Saturday, December 3, 2016

Handmade fused dichroic glass jewelry: working with glass decals

It's been almost a year since I started making glass pieces. To date, this is my favorite jewelry discipline. I love wire work and enamel, but I'm happiest when I'm fusing glass.

I still have a lot to learn and am constantly experimenting with new techniques. Lately, I've been playing with glass decals. In April, I'll be selling my pieces at a Tarot fair, so I plan to have jewelry that resonates with this particular audience. My glass pendants will be adored with celestial symbols, Zodiac figures, Trees Of Life, etc. You can pretty much cover any interest with decals!

Hundreds of different decals are available on specialty sites and even Amazon, which has a surprisingly thorough collection. They're super easy to use: you soak the decal in warm water for about 30 seconds, gently peel off the backing and carefully apply the decal to the glass. Once the decal dries -- usually after a few hours -- you can fire it onto the piece, making the design permanent. So simple! Or so I thought...

I purchased several decal packs, including cats, sun and moon figures and fairies. As soon as they arrived, I eagerly got to work sticking decals on pieces, but I really should've watched an instructional video before digging in. For my first attempt, I heated the decal onto a piece of unfired glass, which you aren't supposed to do. The glass fused, but the decal burned, leaving a black mark on the surface.

Next, I correctly added the decal to a piece of already-fused glass... but this time, I heated the glass too quickly and it snapped in half. Damn!

Since the decals look best with solid backgrounds, I purchased beautiful fuchsia and gold glass. Unfortunately, the glass kept cracking in my kiln. I finally tried a new technique where I very slowly heat the pieces, 15-20 seconds at a time. It's a time-consuming process, but the glass heats evenly and doesn't break. I'm also doing this with the decals, so that they don't burn.

I'm still making some mistakes: there were a couple of pieces where the decal was underfired and rubbed right off the glass. The sun and moon figures have a backing and a coating on the front, which I hadn't realized, so my first attempt at firing them resulted in my pieces catching fire. But I'm learning! I'm practicing and am getting there, and as you can see from my above photos, have managed to create some beautiful pieces.

I've just ordered a couple more packs: inspirational words, like "Love," "Hope" and "Piece" and designer hearts. These decals add a fun, new dimension to my glass and it's been worth the effort to work with them.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped, fused glass and enamel jewelry at my WEBSITE/STORE or Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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