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Our Favorite Warm Glass Projects
Warm glass can be a daunting craft for beginners. Glass kilns can be expensive, their firing schedules are more complicated than basic bisque and glaze firing, and even though you can do a lot with basic tools, more advanced techniques require specialized tools. So what are some basic glass projects you can do in a ceramic kiln?
Firing Glass with Pottery
The easiest glass project may also be one of the most popular and best looking. Take any ceramic vessel such as a plate, bowl, or cup - anything that can hold liquid – place colored glass in the bottom and fire as you would normally (cone 6 is recommended). Any glass will work, but glass made for fusing is more likely to retain its color (reds will almost all turn brown regardless). Glass will expand as it is heated and some glasses will start to bubble or foam in the kiln, so start with one or two pieces and then experiment with more as you grow more comfortable with the technique.
Remember, melted glass will always seek the lowest point, so patterns carved into the bottom of your vessel will fill with glass first, which can make for a very attractive effect.
Glass can be used on the clay body or with glaze. Each combination of glaze and glass will produce a different result. One great way to experiment is to make a lot of candle holders. Either dishes or bowls just big enough for a votive candle can be made by the dozens and will fit nicely in the odd spaces in the kiln. Just be sure to take notes of the glass/glaze combinations and number each piece before firing because the results may be unexpected.
Note: Melted glass in pottery has surface-level cracks that can collect dust, bacteria or mold and is therefore not considered food safe.
Slumped Bottles are some of the most popular fused glass products. They are cheap and easy to make even in a manual ceramic kiln, just be sure to position the bottle somewhere visible through the peephole and keep a close eye on it, otherwise you risk going beyond slumping and you end up with a glass puddle. Be sure to read our tips on bottle slumping to get the firing profiles.
Making a Glass Tartan
Tartan is a pattern used in textiles by crisscrossing bands of overlapping colors. The same pattern can be used in glass fusing by overlapping colored glass. You can use this pattern as a starting point for any fused or slumped glass project such as jewelry, bowls, or plates.
The first step is to pick a tartan.
Next, separate the horizontal bars and the vertical bars of colors and make some sort of guide for yourself (the easiest way to do this is to look at the areas where the colors don't intersect). The Stewart tartan, like most tartans, has the same horizontal and vertical patterns so once you have one half of the pattern, turn it on its side and you have the second half. You should now see that you will need 3 colors of glass (not counting the white space): red, green and black. Make sure you are using transparent colors or the overlapping effect will not work.
Now cut your glass. Use stringers for the fine lines and cut plates for the thick bars. Don't try to be exact, being consistent is much more important. As long as your red bars are all the same and your green bars are all the same, nobody is going to notice if the proportions are slightly off.
The Stewart Clan tartan is a good example as it uses only 3 colors and is one of the most common family tartans in Scotland.
For more information on firing glass in your ceramic kiln, make sure you read our tip: Firing Glass (in your ceramic kiln)
Time to Upgrade
By now you've probably caught the warm glass bug and you are ready to do some full-on glass fusing. We have all of the essentials for the beginner glass artist in the list below: