Tuesday 14 April 2015

Fused glass

We are still on Easter school holidays in our neck of the woods, and the hours of blissful crafting I'd envisaged appears to have morphed into hours of laundry, mess-tidying, food provision, and sibling-bickering-refereeing with the odd bit of swing-ball and kerplunk thrown in just to keep it exciting. Ah such is life as a Mum of 3!

Anyhoo. In the absence of anything finished to show you (plenty started, nothing completed as yet) I thought I'd share some of the photos I took when I attended a Fused Glass workshop back in February. 

I was given a voucher for the workshop for Christmas by my friend. "Thanks!" I said, "Brilliant!" I cried. And wondered what on earth fused glass was and how to do it. A few weeks later I phoned to book my session with Namrata of Montages (www.montages.co.uk). Namrata said she'd send me some information via email, and I went off for a nosy on the interweb.

The bumpf about the workshop arrived by email as promised. I had to think about 3 designs - for a small coaster, a small dish, and a pendant - prior to the day itself. Now, I'd been on a stained glass thing a few years ago, rocked up with zero ideas and panicked for most of the session because my mind went blank. So I definitely wanted to be prepared this time. Namrata's email included a sheet to print off with templates for the 3 items. Each piece should only be straight lines and 3-4 colours each. I jumped on Pinterest and got looooooads of ideas.

For the coaster, and the dish, as a good hooker, I decided to go for - what else - a granny square effect. Basically a series of small squares. Nice straight edges. The pendant proved a bit harder but I kept coming back to a mini-beach scene I'd spotted on Pinterest, so I decided to go for something similar for my pendant.

On the day of the workshop I was really hoping that I wouldn't turn up and be billy-no-mates sitting in a group of others that all knew each other, but it was even better than I could have hoped - I arrived to find that one of the others was a lady (girl?) with whom I'd worked 18 years ago. She was there with her 15 year old twin daughters :) We felt very old. Long gone are the days of hitting the pub after work on a Friday......

Namrata gave us a run-down of what to do, and then let us loose with the glass and equipment.

To cut a piece of glass you first have to score it along a ruler with a scoring device.

Then you use a pair of snipper things and squeeze the glass where you scored it.

It just goes "snap" and breaks with a nice straight(ish) edge.

And so you go on, scoring and snapping, until you have enough pieces of roughly the correct size for your design.

If any edges need a bit of fine-tuning you use a small grinder. No photos of that though, its really hard to hold a piece of glass against a grinder whilst taking a photo of yourself doing it. At least its hard to do it without losing a fingertip. Don't worry, mine are all still intact.

You can add details onto the design with copper sheet, and can use a regular craft stamp, or just scissors, to cut the copper.

I decided to add a few hearts to my dish. The copper sheet has an adhesive side so you can position it on your design and it stays put.

I also wanted a little boat on my beach-scene pendant.

Cute, eh? I was quite pleased with that :)

Once you are happy with your design you go and lay it out on the kiln bed.

Most of the glass is what-you-get-is-what-you-see. So you fire green glass in the kiln, it comes out green. Blue comes out blue. And so on. There were a few exceptions which Namrata explained. Also the black piece in my beach scene is a powdery substance which, when fired, turns into a sort of bright blue bubbly effect. I'd decided to use that for the "sea" layer of my beach scene" 

Once your designs are laid out on the kiln, you lay a piece of glass, which Namrata had pre-cut for us, over the top. The basic idea is that when the pieces are fired in the kiln, the kiln heats up the glass enough to just go a bit blobby or gooey, so the individual pieces sort of blob together. The clear glass over the top just sort of blobs over the edges to give a nice clear and smooth cover to the whole piece. That's my admittedly non-technical explanation of how I think it works.

We all left our pieces with Namrata to be fired, and I popped along later in the week to pick up my finished items. 

The pendant didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. The blue I used for the sky came our purple. Ah. That was one of the exceptions then. The black powdery bit was darker than I hoped. I might have been a bit heavy handed with the powder, or maybe it looks dark next to the purple. Not sure. But despite it being slightly different to what I expected, I do still like it, its kind of sweet :)

To make the dish curve out like it does, I think Namrata must lift the dish piece (which starts off flat as shown earlier) and drape it upside-down over some kind of stand so it drapes down as it cools. Then when you turn it the right way up again it's dish-shaped. Does that make sense ?

I love my granny-coaster but my absolute favourite is the dish, its just so cute, I'm so happy with it :) 

You may be wondering how the pendant attaches onto a necklace ? Well during the firing process Namrata added a little silver attachment thingy to it through which a necklace or cord could be threaded, but I kind of tried to widen it to fit a cord thing I already had, but in trying to widen it, I, er, um, kind of broke it. Gah! Hubby has a soldering iron somewhere so I'm wondering if I can use that to fix it, otherwise it will just have be a decorative stone on my desk ....

I really enjoyed the workshop, I definitely want to do it again some time, and think I could go a bit more adventurous this time now that I know what to expect.

As well as running workshops, Namrata makes and sells a lot of her own work. Her pieces are truly stunning, and show how complex the design can be for a professional ..... check out her jewellery ....

.... and these next two pieces of wall-art are quite large, sort of dinner plate sized.

If you get the chance, I definitely recommend going on this sort of workshop, it was a really fun way to spend a morning, and with lovely (hopefully!) pieces to keep at the end :)



  1. Great work!!! I am sorry that the pendant didn't work quite as you had hoped, it is lovely though!!! xx

  2. That looks like so much fun! Love your little dish, coaster and pendant. All beautiful X

  3. Lovely. I like the bubbly bit in the pendant. :-)

  4. Lovely. I like the bubbly bit in the pendant. :-)

  5. there are really wonderful pieces among there!
    I really like the little boat you put in!

    Take care
    Anne (Crochet Between Worlds)

  6. I love the idea of a workshop like this. Your pieces are lovely even if they weren't exactly what you envisaged in places, I'd still be very proud of them. X

  7. What a fun experience. You made some beautiful tings. Hugs,

  8. That looks like something I would enjoy making! Your little dish is adorable. x

  9. What a lovely gift from your friend, a real treat. I had a go at a fused glass pendant years ago at a village fete, and collected the result a week later, and quite enjoyed cutting the glass and playing with shapes. Your finished pieces are gorgeous - I especially like the little dish, a really sweet idea. Perhaps you've got the bug to make more? :)
    Cathy x

  10. What a fun craft to learn! I love your little dish with the hearts!
    Happy weekend.
    Helen xox

  11. What a fascinating thing to do. I have never done a workshop like that but am beginning to think I would love to experiment with something I have no experience of whatsoever.

  12. I'm so impressed! It looks like it was a lot of fun and everything turned out beautifully!
    Great job Jill!! xoxo

  13. These are brilliant! I'm sorry your pendant didn't turn out the colours you wanted, perhaps it's the sea at night?

  14. What an impressive workshop, it sounds like great fun.

  15. Jill, I loved your narrative and photos about what you learned at your fused glass workshop. I think it would be a fun craft to try, and have wanted to try stained glass work as well, but so far my want-to-make-list is frightfully long and unrealistic for the hours I have in my days, so I am vicariously enjoying the glass crafts through your efforts :) Thanks!

  16. Oh I love fused glass! You did a great job!


Thankyou so much for visiting, and for taking the time to leave me a comment :) I really really love getting little messages, I read and value every single one, so thankyou again, and have a great day :)