Tag Archives: my glass fusing journey

My Glass Fusing Journey 5

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

I’m honoured that when people see my glass jewellery displayed at events, it gets such a great reaction, its admired and complimented.

jewelart abstract glass pendant
A jewelart glass pendant design, Spring 2016

At these events, I chat about my glasswork to visitors and I’m also often asked if I teach glass fusing.

A few of the reasons why I decided not to teach glass fusing:

  • There are already many other people teaching glass fusing, just in about a 30-mile radius of Preston, I know of more than 10 people teaching glass fusing (see paragraph below).
  • The health and safety aspect of it puts me off in this day and age and I wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching with glass.
  • The time involved and I prefer to spend my time developing my own work.

So, here are just a few of the people I know in the local area / Lancashire that teach glass fusing classes:

  1. Collette Halstead  – www.colettehalstead.co.uk
    Once or twice, when I was teaching jewellery making classes at Alston Hall Adult College I popped in to to see Colette’s glass class there and was very impressed. Although Alston Hall college closed Christmas 2015, I think Colette still might be teaching classes at her studio near Preston.
  2. Julie Langan – julie langan facebook page
    I met Julie when I used to teach my bebeady jewellery making classes at Cedar Farm (I’ve bought a few of her glass pieces) and know a lot of people that have enjoyed doing her glass fusing workshops and created large scale glass pieces at her studio/gallery at Cedar Farm, Mawdesley.
  3. Lynda Drummond – glass boutique Facebook page
    I’ve met Lynda at local events, she’s lovely. She makes cards and fused glass and teaches glass fusing workshops in Lytham St Annes.
  4. Karen Redmayne – www.redcurrantglass.co.uk
    I’ve met Karen over the years doing events and she teaches glass classes at her studio in Barrowford.

Lots of others teach glass fusing classes in St Annes, Burnley, Blackpool, Wigan etc. Plus some of the adult education colleges might still teach glass fusing classes, such as Lancaster Adult Education college.

glass experiment
one of my glass experiments using float glass at the Lancaster Adult college class

If you want to learn and have ‘a go’ at glass fusing I would definitely recommend going on a few classes with different teachers, as each teacher will teach it differently. Some teach using float glass and others with coloured and dichroic glass, which will be a good opportunity to learn and have a go using the various types of glass and see how your experiments turn out. Plus you’ll learn how to cut glass and get to know about the materials, tools and machinery.

Glass is so magical if you decide to have a go at glass fusing, enjoy your learning and experimenting with it.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 2

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

In the Spring of 2012, I was in a bit of a rut with my glass making, after getting disheartened that many of my experiments over the past 2 years – trying to combine wire with glass – were not working out.

Sometimes the wire had reacted with the glass and it turned bright red with a fuzzy halo around it (not great!) or the wire hangers which were supposed to be outside the glass got submerged inside it. The wire was sandwiched in the middle of the assembled glass pieces, which meant it wasn’t very secure and often moved during its journey to Christine’s kiln (the organiser of the ceramic artist’s group), plus it had uneven kiln firing problems. Anyhow, this ALL resulted in a very low success rate.

If I was to continue with my glass fusing I decided I would have to get my own kiln.

Initially, I looked into getting a general multi-purpose digital kiln, one that could be used for everything, including ceramic painting and glass fusing, although the cost of the kilns new were around £800 (or more), nearly-new second-hand ones seemed to come up quite often on eBay for around £350-500.

hobby artist general kiln
example of a top-loading multi-use kiln

This hobby kiln is for sale (June 2016) at www.hobbyceramicraft.co.uk

“I’m glad I waited and did some further research on the different types of digital kilns”

My kiln research included chatting with other glass artists I knew about their kilns and visiting a local lamp-work glass artist to see the 3 kilns she had. This was a great help, as one of her kilns was specifically for glass fusing and was flatter, than the deeper style multi-function kilns and I could see it would be a lot easier to load up and use. She also recommended the English kiln manufacturer Kilncare for their kilns and after-care service.  Following this, I spoke to glass artist Julie Langan at Cedar Farm – whilst I was there teaching a bebeady jewellery making class – and she also spoke highly of the kilns by Kilncare that she used.

The problem was that the cheapest Kilncare kiln was well over £1,000 and my budget was to spend a maximum of £750 on a new kiln, or less if I could find a  good second hand one on eBay…

I’d begun researching and watching the ‘digital glass kilns’ that came up on eBay and had decided that if I hadn’t found one by Christmas, I’d get myself a new kiln, the Skutt Firebox glass kiln which was priced around my budget.

Over the months that followed only a few glass kilns came up on eBay and most weren’t that much cheaper than buying a brand new one or were located at the other end of the Country.

I lost out on a Stutt kiln that I was bidding on, as it went at the last minute to the ‘buy it now’ price.

Better was to come later that year. I couldn’t believe it when my dream Kilncare kiln came up on eBay – it was the first time I’d seen one in my year of looking – during my lunch break in the cafe at Barton Grange Garden Centre whilst I was there stewarding an Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire exhibition. With my heart in my mouth, I pressed the ‘buy it now’ for way more than my kiln budget and spent the rest of the afternoon at the exhibition, wondering if I had done the right thing!

A week later, after arranging to pick up and pay for the kiln, I headed on a 2-hour drive down to Stoke for it.  The lady selling her kiln was giving up glass fusing and it came with glass, cutters, some moulds and many other bits and pieces. It wouldn’t all fit in my small car, so I had another journey back down to Stoke the following week for the stand and the rest of the things.

Wow, I was over the moon, I’d finally got my dream kiln!

glass fusing kiln
glass fusing

I was quite scared to use it at first… but it came with programmed settings and a logbook, so I put a few pieces in, started writing notes and my experimenting journey began.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 1

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

I’ve long been attracted to the lustre and beauty of glass and crystal beads, learning about and collecting them to use in my jewellery making. From vintage hand-cut crystal beads, machine cut Swarovski crystal beads, pressed glass bohemian glass beads and Japanese seed beads, to gorgeous handmade lampwork and Murano glass beads.

“When I first came across Dichroic fused glass jewellery at a craft fair in the late 1990’s I was amazed by its beautiful sparkle and vibrant colours.”

At the time, there didn’t seem to be any opportunities to learn how to do it (glass fusing) in Lancashire, plus I was engrossed with learning about beads and developing my jewellery making skills. I think it was around 10 years ago when people started teaching the glass fusing classes here. They were so expensive and the cost of it put me off, but I still hankered to have ‘a go’ and luckily in 2010 a friend told me about a kiln/ceramic art group in Southport and I went along with her.

and that’s when my foray into the world of glass fusing began…

The group initially had weekly morning ceramic painting meetings in a church community room with additional day-long seminars every month or so.  The group organiser, Christine fired the ceramic paintings in her kiln each meeting. As glass is fused in a kiln, it was also something they covered in the group and I was able to gain the basics of glass fusing and have the opportunity to learn by experimenting and seeing how being fused in the kiln transformed my pieces of assembled glass. (I also enjoyed the ceramic painting I did at the meetings and seminars, I’ll write more about that in a later blog post).

jewelart early glass experiments
2 glass pieces before and after being in the kiln

This is an early ‘before’ and ‘after’ glass experiment with wire, these were 2 of the ones that turned out OK!

My glass fusing pieces were very ‘hit and miss’, firstly they were mostly new experiments, they also had to survive being moved by car and then loaded into a kiln, and finally the ceramic kilns are big top-loader kilns with varying ‘hot and cold’ spots and unfortunately it resulted in mixed success.

I knew that if I wanted to take my glass fusing further I really needed to get my own kiln.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist