Contact Studio 22 Glass Fusion
Learn more about Annette Wagner, Glass Art and Studio 22.
WHAT IS FUSED GLASS?
Fused glass is said to have been discovered about 4,000 years ago by Phoenician sailors who cooked a meal on a beach under the stars. When they moved their pots the next morning, the sand beneath had turned to glass. The art of glass fusing virtually disappeared when the Romans developed glass blowing, resurfacing in the 1940s and growing rapidly in the 1990s when the Bullseye Glass company developed a special line of fusible glass. While there are many kinds of glass, the essential elements are still sand and intense heat.
Fused glass, also called warm glass and kiln-formed glass, happens when cut pieces of art glass are fired in a kiln to 1600˚F or more. The glass starts out as big sheets of art glass that is cut by hand with a simple glass cutter. I combine different sizes, shapes, textures and colors of glass in two to six layers. When all the pieces are put together, it goes into my kiln on a ceramic shelf and the fusing begins.
IS GLASS A LIQUID OR A SOLID?
Glass is considered to be a amorphous solid. That means its atoms and molecules are locked into place like a solid but are arranged more randomly than most solids, similar to a viscous liquid. Even though windows seem to be solid, the glass is made of a supercooled liquid whose molecules move very, very slowly and are cooled to a rigid amorphous solid state. You could say that glass is its own state of matter because it is neither a solid or a liquid.
As the glass heats up in the kiln, its liquid nature becomes visible. At about 1450F, you can see the edges of the cut glass starting to soften and melt. At 1550F, most glass is beginning to flow and behaves like syrup (extremely hot syrup!), and as its temperature continues to rise, you can see it moving in the kiln.
How hot the kiln gets has a lot to do with how a particular piece of fused glass looks when it’s done. Some of my designs use a “tack fuse,” meaning the glass gets hot enough for all the cut pieces to fuse into one solid piece of glass, but the cut pieces still maintain their individual shape and texture. Other designs are fired to higher temperatures, so they reach “full fuse,” with the separate pieces losing their angular shape and melting into a softly controlled puddle.
After the glass reaches the right temperature, the cooling process begins. The glass needs to expand and contract at the same time so that the cut pieces will melt together completely and still be stable when the glass cools again. The glass is cooled down very slowly, and when it’s done, the pieces are hand filed. Some pieces are fired more than once, with new layers and elements added in between firings.
I use dichroic glass in some of my jewelry work. Dichroic (pronounced dye-crow-ik), commonly called dichro for short, means “two colored”. Dichroic glass reflects one color when light bounces off the surface of the glass and transmits a different color when light passes through the glass. This reflective phenomenon is known as thin-film physics.
The uniqueness of this glass is quite fascinating, almost magical and extremely beautiful. The colors you see are physics in action. The result of the microlayers of metallic oxides, that are colorless themselves, interacting with light. The transmitted and reflected colors in a piece of dichroic glass depends on which metallic oxides were used, and on how many microlayers were applied and in what order. When you look at a piece of dichroic glass, you see the reflected color. When you hold it up and look through it, you see the transmitted color. If the dichroic coated glass is on an opaque glass background, like on black glass backgrounds, you only see the reflected color, but you see it with great intensity. If the dichroic coating is on a clear glass background, besides being able to see the colors shift when you look through it, you can look at the sides of the piece and see the glass is clear.
Dichroic glass art has been around since the Roman Empire. The effect was originally created with trace amounts of gold and silver in a large glass melt, resulting in glass that only partially reflected light passing through it. Dichroic glass became more widely known in the 1950s and 1960s when NASA developed a process to vaporize metals with electron beams in a vacuum chamber and directly applied to surfaces in an ultra-thin film. NASA began experimenting with dichroic glass to protect spacecraft technology and developed astronaut face plates that would block harmful sunlight in space. The technology is based on extremely thin-films of metals using selenium, titanium, manganese and other metals. The complete process may require 15 to 45 different layers totaling a width that is smaller than a human hair. Because the process of creating dichroic glass is so costly, a single pendant may seem comparatively expensive for glass.
Why should I buy your artwork when I can buy a piece of fused glass from a big box store?
In a word–quality. Everything I make is a unique work of art. The fused glass at big box stores is mass-produced. Just hold a piece of that mass-produced fused glass up to my artwork and you will see the difference. Plus, I do custom work!
Is your fused glass food safe?
Yes, fused glass is generally food safe, but I do not recommend eating off your art work! However, if your fused glass piece has an iridescent or dichroic coating, it is NOT food safe. I do not recommend microwaving your fused glass or running it through the dishwasher.
CARING FOR YOUR WEARABLE ART
Is the glass fragile? Does it require special care? The glass is no more fragile than a good drinking glass but is no less fragile. Things that would break a drinking glass will break fused glass, like dropping it on concrete or some other hard surface, striking it hard against another piece of glass, etc. Barring that sort of thing, your piece should last forever. The glass can be washed gently with clear water or alcohol if it needs cleaning.
Delivery Options & Guidelines
Made just for you in 1 – 2 weeks
I’ll do my best to meet this estimate but cannot guarantee them. Custom orders may take longer.
Ships from Arizona, United States
Returns and exchanges
I will gladly accept exchanges. Just contact me within 14 days of delivery. I do not accept returns or cancellations. This excludes merchandise that is damaged due to shipping. Please contact me if you have any problems with your order.