Saturday, July 15, 2017

Creating multilayered fused glass dichroic pendants with patterned and clear glass

I've written several posts about my attempts to make multilayered dichroic glass pieces. Many of these attempts have failed because the glass broke or didn't fuse correctly, but I'm finally getting the hang of it! I'm now creating pendants that have four, five, six... and even seven layers of glass.

Lately, I've been experimenting with clear dichroic glass. I haven't worked much with this material, but the clear glass is great for fusing onto colored base glass or for creating layers. It has patterns and textures just like the dichroic glass on black, but is transparent. Therefore, when you fuse patterned clear glass on top of patterned opaque glass, you get a combo of those designs.

The trick to layering glass is to make sure each layer is even. I always start with a piece of base glass -- generally clear, black or white -- and then top it with opaque dichroics on black. However, I make sure that all of the dichros are the same thickness. This way, the next layer of glass will lay flat across. If you add a piece of say, Wissmach textured glass, which is lumpier than most other dichros, it'll be harder to get an even fuse. I like to use a dab of Krazy Glue to keep my pieces in place. The glue keeps the glass still for working purposes, but eventually burns off in the kiln.

Next, I add a few small clear pieces, choosing ones that have interesting tints and patterns. I then top it with a piece of clear base ... and then this is where the fun begins: I add a couple more layers of clear glass, again mixing up tints and patterns.

So far, seven is my record; that large blue piece that's at the top of this post is my seven-layer one. I didn't like how it turned out when I first took it from the kiln, but fell in love with it after it cooled and hardened. It reminds me of an ocean scene and I really like the color combinations.

I've found that if you pile the pieces on too high, the colors will become muddled and the glass will lose its shape. Basically, it's a bit like building a pyramid; I use more glass on the bottom and then use fewer -- and smaller -- pieces as I build up.

To heat such thick pieces, you need the larger microwave kiln. I do an initial firing for 9 minutes, then do 1 1/2-minute intervals. There's no way that these items would hold up in the small kiln; they'd probably break after about a minute of heating. Low and slow is the way to go!

I'm glad I'm paying more attention to the clear dichros because I'm going to be having my students work with colored base glass -- and I plan to show them how to fuse them with clears. I think they're really going to enjoy this lesson. I'm certainly enjoying my glass experiments.

Check out the rest of my handmade jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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