Many friends and family members have asked how I've learned to fuse glass. Well, I did take a class at the beginning of the year and I also watch a lot of videos. My favorites are by Tanya Veit, an artist who works for AAE Glass. Her videos are comprehensive and I've learned so much from her. There are several on YouTube; you can also download some on the AAE site.
I'm also learning different techniques just from practicing. The great thing about having my own kiln is I can make as much glass as I want. So while there have been failures, I've also picked up some new skills along the way.
Lately, I've been working on layering. Ideally, you'd have a full-sized kiln for fusing glass -- one where you can make dozens of pieces at once and fire them over gradually increasing temperatures over the course of a few hours. Frankly, those tools are expensive and I don't really have room for one in my apartment, so I'm depending on my microwave. It limits me because I can't do multiple firings like you can with a larger, more professional kiln, but I can still do plenty with it -- and I've been experimenting with various techniques and textures.
In the above photo, I show how those techniques can create very different types of glass. In the upper left-hand corner is a piece that's been overfired. To be honest, I did not mean to overfire it, but I left it in for a bit too long. The dichroic glass is deeply embedded into the clear base and rounded out; there are few distinct lines between designs. Also, the colors have dulled.
On the other hand, the piece next to it, in the upper right-hand corner, has been underfired. While the dichroic glass has been fully fused onto the base, it still has a textured, 3D effect. The glass edges are well-defined and the colors pop. I personally love underfiring because the pieces are so vibrant.
That blue piece in the lower left-hand corner has been fired for just the right amount of time (this is a lot like Golidilocks, LOL). I did this by using only two layers, as I did in the pieces above. It's simply blue glass fired onto clear. That top layer is "uncapped," resulting in glass with a shiny, metallic finish.
The other blue piece in the lower right-hand corner, was made with three layers: clear, blue and green tie-dyed dichoic, clear. This glass was "capped," resulting in a thicker, rounder design where the dichro looks as if it's floating.
When it comes to techniques and layering glass, there are literally millions of things you can try! Veit demonstrated pendants made with five or six layers; she likes to use transparent glass so she can create interesting colored background and add depth to her designs. I've been trying to do more of this. I successfully fired a four-layer pendant the other day, but the colors were too dark and it came out looking a little murky. Still, it didn't fall apart or melt, so I at least know it can be done. I'm going to continue to practice and see what I come up with -- and if I make some beautiful creations along the way, even better.