glass at high temperatures in a kiln to adhere them to one another. The outcomes vary based on the temperature of the kiln and the air outside the kiln. 
Glass fusing examples
There are three different types of fusing—tack, contour, and full. Tack fuse (left) is fired at a lower temperature to simply “tack” the top piece of glass to the bottom piece of glass. Contour (middle two examples) is fired at a slightly higher temperature to melt the glass, but still leave the mosaic pieces slightly bumpy. Full fusing (right) is done at the highest temperature and melts the top pieces of glass into the bottom piece to achieve a smooth finish.

Once the designs were created, we sprayed them with hairspray to set or secure our creations before they were transferred to the kiln. The girls were delighted with their jewelry designs. By the time they were done, most wanted to keep one for themselves and give one to Mom. Maybe a studio near you offers glass fusing. There’s still a week before Mother’s day—plenty of time to drop a hint to your kids.
FIND MORE: glass , holiday , pendants , earrings

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